Self-Defense Class a Success
“Self defense training is an investment in your greatest asset: YOU!” said self defense expert and owner of Calhoon’s Martial Arts and Fitness Center Ryan Calhoon.
Every Tuesday for the entire month of October, Whitman is offering free all-female self defense classes, held at Calhoon’s gym. The classes will be offered again for the month of February.
According to self-defense class coordinator and Associate Dean of Students Barbara Maxwell, students over the years have requested self-defense classes. After several attempts at a class, which was usually a single session lasting one to two hours, Maxwell decided to partner with student Molly Dubrovsky to try to create a self-defense SSRA class at Whitman.
The two approached athletic director Dean Snider, who was supportive, but unfortunately the deadline for creating new classes at the beginning of the semester had passed.
“Dean [Snider] suggested we ‘pilot’ a class to determine interest, so Molly and I decided to work with Ryan Calhoon [of Calhoon’s Gym] to pilot a 4-week, 6-hour women’s self-defense class, which we will offer both this fall, and then again in February,” said Maxwell.
The sessions began on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Whitman women piled into carpools and formed walking groups to head to Calhoon’s gym. After removing their shoes, they formed a circle around instructor Ryan Calhoon.
Before learning actual physical self defense, Calhoon stated that simply being aware of one’s surroundings is the best form of self defense. He mentioned that just by having car keys already in hand, checking underneath your car before approaching it, trying to walk along lit pathways and taking a buddy when walking around after dark can greatly decrease likelihood for attack.
“This all takes merely a second or two, but could eliminate a situation if followed. It can quickly and easily become habit and you won’t even have to think about it,” said Calhoon.
After this brief introduction, Calhoon introduced several simple defensive skills. He focused on one-move techniques that would allow for a quick getaway. The point of self-defense, Calhoon pointed out, is not to challenge your attacker to a fight, but to free yourself to the point where you can run for help.
Senior participant Kate Kight felt the class was more intense than she imagined. She was brought back to an experience she had when a marine attacked her, and she underwent a PTSD flashback. Luckily for her, their was security present to help, but the event left a lasting impression.
“Learning self defense reminds me of that moment when I realized this man could very easily kill me, and he couldn’t even recognize the fact that I wasn’t a threat,” said Kight.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) claims that women are 90 to 95 percent more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence. Additionally, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 9 of every 10 rape victims are women, and 1 out of every 6 women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Kight’s experience shows that there are many different situations in which a person might need to defend themselves, and learning the most effective way to do so is vital.
“I think classes like this are really important because that kind of situation could happen at any time to anyone, and it’s good to have more awareness and more of a plan so that those situations can have a positive outcome,” said first-year participant Olivia Coackley.
Some parts of the class seem to be fun, since the students are practicing on each other, effectively play-fighting. However, the act of learning to defend onself has made students consider bigger questions about attacks, especially attacks on women.
“I really enjoy feeling more powerful and look forward to building skills with future classes, but I think it’s also important to remember to fight in every way we can to build a world where we [women] don’t have to live under this constant fear of attack,” said Kight.