Ninjutsu is one of the ten types of martial arts available to UCD students during their time at university, the others being Aikido, Changquan, Judo, Karate, Kick-Boxing (Lau Gar), Kung Fu (Shaolin), Mixed Martial Arts, Tae Kwon Do and Tai Chi Chuan. It is a traditional martial art with roots stretching back several thousand years. It was used by peasant clans to protect against incursions by samurai and others.
Today the emphasis is on practical street defence, using balance and movement. It requires good knowledge of the human body and how it works. Strength is not a prime requirement, so this is an ideal form of self defence for both men and women. It helps to build the body, mind and spirit. Instruction is provided on weapons and traditional techniques such as swords and staffs.
While many students come to university with a passion for sports, there are also options to help the less energetic to become more active. The Get in Gear programme, provides students with a five-week plan of moderate physical activity. Participants select from a range of classes, such as box-ercise, salsa or beginners’ rock-climbing three or four times a week.
Their schedule is complemented with an option for a pre- and post- programme health evaluation that measures their achievements over the course of the programme. Coordinated by UCD Sport with the UCD School of Physiotherapy & Performance Science, 365 students participated in the programmes in January 2009.
There are sixty sports clubs at UCD and a wide range of facilities including many natural grass pitches, the National Hockey Stadium of Ireland, an athletics track, and the refurbished UCD Bowl stadium, which is used for Rugby and Soccer.
UCD Rugby training in the 1500-seater UCD Bowl stadium
Commerce student Holly Jenkinson from Meath participated in several clubs while studying at UCD. “I played lots of different sports including tennis, ultimate frisbee and netball. My main sport is hockey and the hockey club is a great attribute to the college, with six Ladies and three Men’s teams and top-class facilities. I was a member of the Ladies 1sts hockey team for the last three seasons. In my first year we won the Leinster Senior Cup for the first time in 53 years. In my second year I was selected as captain of the Leinster Under-21 hockey team. This year I was vice-captain of the team and we qualified for the prestigious All Ireland League.”
UCD DramSoc is one of the most active student drama societies in Europe, with 40 plays a year. Members of the society, which was originally founded in the 1920s and whose alumni include Dermot Morgan, Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, Conor McPherson, Brenda Fricker, gain experience in performance, staging, writing and directing. Many members of the society also become involved in the UCD Community Musical, which brings staff and students together onstage.
The 2009 UCD Community Musical was Guys ‘n Dolls
DramSoc is one of fifty student clubs and societies at UCD, whose activities cover the full spectrum of social and disciplinary interests, as well as catering for lifestyle groups, political parties and charities. Students learn about the many clubs and societies at Fresher’s and Refresher’s weeks, held at the start of semester. There are also societies to cater for Graduate, Mature and International students. Many of the discipline-specific clubs and societies such as QSoc, EngSoc and AgSoc combine social and professional supports with fundraising efforts for charities and causes.
UCD Volunteers Overseas work in developing countries such as India and Haiti
UCD student societies are also regular hosts to prestigious guests. Hollywood comedian Will Ferrell received the James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society (L&H) in 2008, while in 2009, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded an Honorary Fellowship. Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney received life membership of UCD Law Society in February 2009 and read some of his works at the event.
Pictured at the launch of the “Please Talk” campaign in 2007 were (l-r) Dr Martin Butler, Vice-President for Students, UCD; Seán Óg Ó hAlpín; Fr Tony Coote, Student Adviser, UCD; Barry Colfer, former Student Welfare Officer UCDSU
While students can complement their learning with a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, there are also systems in place to support them in the adjustment to independent life and study. A team of student advisers give practical information and advice, and make sure students know the resources available to them, such as the crèche, Student Welfare Fund (SWF) and Student Desk. The advisers’ work with Irish and International students complements the pastoral, medical and counselling services provided by other parts of the university. A bibliotherapy programme was also recently launched, to give students access with self-help materials. Many areas also run successful peer mentoring programmes.