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6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Ngazioe - Thursday, December 4, 2003
The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine -
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ou just leave an organic chemistry lab, check
your voicemail and start walking back home when
suddenly, someone grabs you from behind. What
do you do? Reactions caused by shock are some of
the most dangerous - you might freeze, go with
the assailant or shut up as instructed.
Local self-defense programs teach students life skills and awareness
By Sravya Chirumamilla
Daily Arts Writer
Most people are not in danger in Ann
Arbor, since the number of aggravated
assaults in 2002 was half the national average.
Living in a relatively safe city, however,
should not deter people from knowing basic
The threat of assault exists not only for innocent
passersbys who happen to getin the middle of a drunk-
en fight, but also for people in harmful relationships.
The myth of the unknown rapist is misleading since
most rapes and sexual assaults are committed by a per-
son who knows the victum. '
People unable to dedicate hours to practice
martial arts can enroll in strength training
courses that are currently offered through
local martial arts schools. These classes pro-
vide the tools for learning self-defense, so
that on the chance that someone is attacked,
he or she can protect himself or herself.
Self-defense is not the oft-portrayed street
fighting made popular in films such as
"Mortal Kombat" and "Rush Hour." Instead,
it is the use of self-control techniques and
to the self and
"We try to dissolve the
vocal level. If it can n
then do we move onto
skills we learn
here we can
Yessa Villarreal said. Villarreal is a strength-
training instructor at the Ann Arbor Quest
Center on Packard Road.
The Quest Center teaches the martial art to-
shin do, founded by former actor and profes-
sor,Stephen Hayes. The energy spent on physi-
cal force and attacks is less than 10 percent of
the training, as the remaining time is spent on
fine-tuning awareness and defense.
"Self-defense is basically what this art is
about," Villarreal explains. "We train for
attacks, not threats. We try to dissolve the
attack from a purely vocal level. If it cannot
be dissolved, only then do we move onto a
The Quest Center co-owner Donna
Copeland explains, "We think that being
proactive is very important." In order to do
so, she offers some basic steps to ensure self-
protection. "You should not be digging
through your bag for keys, having them ready
is one way to be prepared."
Keith Copeland, the Quest Center's other
owner, notes the importance of confidence and
awareness. "If you present yourself as not being
a victim, there is an energy and presence, and
the predator moves away."
Ann Arbor resident Rex Lau brings his
five-year-old son, Jacob, to beginner judo
classes at the YMCA on the corner of East
William Street and South Fifth Avenue. "Judo
is the more 'gentle way,' Lau said about
choosing this martial art. "It is not about
fighting - it is a technique for a small per-
son or a woman to defend themselves. They
teach how to fall and protect yourself."
Neil Simmon, the YMCA's martial ways
coordinator, runs this class which consists most-
ly of five-year-olds. He repeats to his class that
the defense mechanisms belong only in the
dojo, the area of practice.
"It is important not to panic. Give the per-
son what they want," Simmon tells his atten-
tive class. "Tell them, 'I don't want to fight.'
Walk away, and if he looks shady, walk across
Tony Springfield taught judo at the YMCA
for 20 years and now hosts seminars for student
groups through the CCRB, Couzens, Alice
Lloyd and Mary Markley residence halls.
"Try to find a safe area, try to call attention
and exit the area," Springfield says. His
classes are catered to students since he teach-
es them to prepare for wrist grabs, chokes
and negotiating solutions.
Springfield suggests that, "If you are
approached in an elevator, push all the but-
tons on the elevator except the basement or
Emergency buttons." You can then escape on
the next level.
The Quest Center offers classes for student
groups that vary from a four-hour session to
two three-hour sessions. They focus on
adrenaline stress-training, which helps con-
trol the fight
attack from a purely or flight
be dissolved, only response in
a physical level." uations.
- Yessa Villarreal When in
LSA senior or high-stress
auditory, visual and fine motor skills all
become impaired. When people are exposed
to this stress in a course, they are able to
understand how their body responds to cer-
tain situations and how they can best prepare
by utilizing their own assets.
Donna Copeland notes that one-time semi-
nars are better than no experience, but lack the
benefits of a repetitive course. "One time is
good, but with repetition, you have given your-
self long-term tools to use."
The Quest Center provides a couple of private
lessons before the scheduled group classes, for
which participants wear a gi, a traditional mar-
tial arts uniform. An adult coach, such as Ryan
Sullivan, meets with first timers for initial pri-
vate lessons. He repeated the importance of
social skills that are integral of the Quest
Center's program. "We build on the character of
the person," Sullivan said. "An introduction
when we shake hands and make eye contact or
giving high fives, which we do all the time -
that is so important. Have you stood in a bank
line? Everyone is looking around and not talk-
ing. We want to move away from the closed-off
society we are in."
This sense of community was what brought
Christopher Scholl, another adults' coach at the
Quest Center, to the art. "I really like the com-
munity and the people I met." Scholl has been
practicing martial arts for about four years, but
chose to-shin do after watching his sister
advance in the program.
Sullivan explains that each level is gradual
and very repetitive in that it utilizes basic move-
ments for protection. He notes that verbal con-
trol, for instance, can be a huge part of self-
defense. "If girls knew how to yell, they could
protect themselves so much better," Sullivan
comments. Though the concept seems simple, it
is in fact necessary to practice yelling. My
punches and kicks were stronger and more
forceful once I had been able to yell from my
lower stomach and not just with my voice.
Some of the techniques, while self-evident,
need to be followed for protection. Primarily, if
the surroundings are suspicious, remove your-
self safely from that place. This is especially
difficult, yet crucial if the assailant is someone
you know. Next, establish clear verbal bound-
aries by using your voice. In high-stress situa-
tions, people's voices clamp up, and they are
unable to scream. It is necessary to be firm, but
not offensive, as this will draw the attention of
people around you and will surprise the attack-
er. Lastly, if the attacker does not stop, you
should protect yourself fiercely.
"If you know the person is a predator, do
everything you can to win," Donna Copeland
stresses. "You can't give up. You have to keep
looking for openings."
There are certain vulnerable areas that
attackers usually leave unprotected while in a
fight. The shin, the part of the leg below the
knee, is an especially important target that
can help push someone away. In addition, the
arch of the foot is tender and can be injured
simply by stomping down on it with force.
Though proper instruction is necessary to
avoid injury to your body, instructors advise that
in dangerous situations, one should do all that is
necessary to escape. Powerful kicks that can be
directed between men's legs will send the
attacker back, providing enough time to run and
scream for help. If the victim's hands are free,
the victim may pop the assailant's ears by clap-
ping the hands over the ears.
Using the palm of the hand, victims should
push up from under the attacker's nose, which
can either break the bone or at least severely
impair the assailant. While running from the
attacker, the element of surprise can be
reduced if the victim backs away from the
attacker. When out of reach, it is safe to turn
and run, always keeping in mind to make as
much noise as possible.
First timers should not fear that their novice
skills will displace them. The courses are per-
sonal since instructors cater the course to indi-
vidual needs. It is imperative that students
become aware of their surroundings and devel-
op and maintain healthy defensive skills.
PHOTOS BY DAVID TUMAN/Daily
You are never too young to learn how to kick some.