There was no way possible that I could see myself landing a punch on this guy. So what if he was covered from head to toe with protective gear that made him look like a gigantic Mighty Morphin Power Ranger? There would be a single moment between when he let you take your best shots and when he turned on you to see how you would respond to his taking his. I was (un) fresh from a spin class. I was all adrenalined out. Or so I thought.
So that was the teaser dear reader to the most recent YMCA class I attended. Karen Kaplan, the special events coordinator had arranged it. Tammy Castor, College of the Canyon Security Supervisor gave the first hour lecture. Rounding out the trio was a very tactful security officer from COC, Howard Blanchard.
I hadn’t had a self-defense class since college, say about, well, twenty or more years ago. I thought a refresher was in order. Figuring I would hear things that I had heard before I was not prepared to be, well, quite so shaken.
There were more ladies there than I had imagined would be interested. Almost all had donned sweat pants anticipating the “hands-on” part of the two-hour course. Their faces appeared relaxed and comfortable before we entered the classroom. One even commented upon seeing officer Blanchard, “Is he the guy were supposed to beat the hell out of?”
But within five minutes of Ms. Castor’s lecture there was a decidedly more serious tone taken. The thesis being, “Get in there, use Surprise on your subject, Get out of there!”. I will bullet some of the standouts for easy reading. (My favorites are in bold.) And, if you dare, stick around for our time with Officer Blanchard…
ü You don’t have to be a work out freak but strength will definitely help you in a fight. And statistics have shown it’s better to fight than quit.
ü One minute feels like 20 in a fight. You will be exhausted just from the adrenaline rush. (That comes later in my column…just you wait!)
ü Role play in your mind “What would I do if…” and make a plan.
ü Be aware of your surroundings, day and night, out or at home, alone or with friends.
ü Look at your house from outside as a burglar would. Do you have a peephole and/or chain? (Call local SCV Sheriffs. Deputy Rissler @ 661-799-5159 will do a home security check.)
ü Leave $20 at point of entry, if it’s gone, don’t enter your home. (But be sure and tell the kiddies and husband that they can’t swipe either.)
ü Wave “Goodbye!” to an empty house.
ü Have a male voice record your answering machine message.
ü Don’t make your car appear as a “feminine” target with all of your paraphernalia. Also don’t leave mail or anything with your address on it in your car.
ü Park in lit areas; if at COC use the paid escort service (Administrative Justice majors).
ü Get a flashlight key chain at Target for $5.00.
ü Hold one key from your key ring out, not all, and aim for eyes or throat—be aggressive!
ü Drive on that flat tire if someone approaches you while waiting for help!
ü Change your routine if you fear a stalker.
ü Turn off your car radio as you get closer to home to be more aware of your surroundings.
ü Walk with purpose, not avoiding eye contact that says you’re an easy target.
ü Yell! Loudly! Be Ready!
ü The Cop Shop, not the swap meet, sells reliable Pepper Spray. (661-298-9797 Ask for Darryl.)
ü No headphones when you run or walk, vary route but also know “safe” houses.
ü Take Kickboxing, Women’s RAD (Rape, Aggression, Defense) Program in September with local Deputy Donna Elliott, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Mike Ortiz (661-250-1193), and/or American Hapkido Academy (661-296-7477) for more comprehensive training.
ü Be prepared to get hurt, right away, when you fight.
ü If there is more than one aggressor, be aware, women can be used as decoys, if they circle you take the one out closer to you and run!
ü Keep trying different escape ideas if the first doesn’t work!
ü If resistance proves too dangerous-STOP!
ü Get rid of “The Good Girl Syndrome” It’s less dangerous to risk minor injury than remain in assault situation.
Now some things specific to younger women, home alone or first dates:
ü Wear clothes, especially shoes, that you can run in when on a first date.
ü Make a plan with friends or roommate. For instance no one goes home with a guy they just met-all go home together.
ü Things happen when alcohol is added. Be aware of date rape possibilities.
ü Don’t leave your sorority doors open.
ü If home alone make sure your immediate neighbors know your schedule. “If you don’t see my car in my parking space every night by eleven call my mom!”
At his point Ms. Castor introduced Officer Blanchard now in his protective gear. A few punches, kicks, scrapes and jabs were shown. How to get out of certain holds were demonstrated. Even how to hold our hands in a punch to deliver the most power! Where the jabs did the most damage. How to use those porcelain nails in a way all men have feared!
No one wanted to be first. Of course the Eve of Destruction volunteered…someone else. (She was the only young woman who admitted taking kickboxing and her legs looked strong enough to topple anyone!)
Watching Kick Boxer Girl approach Mighty Morphin Power Ranger seemed okay, easy to handle, stress free. But when Ms. Castor gave him the “Okay” sign and he asked, “Are you ready?” I didn’t know how ill prepared we really all were.
All of our adrenaline shot up! No one could scream! My hands were shaking! And it all lasted about 60 seconds but she got out of his grasp! I thought I would die just watching her. Then slowly, very slowly it seemed, one by one almost every woman gave it a try.
I was dead last. I thought that I had to do it. But even as our confidence level seemed to grow with each participant, that level of fear in the room was still palatable. Finally, when I noticed that some women were leaving the class after their turns I…struggled to put on the gloves.
Of course I warned everyone that I would be the first to use profanity if I couldn’t help myself. I was keeping Ms. Castor’s instructions in my mind, “Be aggressive, yell…” as I scraped his shin, slammed my heel on the top of his foot, nailed his privates and jabbed his chest. Then the moment had come—he grabbed from the front! I felt my blood rushing through every possible part of my body in a wild attempt to…GET OUT OF THERE! I screamed God know what and twisted my body away from his and ran to the mats!
My hands didn’t stop shaking until after I had gotten home, described the scene to Eddie and downed a single malt scotch. But before that, I turned off my car radio before I drove up my street, checked out the bushes in front of my house, and yelled “HELLO” as loud as I could.