Don’t take risks, take self-defense

By Andrew Hardy

The bar has just closed and you have lost your friends in the crowd. You don’t feel like waiting around for them to walk home with so you decide to go it alone. It’s only a couple of blocks and will only take a minute if you cut back behind the apartments.

The parking lot is dark and nearly devoid of cars. As you walk to the one street light on the far side of the lot, you notice two people standing by a truck talking quietly. As you walk past them on the far side of the pavement you notice them to start to walk toward you.

You have had a self-defense class and did very well. So, quickly assessing the situation, you make a quick little jog out of the parking lot to a well lit and crowded sidewalk.

According to University Police Sgt. John Hunter, that is the true art of self-defense—understanding a situation and avoiding a problem.

Hunter said he has never broken up a fight started by a student of self-defense but said he has seen the aftermath of someone who attacked a trained student. He was there mostly to help the attacker off the ground and into the squad car, he said.

It’s not just punching and kicking that makes self defense work, it’s awareness.

“We don’t teach you to be a fighting machine,” said Matt Hyatt, treasurer of the Office of Recreation’s Tae Kwan Do club. “You learn to use your head.”

“We make practice very intense, so that your reactions become natural,” says Doug Oberton, a student of the OCR’s Shotokan Karate club.

The training used is real life situation trials, Oberton said. Realism is stressed because everyone is different. Some things that work for one person may not work for another, he said.

“We make training harder than the real thing,” Oberton said, “so that if a situation occurs, it will be easier than at practice.”

Oberton said he uses his training every day working in a psychiatric ward, where patients can become very abusive to themselves and others around them. His training lets him restrain them without hurting them or getting hurt himself.

Aside from practical reasons, martial art training can be very beneficial. It’s a good cardiovascular workout and increases your flexibility as well.

Additionally, many people use martial arts as a cross-training for other sports. It’s excellent preparation for sports needing both explosive power and endurance.

For more information on practice times and days call the Office of Campus Recreation center at 753-0231.