Besides the hand strikes, kicks and defensive technique training, Melissa Singer also learned that most of her daily habits could make her a target for an attacker, during a recent self-defense class in Minooka.
Singer, along with 30 other women took advantage of an opportunity for a self-defense workshop hosted by Village Christian Church last week. One Light Self-Defense taught the workshop with instructors Tarne and Sean Mixson, Gary Brook, Courtney Kodat and Jeremy Harris.
Village Christian Church Connections Pastor Sarah O’Sullivan said a member of the church had taken the course and thought it offered a lot of value. This member did not have space in her home to offer the workshop, and asked if the church would act as a host.
“We held this because we want to empower and equip women to protect themselves and be aware of their surroundings,” O’Sullivan said. “I want women to leave here feeling safer if they run into a situation which is dangerous. I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does, I would rather people be proactive and prepared than reactive and scared.”
The instructors were first called together to go to Kenya to teach young schoolgirls how to defend themselves. The area saw high percentages of rape. After the workshops, they trained others there, and Tarne Mixson said she was proud to say those girls have a reputation of fighting back.
They have also traveled to Thailand and India, where they worked with boys and girls rescued from sex trafficking.
“But, we knew we could make the biggest impact at home,” Tarne Mixson said. So, they began to teach self-defense workshops in the U.S.
Thousands of classes later, they still have the drive and desire to help others be aware of their surroundings or learn to fight back if engaged.
“Especially in American culture, we want to pretend like this is something that happens somewhere else,” Tarne Mixso said. “Abuse, even trafficking, are as prevalent here as anywhere around the globe.”
Tarne Mixson said one in four women is assaulted before 25 and one in six men.
The three-hour session was broken up into information and instructor-led technique.
Sean Mixson spoke about personal space and told attendees to recognize when others are in close proximity and make eye contact. Some potential attackers will walk away if they know they have been noticed. Take elevators over stairs and stay in the front of the elevator.
Brook taught parking lot safety. The No. 1 tip was to be aware, look up, not at a phone. And, if one feels unsafe, call someone and tell them a location.
He said that when people approach their vehicle, they should look around. If there is a van or someone in the passenger side of a vehicle next to you, enter through the passenger side and scoot over, or go back inside to see if the vehicle leaves. Also, only unlock as many doors as needed. If alone, unlock one door, get in and lock the doors immediately.
Tarne Mixson said many people can become victims when a drink is drugged, so keep drinks in hand or in sight at all times. Be with a group, avoid dark and secluded places and do not become predictable with routines.
In the breakout sessions, the women were taught strike points and dispelled certain myths of where one should strike another person, with the groin being too predictable and easy to guard. Instructors recommended targeting the eyes and throat. They ran through scenarios and how to best defend once there was an attack.
“This was interesting; I have a lot to learn – stuff I never realized that I do,” Singer said.