Stanford ends ban on martial arts clubs, but tightens rules

Stanford Taekwondo, image via Facebook / @StanfordTaekwondo

Daily Post Staff Writer

Stanford will allow most of its martial arts clubs to return to campus this fall, as long as the groups comply with tighter university regulations.

Over the summer Stanford suspended 13 martial arts groups, including its Wushu, Taekwondo and Aikido groups, and its archery club after a spring audit found that the student groups were not in line with university policies.

Alumnus and Wushu artist Matthew Choi took to Facebook to condemn the ban. He accused Stanford of shutting the clubs down for being too hardworking.

“The groups like to unofficially practice during dead week, they recruit professional, internationally renowned coaches to run their practices, they compete and regularly win national championships without University help, and they participate heavily in the local community by teaching students, alumni and community members,” Choi wrote. “The university doesn’t like any of those things, and really strangely, it especially doesn’t like the fact that students get to interact with community members.”

Stanford Wushu posted on its Facebook page asking people to send letters in support of the groups to Stanford administrators. In a statement posted on Wednesday, Stanford said they received over 150 letters of support for the organizations.

Most of the groups will be allowed back in the fall as long as they comply with regulations including a minimum of ten active members and at least three student leaders, and a summary of costs to prove that expenses for the group are benefiting Stanford students. The letter says that the mix of students and non-students engaging in activities introduced “complexities” for which the university had not planned.

Stanford plans to launch a working group to study and recommend policies for student organizations.

Martial arts groups contacted by the Post did not respond to requests for comment Friday. Stanford Wushu posted on Facebook Wednesday that the club leaders are working with other groups to craft a response to Stanford’s announcement.


  1. Thanks for writing this. Stanford Health Improvement Program dropped its martial arts classes for staff without advance notice. Tai Chi, Shaolin Kung Fu, etc have been dropped. Staff are very upset that these classes have been cancelled. The HIP program gives a canned response to inquiries. We are mounting a similar compaign to the students. Thank you.

  2. The Stanford Kenpo Karate Club, shut down in June by the University as part of this crackdown, has been active on campus since the early 1960’s. The Club has taught an annual Women’s Self-Defense Workshop for the past 27 years, free for Stanford students and very low cost for members of the community. The Club’s volunteer instructors have been teaching martial arts for decades, many of them having learned Kenpo while attending Stanford. We are pleased the University has given this issue a second look, and we look forward to working with the University to design criteria for participation that allows martial arts clubs to continue to exist on campus, but still function primarily to benefit Stanford students. That has always been our goal. Having supported the Stanford and Palo Alto community for decades, it is now our turn to say thank you for your support during this difficult time. We genuinely appreciate your help.

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