I was inspired by Erica’s recent blog post to take steps to more fully protect myself if I must go run alone. Last week, I completed a self defense class for women and teens through the Town of Apex, held at the community center downtown. It is taught by former police officer and Hapkito black belt Jay Manganaro. I highly recommend this class to all women, teens and adults, especially if you have little to no experience in any other kind of self defense or martial arts. The class reviews ways to be smart when out alone (especially at night or in a more remote area) but also teaches physical defense techniques against an attacker.
First and foremost: be smart about your surroundings when in a remote area or at night. Try to avoid running alone if possible. If you do run alone, vary your route each time you go out. Carry a weapon such as this pepper spray that is made for running. I have this glove and have comfortably carried it on runs. Avoid running next to bushes where someone can easily hide–give yourself more space so that you have more time to react. If you see someone coming too close, listen to your gut, and tell them loudly to “step back” or “do not come any closer.” A person with no ill-intent will physically back away, possibly apologize for alarming you, and continue on their way. A person who wants to do harm will continue moving in your direction, may tell you it’s okay, or distract you by asking the time or directions, but are NOT following your directions to move back. This is when you must be ready to defend yourself.
In this self defense class, I was one of about 8-10 students who were able to learn moves such as: removing yourself if someone grabs your wrist, how to punch, kick, and importantly: where to punch and kick for the most damage. Ideally, you are doing this to buy yourself time, by scaring the attacker away. After a punch or kick, you want to have either stunned them enough to run, or they realize you are too much trouble and they run. You have less than 2 seconds to defend yourself and get away before you are likely to be hurt and in serious trouble! That is not a lot of time. You are not learning how to win a fight. You are learning how to escape and run.
In this class, you also get to PRACTICE. We used a dummy for many of the classes, but for the last two classes, we were able to practice our techniques on one of the teachers wearing a full body suit. This makes it very real, and your adrenaline does indeed rise. It is uncomfortable and it should be. You can’t predict what a real attacker will do, and this class gives a beginner the practice, the muscle memory, and the confidence, to feel what it would be like to fend off an attacker.
The next two classes will be held in February and March 2019. Go to the Town of Apex Program Guide for Spring/Summer to find registration information, which begins November 13, 2018.