Bringing her lightsaber to class is a common occurrence for Celeste Ramirez. The computer science junior is one of the first members of The Force Institute, a club created in the spring of 2017 inspired by the Star Wars saga and the Jedi philosophy.
“I like to carry my lightsaber around campus. It gives me a way to engage in a conversation about the club,” said Ramirez, from Tavares, Florida, and vice president of The Force Institute.
The club, however, involves a great deal more than lightsabers. Members practice a blend of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines meant to challenge them and get them out of their comfort zone. This includes a mix of eight different martial arts like kenjutsu, kung fu, kendo, and tai chi, among others. Added to that are a solid component of yoga and zen to help them develop meditation and self-centering techniques.
“Yes, we swing glowy sticks at night and saber work can be a very intense workout, but it’s not as strict as other martial arts,” said James Evans, a sophomore computer science major from Quito, Ecuador. “It has also helped me calm down and balance my body and mind better.”
The club has about 25 active members who meet twice a week on campus, mentored by Sensei Richard Ganey, who created the mixed martial arts curriculum. Ganey also incorporates the study of history, philosophy, and mythology as part of the overall growth desired in each individual’s Jedi journey.
“Being part of this club has given me the ability to grow my confidence and communicate better with others as a mentor,” said Nisha Patel, a junior majoring in computer engineering from Callahan, Florida.
“You are constantly reevaluating yourself while helping and sharing what you’ve learned with others. It’s very rewarding,” Patel added.
For more information email Justin Crampton, president of The Force Institute, Lakeland Chapter.
Assistant Director of Communications