Sasha Corchado, an academic advisor, earned a spot on a U.S. martial arts team
Originating in feudal Japan, Naginata is a martial art in which practitioners use a long pole mounted with a cutting blade. The pole is also known as a naginata. First used in battle by the samurai, the naginata later became a weapon used by samurai women. Those like Sasha who study the modern martial art form, though, use the naginata not for battle but to perform powerfully choreographed movements and to compete in sparring matches.
Sasha’s first introduction to martial arts came at NJIT, where she took aikido classes in the university gym with Fred Little, manager of Graduate Programs at the College of Architecture & Design. Little saw she had a talent for martial arts and suggested she visit a dojo (or gym) in Jersey City that teaches Naginata.
“I was immediately enthralled and intimidated by the grace and power with which the students wielded their naginatas,” Sasha says. “I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Though she’s been studying Naginata only for only two years, she already excels at it. Sasha is part of the Greater New York Naginata Federation women’s team, which has twice won the U.S. Naginata Federation Championship. She later qualified for the 2011 U.S. National Women’s Team, ranking third in the tryouts. She is now preparing for the national team training in March, which will determine what events she’ll compete in at the International Naginata Federation World Championship.
“I’m grateful and excited for the opportunity to represent the United States at the World Championship,” she says. “When I began Naginata I never imagined how big a part of my life it would become or how much I would gain – both physically and personally – from the experience.”
Sasha, who lives in Jersey City, trains three to four times a week, both in the dojo and at NJIT. She also teaches Naginata at NJIT once a week.
Sasha works as an academic adviser for the School of Art + Design. It’s her job to advise all students majoring in Industrial Design, Digital Design, Interior Design, and beginning next fall, Fine Arts. As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Fine Arts program, she relates to the students and delights in helping them navigate creative, academic and intellectual challenges. She especially likes helping the students hone their technical skills while also finding their artistic voices.
“I am impressed by the level of talent and innovation the students bring to their design studies,” says Sasha. “While each discipline has its own unique set of foci and challenges, the students all possess the same eagerness and enthusiasm. As an adviser, it’s rewarding to guide them through the academic process and watch them grow as designers and develop into the next generation of design industry leaders.”
(By Robert Florida, Office of Strategic Communications)