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Voice student uses passion to create individualized martial arts degree


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By Michela Tindera



As a child, Bloomington native and IU senior Danielle Guevara did gymnastics and played soccer. But it wasn’t until she replaced her younger brother in a martial arts class at Monroe County Martial Arts that she fell in love with the sport.

Since then, Guevara has taken classes in Hapkido, Eskrima, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing, to name a few.

While Guevara came to IU to pursue voice at the Jacobs School of Music, she is also pursuing a martial arts outside concentration because her music degree required an additional field to study. She said she chose an outside field because she doesn’t want to pursue voice after graduation.

Guevara was accepted to the Individualized Major Program last May and has taken psychology, American Sign Language, kinesiology and adaptive physical education classes along with IU martial arts classes.

She said while most music students choose to concentrate in arts administration or some kind of science, she wanted to do something that combined the activity she’d been doing for more than 10 years and the opportunity to work with children.

“I knew I wanted to work with special needs children, but not necessarily in a classroom,” Guevara said.

The individualized major program gave her the opportunity to do so.

Guevara said hearing about 2011 graduate Adam Rector, who majored in martial arts choreography in film, got her to start thinking about creating her own degree in martial arts therapy. 

“IU gave me a chance to get a degree in it and to be my own designer,” Guevara said.

Guevara currently teaches at both the MCMA and the Monroe County YMCA. At the YMCA, she teaches an adaptive martial arts class for students with special needs or a disability.

“It’s a unique form of physical therapy that can be individualized to a child’s needs,” Guevara said.

Guevara said she loves seeing how martial arts helps children with their disabilities.
One boy in her class at the YMCA was not born with any kind of disability. However, he was in a car accident and lost motor functions, which put him in a wheelchair.

Since beginning her class and continuing regular physical therapy sessions, he has moved from a wheelchair to a walker and is now able to do some moves without any kind of support.

“It’s been pretty amazing to watch that kind of change happen,” Guevara said.  
 
Linda Scott, co-founder and business manager of MCMA, has known Guevara since she was 9, when she began her training. Since then Guevara has remained a staple at MCMA. She began assistant teaching at 15, got her black belt in Tae Kwon Do at 16 and began teaching her own classes at 18.

She comes in almost every day for several hours a day, in addition to her classes at IU, Scott said.

“We can always count on her,” Scott said. “If we ever go out of town, we know she can be responsible and take care of the place for us.”

Scott said she has noticed how well Guevara works with all children.

“She just gets right in there, and she’s able to get the kids’ attentions right away,” Scott said. “She’s quietly confident.”  

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