Self-defense class empowers women

Lee-Anna Bardun

Reporter learns to escape violence

Glennis Siegfried | Daily Kent Stater Self-defense instructor Tim La Fleur works with Daily Kent Stater reporter Lee-Anna Bardun and shows her how to defend herself if an attacker grabs her from the front. Bardun was a participant in the self-defense clas

Credit: DKS Editors

Breaking free from the grip of a man twice my size seemed impossible. However, after taking a self-defense class, I learned I could escape that dangerous grasp. I could defend myself against a person who literally towered over me. I learned some basic skills every college girl should know.

When I walked into the self-defense class scheduled for Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network Day, chairs surrounded the room. It was completely empty except for Tim LaFleur, the founder and owner of Preventing and Surviving Violence. He was the instructor of the class. I walked up to him, introduced myself and shook his hand.

RAINN Day, celebrated Sept. 24, is dedicated to raise awareness and prevention of sexual assault.

LaFleur and I talked about his background and how he got started with self-defense classes. As an undergraduate, he studied psychology and later received his masters in counseling. It wasn’t until later he got involved with self-defense, earning black belts in karate and jujitsu.

His message was pretty clear: Everyone should know how to defend himself or herself against violence.

“It’s important for everyone,” LaFleur said. You just don’t know what people are going to do. You just don’t know.”

He talked about muggers and people driven to violence in desperate situations. They can be unpredictable, he said. He explained why people should listen to their intuition; that gut feeling telling them something isn’t right. That feeling can save someone from a situation that could become potentially dangerous.

We talked for about ten minutes, and by the time the class was about to start, only one other person besides me had shown up, Amy Breedon a freshman visual communication design major.

Amanda Roder, the graduate assistant with the Women’s Resource Center, organized the event and all the other activities for RAINN Day. She came up to the room to watch the class and ended up participating even though she was wearing a dress.

We were hoping a few stragglers would show up, but they never came. LaFleur went on with the presentation anyway.

Between the four of us, we learned a lot. LaFleur taught us how to break free from someone, no matter how they grab a hold of you. LaFleur was definitely over six feet tall. Because, I’m barely 5 feet, he dwarfed me. However, he taught us moves that would work regardless of a person’s size.

He grabbed my wrist. I turned and pulled free, running my hand down my shoulder and scraping his fingers off my wrist with the side of my hand. We practiced on each other. Breedon would grab my shoulder, and I would break free from her grip, prying her hand off and then swooping in with an uppercut to the chin. It was pretty fascinating.

Breedon, Roder and I all took turns practicing different moves. By the end, I think we were ready to kick some butt.

I felt confident, like I could be fearless, like I could take on anyone, even a man twice my size. The more we practiced, the more empowered I felt. I will no longer be the clueless girl walking around campus unaware. I will be alert, aware and ready to defend myself if any harm comes my way.

Breedon talked to me after the class about how she had always wanted to take a self-defense class because she never had that kind of physical training. Also, the program was free, which is always nice for college students.

Breedon said she thought being able to defend yourself was really important.

“I think it’s important especially in college with all the college parties, it can be a breeding ground for trouble,” she said.

Breedon said you should use everything you know to stay safe. LaFleur also stressed this point. When we forgot the different techniques he taught us, he encouraged us to “just do something.” He said the worst thing we can do is to do nothing.

I learned a lot and really enjoyed the class. It was unfortunate that not many people showed up. Roder put so much effort into promoting the class and RAINN Day. It was an event that was free; not for the school, not for any sort of special press, just for the students.

Maybe people just couldn’t make it because they had class, or they were busy, or they simply didn’t hear about it. Whatever the case, I know Breedon got something out of it, Roder learned a thing or two herself and so did I.

Contact student life reporter Lee-Anna Bardun at [email protected].