You’re worth fighting for

Tara McGovern

A self-defense workshop was held in the Buchanan-Kiewit Recreation Center Sun., May 13. The workshop reviewed simple things that are important to know in threatening situations like robbery or assault.
Coach Kurt Kirner, the university swim coach who works year-round at the recreation center and teaches a course on physical wellness dynamics, reported having held this class several times over the past 15 years.
Kirner said, “We at the rec center have long promoted student safety on campus and think this is a great service to our student body.”
Stephen Bryan has been teaching self-defense though workshops at Lawrence for the past 10 years, in addition to the Taijutsu martial arts course he also offers.
In Sunday’s workshop, Bryan emphasized the importance of always being aware of your surroundings. Most people have experienced the feeling that someone is staring at them, he explained. Bryan told the class to trust their instincts in those situations. “If you feel uncomfortable, it is for a reason and it is important to be aware of that,” he said.
Bryan said that most Lawrence students have been brought up to be nice and accommodating, and often people are caught in dangerous situations thinking, “If I follow along, they won’t hurt me.” This is not true, he stated.
Bryan noted the importance of using your voice to show that you will not be the weak victim. Students were told to practice saying “NO!” forcefully from the gut. “Your voice is probably your best weapon,” said Bryan.
The other two most important things to remember in dangerous situations are to put up a fight and run. Putting up a fight doesn’t mean right hooks and karate kicks, but instead uses easy and effective techniques to get you out of the situation as quickly as possible.
Unless you’ve been practicing punching for years, Bryan instructed, don’t try because it is likely that you will break a knuckle or wrist. Instead, use your open palm and fingers to hit the target area of the offender’s face. The target area is the area of the face where the “water works” are – the eyes and nose.
The elbow is also a good weapon to strike a blow with, as well as the knee. Instead of making flashy kicks and punches there are things that you can do which are more effective and less expected, like a sharp kick to the knee, or the testicles if the offender is male.
Bryan also went over techniques to dislodge your hand from a tight grip. Just think “wax on, wax off,” because by twisting your arm you will break the wrist of the person holding on unless they let go.
There is no need to be paranoid or afraid, Bryan made clear, just aware and safe. “You should be able to walk freely whenever and wherever you want, [but] that’s not the world we live in,” Bryan said.
A second workshop will be held Sun., May 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the rec center.