The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Grapplers Club: Life Lessons On and Off the Mat

The Grapplers Club at Colgate University meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at noon in the martial arts studio at Huntington Gymnasium. Members typically start with a quick warm-up before moving on to technique drills and, finally, sparring. 

Club members describe grappling as a sport that brings together the three main disciplines of wrestling, judo and jiu jitsu.

“Grappling is a combat sport that doesn’t utilize strikes such as punches or kicks,” sophomore member Tanner Harmon said. “The sport of grappling is focused on bringing an opponent to the ground and then effectively controlling them until you can apply a submission.”

The competitors use techniques like chokes and arm bars to subdue an opponent. When they have no choice but to give up or be injured, the opponent signals a submission using repeated taps.

Aside from the development of self-defense skills, Harmon finds additional value in the sport. 

“Our bodies’ biological stress reactions are made for fighting or fleeing,” Harmon said. “Because grappling mimics a real fight, it puts us in a safe, controlled scenario where we can feel the full force of all of our physiological stress responses. Practicing grappling allows us to gain real control over our minds, our bodies and our stress. It forces you to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and calm down when you are freaking out.”

Harmon has found that grappling has had a far-reaching effect on himself.

“Personally, grappling is the closest thing I do to meditation,” Harmon said. “I never feel more connected to myself and in control of my emotions than when I am trying to avoid being strangled on the mats in the Huntington martial arts studio.”

Club members range from beginners with no experience to those who have been practicing various combat sports from a young age. Regardless of background, Grapplers Club offers an inviting space to train and improve while surrounded by peers with a similar interest.

First-year Jack Antonson joined Grapplers Club to experience something new.

“I have found it [to be] a place to apply myself to getting better at something difficult and foreign,” Antonson said. “I think one of the best skills one can acquire is the ability to get good at something you’ve never done before.” 

President and senior Zach Martin — a Judo black belt and junior Olympian — acts as head coach, leading practices and supervising meets. Last year, the club competed in a tournament in Rochester, N.Y.

“I saw a guy who came in just two months before [the tournament] for the first time go out there and win his match using the techniques we went through in practice,” Martin said. “This was exciting for me because I saw all the hard work he put in pay off.”

When Martin studied abroad last semester, Harmon stepped up to run the club. 

“Getting the whole club dropped in my lap was a surprise,” Harmon said. “But it was a really cool experience to be pushed into. Coaching and teaching is a totally different experience than just training and competing. Coaching really forces you to break things down and understand them piece by piece, and doing so has made me a much better competitor.”

Despite the occasional chokeholds and arm bars, Grapplers Club is a supportive community dedicated to training technical skills and also fostering personal growth.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All The Colgate Maroon-News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • T

    TFeb 25, 2024 at 8:04 pm

    Great article!