Where are you from? What is your major?
I was born in Dearborn, Michigan and raised in Kingwood, Texas. I am a pre-med student double majoring in biology and Italian.
Why did you join Polymathic Scholars?
Honestly, I enjoy learning about everything. This is why I have two majors of different backgrounds; one in the College of Natural Sciences and another in the College of Liberal Arts. However, one thing that I can’t receive from my coursework is the ability to study my passion, martial arts. The opportunity to study this discipline in an academic environment is why I joined Polymathic Scholars. Martial arts, while at first hard to see the connection, complements my two majors by allowing me to implement my own knowledge of science and culture in a useful way.
What is your topic for the UF? What disciplines does it combine?
My topic is “The Culture and Science of Martial Arts”. I have combined disciplines in science and religion, two conflicting but influential factors in the development of martial arts. Specifically, I have pursued courses in kinesiology and physics, and will also take an Eastern religions course.
How did you become interested in your UF topic?
My interest in martial arts started at the age of twelve. Since then, I have been exposed to a global variety of martial arts including Shotokan, Taekwondo, kickboxing, and Wushu. Currently, I practice Wushu and have started the basics in boxing. In essence, the study and practice of martial arts is my culture.
What is the most interesting thing you have learned so far about your topic?
So far, I have only taken a biomechanics class. I have learned about the kinetic chain of motion. The kinetic chain of motion describes how the body connects movements in a chain-like fashion during a single action and explains why people of any size can move powerfully and overcome obstacles. I find this amazing because, for example, in China, Shaolin monks understood and used this concept before a term was ever coined scientifically.
What do you believe you have gained, personally or professionally, from being a part of Polymathic Scholars?
Professionally, my writing and communication skills have improved. As a result, I feel more confident about receiving opportunities to work in the medical field. Personally, I find it easier to teach martial arts because I can incorporate a physics-related explanation into my lessons. At my martial arts school, I have a deeper respect for my instructors who have shown a huge amount of faith in this discipline. Lastly, I am motivated to take the initiative in designing the kind of research project that I want to study.
Do you have any advice for other Polymaths on how to make the most of the program?
You should pick a topic that you enjoy because you will be researching your topic thoroughly for the rest of your time at UT. The classes you choose to take as a part of your minor will feel like an adventure, new and relevant.
What is your favorite thing about the program?
So far, it is the fact that I have the opportunity to create a research field for martial arts. I didn’t think it was possible to study martial arts at a university! I have not taken the capstone seminar, which requires me to research a certain aspect of my topic, but I would like to narrow it down to how Western culture has influenced the practice of martial arts. For me, hearing people’s opinions as well as recognizing certain stereotypes of martial arts can help me advocate its importance.