The ‘Universitaire sport centrum’, USC for short, broadened its martial arts offer! This year, USC opened a boxing school for all kinds of people who are passionate or eager to learn boxing and kickboxing.
The project started this October as a result of a collaboration between USC and the Amsterdam Municipality, which reached an agreement to lend space for 8 years to the gym, with the goal to create a community hall for youth. It’s is led by former Dutch kickboxing champion Stef van Gelderen, who teaches full-time and aims to transmit his enthusiasm for this sport to the students. Joining Van Gelderen is Emile te Riele, the manager of the Boxing School and former Olympic weightlifting champion.
The only requirement to join the courses is to be open to discovering a fascinating and noble sport. If you don’t have any previous experience don’t worry, the Boxing School offers 3 different levels: an introductory course of 9 weeks, then there’s a beginner and finally an advanced level. So far classes are mixed, however, USC is planning on offering a class, especially for women if there’s enough demand. Classes are twice a week, but for those with the potential to become the next Muhammad Ali, there’s a weekly class with people from all levels, perfect to learn and meet more people. The language in which the classes are offered depends on the students that apply.
Kickboxing normally is very expensive, but don’t worry! For roughly the price of 5 beers you can join the classes and for 6 more euros you’ll be provided with a USC fitness membership: not only providing you with combat experience but the body of a Greek god to boost, all for the measly price of 7 beers.
The USC provides the students with 2,5 kilos gloves, students only have to buy a mouth protector, for hygienic reasons, which can be found on the desk at the USC gym.
The boxing school doesn’t offer fights, it’s semi-contact and students can’t hit others on the head, full force isn’t allowed either, however, if students want to compete, they should join The Noble Art, also offered by the USC.
So far, there are around 40-50 students signed up for the boxing school, to join you can check online on the website. In case you prefer other martial arts, don’t worry, there are over 10 martial arts to choose from, jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or kumdo, which consists of fighting with swords and bows.
But don’t just take my word for it: we asked one of the project managers to give us more information:
– Emile te Riele could you briefly introduce yourself?
I have been working at USC for 17 years and managing our Boxing school since December 1st.
I did a lot of competitive Japanese martial arts, I also partook in other sports such as squash and mountain biking. I managed to become an Olympic weightlifting champion representing my home country of the Netherlands.
-How did it start? who came up with the idea of starting the boxing school and what motivated you?
What motivated this initially was a discussion about the multifunctionality of the USC’s existing space around five years ago, then when the Amsterdam city municipality began discussing the possibility of opening a hall with the local youth in mind we decided to help them along. We moved the boxing school, Boxing is the most popular sport we offer, and we got a lot of extra room to help it grow.
-What is the goal of this project?
Firstly create a specific space in which people who practice (kick)boxing feel extra safe and at home. Secondly, to make more space and time in Universum for new and already present activities.
-How is it going so far?
We started in October and there’s a maximum of 25 people coming per class, usually, we have 15-16 and so far it’s going fine. Stef van Gelderen is a full-time teacher and a very talented fighter that was a Dutch champion in kickboxing. We also want Stef to participate in the Noble Art, what we were already offering there, where they compete, in the boxing school we do it without hitting him in the head and without hurting people
-What are you offering and going to teach in the course?
(Kick)boxing courses, two for beginners, and two for advanced and we are planning to offer more hours. there are still not enough people, time, and space in our schedule. Everyone is welcome.
-Do you need a certain level to take the classes?
No! everyone can partake regardless of skill, even people that have a physical handicap. If you’re not used to 2.5-kilo gloves, don’t worry you’ll adapt quickly enough!
-Do you offer different levels, or mixed classes, and are they taught in multiple languages?
First, you do a 9-week starter course, then you move to beginner, and finally to advanced. On top of this: once a week we offer a day where you meet people of different levels, a combined class, where you can learn from others. It is an open place, we want people to lose their fear. It is mixed, but we are planning on offering classes only for women when there are enough women that want it.
Classes are adaptable, they can be either in Dutch or English, depending on the students present.
-Do the classes also involve sparring?
No, it’s all semi-contact, not full force, if they want to compete they have to join The Noble Art. There everyone is more experienced and can offer better help .
Most importantly: it’s not allowed to use the skill gained with us outside of classes unless you are attacked and need to defend yourself.
-Are you planning on doing more things in collaboration with USC regarding boxing or other martial arts?
A lot of women’s self-defense, a martial arts introduction course, MMA, jiu-jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, karate, Korean MMA, kumdo (fighting with sword and bow and arrow), Kenpo, fencing, krav maga and if there’s enough demand we want to offer women’s boxing.