I, like about 25 other women, left my first basic self-defense class Thursday feeling empowered.
Kyra Hudspeth, who is a second-degree Taekwondo black belt and a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer, taught the first of four self-defense classes at the Town Center.
“Everyone needs self-defense,” said Hudspeth.
Throughout the first session, those attending primarily listened to Hudspeth instruct on what to know about self-defense and the last 15 minutes were spent on practicing basic moves.
Like everyone else in the class, this was my first self-defense course and I absorbed every piece of information Hudspeth offered like a sponge.
She went over fundamental tools, or “A, B, C, D’s” Awareness, Be ready, Call 911 and Defend.
Awareness looks like being intentionally observant, standing tall and making deliberate eye contact with strangers.
“You can be the eyes of a young victim,” Hudspeth said. “You are practicing self-defense for your own people who you love … and that’s where this awareness first comes in.”
Attendees voiced objects that can be tools for people to “be ready,” such as knives, pepper spray, keys, batons, Tasers, guns, defense gloves, books and chairs.
“Carry what you need to carry with you,” Hudspeth said.
Some places people can keep these tools are in their purses, gym bags and vehicles.
Hudspeth said she did not categorize the tools as weapons because people are the weapons.
“This is a positive term — this is like you are a Samurai; you are a Power Ranger, level up — whatever superhero you want to be,” she said.
What makes people weapons is using their voices, elbows, knees, palms, body weight and maintaining the spirit of fighting back.
“Stay with the fight,” Hudspeth said. “Fight smart.”
She listed 10 tips to remember in possible threat situations, which include:
• going with a gut instinct;
• identifying threat signs of individuals, like drug influence, a hidden face, hands staying in pockets, seen several times in one location, and talking to children to distract parents, so a child may be abducted. “A person in distress is not always in distress;”
• robbery, in which case people should throw away their purse or wallet because “you need your life. You need your body;”
• run or crawl;
• if put into a trunk, break the trunk lights and pull wiring, so a hand or piece of clothing may be waved out the back “to get attention;”
• do not sit and fiddle in cars, rather “load up, lock doors and leave.” Hudspeth said parking garages and taking the stairs are not the safest options;
• a crying baby scam, where someone plays a recording of a baby crying to lure and kidnap. People should immediately call 911;
• do not have sympathy. “Get the correct officials involved;”
• water running scam, where someone may turn water on outside to also lure and harm;
• older adult needing help;
• male and female teams target a child for abduction and/or slave trade.
Hudspeth also gave 10 tactics people can use.
“The elbow should be your No. 1 go-to,” she said.
People can also improve their body language and eye contact with others.
A “safe circle,” or personal space can also be protected, where strangers can be told to “back up.”
Using mirrors or other reflective objects to be aware of surroundings is helpful, as well.
People should also be loud with their voice if someone else is making them uncomfortable, such as saying, “stop touching me” or “help!”
Other tactics include: fighting, knowing vital bodily target areas and learning self-defense.
Body areas include: eyes, temple, groin, nose, neck, solar plexus, ears, fingers, jaw, cheek and collar bones.
Hudspeth also said it is pertinent that people are comfortable calling 911 and that they practice (not literally dialing) calling 911 by saying their emergency, location, name and what’s going on around them by describing sensory aspects.
“I want you to have control and confidence if you’re ever in that situation to say, ‘I can gather information and defend myself with my awareness,’” she said.
Basic moves attendees practiced included high and low blocks and an elbow variation of an uppercut. Some strikes practiced were knee strikes, groin kicks and collar chops.
More physical learning of self-defense moves will be practiced at the next classes.
The remaining three classes will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 13, 20 and 27. It is $10 to attend.