On Sunday, March 1, from 1-4 p.m., a Women’s Self-Defense class will be held in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center. The class, hosted by Fox Valley Grappling club in conjunction with Lawrence’s Grappling club, is intended to give women a background in fighting technique for situations in which they may need to defend themselves.
Sophomore Shana Pike, one of the leaders of Grappling Club and the organizer of the event, explained, “when you have that adrenaline and you’re fearful, having some kind of background is good. Without any of that [experience], you’ll just blank.” Pike’s goal is that women will come away from the class equipped with fighting skills that can be enacted quickly in a scary situation, rather than freezing and not knowing what to do.
Alexandra Rathbone, a certified instructor from Fox Valley Grappling Club, will teach the class.
“I think it will be powerful having it be from a woman to women,” Pike said. Rathbone’s presence at Fox Valley Grappling Club has brought more women to their gym, and Pike believes that she will have the same influence at Lawrence. “Having the knowledge come from a woman will be more powerful because she will know the type of situations you can get caught up in or what to look out for,” Pike continued.
“When I try to explain to a guy different fears I have of walking by myself at night, usually they don’t really understand what I’m talking about … they don’t have to think about it as much.”
That’s not to say that men don’t need to learn self-defense, because they can get involved in situations like this too, but the skills and fighting technique would be different, making the all-female class more valuable for Lawrence women.
“We are going to talk about sexual assault and how to get away from a situation like that,” Pike said. “We are also going to learn verbal protection—being aware of when you should say something, and using your voice before any type of physical threat comes in.”
If the class is successful, Pike hopes to bring it back once a term to teach self-defense to as many women as possible. But, Pike suggested that women come to grappling club if they can’t make the class. “Grappling club focuses on Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has influences of other martial arts,” Pike explained. “Jiu-jitsu is more about technique and body angles, but you can use influences and concepts in jiu-jitsu for self defense. It’s a good background to have.”
Pike started going to jiu-jitsu her freshman year and is now one of the leaders of grappling club. “I was the only girl there,” she said. “It’s a very male-dominated sport, like most fighting. If you watch UFC, anything the fighters are doing on the ground is jiu-jitsu.”
Pike hopes more women join her at grappling club, which meets on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. and Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Wellness Center. And considering how quickly her self-defense class began to fill up, it seems like women on campus want to join in the fight.