Department of Public Safety offers self defense course

Tips for Avoiding ConfrontationIf you’ve ever felt uncomfortable walking home or unsure what to do if someone is invading your space a little too much, you might find the self-defense classes being sponsored by the Department of Public Safety this semester helpful.

Assistant Chief of D.P.S. Chad Whittom says he has instructed one-time classes on self-defense methods for several years in the Kirksville community. The class is split into two sections, a discussion and a hands-on experience. They class informs individuals about ways to avoid potentially dangerous situations, as well as how to remove themselves from dangerous situations using basic physical techniques, Whittom says.

“We cover a wide range of situations, from an obnoxious friend to someone attacking you from behind,” Whittom says. “We want to show people that yes, this is something you can do. It’s not about being mean and tough — it’s about using your own abilities to your best advantage.”

The primary goal of the course, Whittom says, is to build the confidence of the participants, and to make individuals aware that they have the ability to protect themselves regardless of size of physical fitness. Several of the tips and physical techniques Whittom demonstrates in his course are aimed at avoiding a large physical confrontation with an assailant.

“The best way to win a fight is to not get into one in the first place,” Whittom says. “If you have to get hands on, that means that something has already gone wrong.”

Students from various backgrounds and degrees of knowledge attended the first class Saturday afternoon.

“For me, I travel a lot by myself, and you can’t really bring a weapon on the plane, so it’s good to have a way to defend myself in foreign countries,” says senior M.K. Jacobi, a first time self-defense course participant.

Freshman Dominic O’Reilly says he signed up for the class out of interest in learning more about personal self-defense, after having previous experience with martial arts training.

“I practice the martial art called Judo for about twelve years,” O’Reilly says.

Whittom encourages one-time participants to find other classes to attend after the introduction his course provides, in order to build confidence and ability with the techniques until they become like second nature, Whittom says. Truman offers a Rape Aggression and Defense class specifically designed for women, and other opportunities for self-defense courses are offered at the Northeast Regional Medical Center and at the Tae-kwon Do Studio downtown. Most classes are taught with a specific audience in mind, Whittom says.

“You can’t get proficient in an hour or two,” Whittom says. “You want to get to a place where you don’t have to think about it when you need it.”

Whittom will be instructing another introductory course at 3 p.m. March 22 in the Student Recreation Center multipurpose room. Whittom will also host the course for student organizations that express interest.