BY KENZIE CHESROWN (‘18) AND EMMA NAILLE (‘18)
In light of recent events in Granville, and with a continuing pattern of violence throughout the rest of the world, learning self-defense is becoming increasingly relevant and potentially life-saving in today’s society.
Self-defense is incredibly important, especially for students leaving for college next year.
Granville graduate and current freshman at Hope College Riley Davis has not taken a self-defense class, but does have pepper spray.
“I carry pepper spray because I go on runs on the bike path sometimes and honestly I have just heard a lot of scary stories about girls getting kid napped on bike paths so I want to take precautions,” Davis said. “Plus my mom makes me.”
Senior at Denison University Anna Bassett said that college is different from being at home because of the freedom.
“I think being on a college campus is different because instead of seeing your friends for an eight hour day, you’re living with them and you're with them pretty much 24/7,” said Bassett. “You get to hang out with them all the time but you also regulate who you spend time with. You have a lot more freedom that you get to use and make decisions with and I think some people make responsible decisions and some people kind of go a little crazy with their independence.”
She, too, has not taken a self-defense class, but said she would consider it. Bassett also has a self-defense tool.
“I have this like thing in my car that I don't’ keep on my key chain, but I probably should, that makes this really loud noise,” Bassett said. “Its supposed to hurt someone’s ears but I don't have any like pepper spray or anything like that.”
Social Studies teacher Jeremy Hopping has taught American Kang Duk Won Karate on Monday and Wednesday nights for an hour for ages six and up for 15 years. A typical class includes 20 minutes of self-defense training.
“We focus on a lot of different things, a lot of different aspects of martial arts, but our top priority is actually self-defense within our style," Hopping said. "We also focus on awareness and avoidance and we have a number of different elements of self-defense that we teach to our students.”
He recommends taking any kind of martial arts to learn self-defense.
“I would because and you know not just with me,” Hopping said. “I would say that any kind of good martial arts training is going to make you more aware of your surroundings and give you more of an ability to react to situations, be prepared to react to situations.”
School counselor Misti Postle recommends ROX, which stands for Ruling Our Experiences, which teaches people how protect themselves against attackers of all sizes.
“The whole part of what we do in ROX at least is you're going at, no matter how big or how strong the person is, you're hitting pressure points and areas of the body that are very sensitive to touch and to firm pressure,” Postle said. “I’m 5’4’’, if someone who's 6’9’’ is attacking me, I can still step on the part of their foot that I know easily can be broken or I can still pull back the piece of the thumb that I know I can break in a second and that's not gonna stop them permanently, but it might scare them enough or shock them enough like, ‘How did this 5’4’’ girl just break my thumb?’ to the point where I can then run.”
Hopping said self-defense is important because it teaches awareness, confidence and self-protection.
“For a lot of different reasons for a lot of different people,” Hopping said. “It makes you safer and i think that it makes you more confident as a person. I think it makes you more aware of what’s going on around you. It allows you to protect yourself.”
Postle agrees with Hopping that self-defense teaches awareness that allows you to better protect yourself.
“I think there is a general awareness that you have after going through a self-defense class that makes you more prepared to navigate the world outside of your house, outside of your fence,” Postle said. “It's not just about a person jumping out of a bush and attacking you, it's a confidence of how to walk, how to appear confident, how to appear assertive, how to just be aware of your surroundings.”
Postle took a self-defense class as training to become a ROX facilitator at the Middle School, where she now teaches self-defense to the club members.
“ROX is the girls club that we have down here and it's really just current events and hot topics kinds of things that affect teenage girls,” Postle said. “Some of it is led specifically through a curriculum that I follow and people who are in the club can also bring stuff up, but part of that is a two hour self-defense class.”
She recommends ROX as a way for girls to learn about self-defense because the class takes place in a comfortable setting because the class takes place ten weeks into the program so everyone “already knows each other and is comfortable.”
“When we’re doing some of the moves and holds, its not an awkward thing so they can ask questions and we talk about scenarios like when might you need to use self-defense and if someone’s attacking you is it mostly likely someone you know, someone you don’t know and how might the intentions be different and how would your reaction be different if it's someone you know versus someone you don't know like basically would you let someone you know get closer to you than someone you don’t know.”
This is the club’s third year. It is open to all middle school girls.
“This is the third year for it. But it's open to anyone and it does have a fee associated with it but Granville Kiwanis pays for it for everyone so really as many girls want to do it can do it.”
Some schools even require all girls to go through the program before graduating.
“At local schools like Columbus School for Girls it's part of the graduation requirement that you have to go through ROX and South Western City Schools is moving towards that, which its a huge district but they're hoping within the next four years that it's a requirement for graduation so it's really general life skills that you want to send a girl to college or to the military or to a job knowing these kind of skills.”
Postle said that part of self-defense is knowing what is happening around you and having control over how you appear to others.
“If you’re in a movie theater, where are your exits... If you’re walking around Easton, who's around you, what is their body language saying, what does your body language say about you,” Postle said. “So you want to always appear like you’re assertive person, even if you’re not and be ready to react if something does happen.”
VO2 Fitness is a gym run by Sally Studer. Studer’s gym offers an array of classes ranging from boxing to self defense.
“Being aware of your surroundings and having some basic self defense skills is very important for all teenagers,” Studer said. “Knowing what to do if someone grabs your hair, your wrists, or around your waist from behind, can keep you safe,”
A smart tip to keep yourself aware of your surroundings it to not look “down at your cell phone in a parking lot or unfamiliar places,” Studer said.
Senior Rachel Lilly, co founder and president of the Women Empowerment Club, set up an open self defense class. It was on December 3rd at VO2 Fitness on Cherry Valley Road in Newark.
“It is especially important for girls to learn self defense in order to protect themselves and be independent,” Lilly said.
Bassett agrees that self-defense is empowering.
“I feel like it's important and just I’ve know that a lot of my friends have taken a self-defense class and even if they haven’t had to use it has been really empowering for them to know.”
Though Davis has not felt unsafe because the community she is surrounded by is “very warm and welcoming” and “safe,” she still believes it is important to “know how to protect ourselves from any potential dangers.”
Postle reiterated that “the whole point of self-defense whether you’re using mace or whatever is to survive the event and do whatever you have to do to survive the event.”