Parkside Self Defense: Students, Do You Know How to Protect Yourself?
Student Perspectives Series: Each semester, students of the Comm 350 (Digital Storytelling) class pick a campus event to create a multimedia review. Comm 350 is taught by Professor Anjuli Brekke and teaches students multimedia content creation skills. Through hands-on practice, students learn to put theories into action and to become a creative and effective storyteller in the digital media world.
Have you ever been out in public and seen or heard someone getting into a physical altercation? Did you wonder, “Wow, what if that was me? Could I defend myself?”
Our names are Andrea Demet and Jacob Ramsey, and we took a self-defense class at Parkside to test our abilities. Sure enough, we had only the slightest idea of the proper ways and techniques to get out of bad situations. Luckily for us, UW Parkside’s self-defense class is free of charge and helps prepare students to respond to threats.
This class is run by Kurt Bergendahl, who has been a police officer for over 30 years. The goal of this program is to teach the self-defense curriculum in an effective manner that will maximize the retention of the educational material and physical techniques, giving patrons of the class a variety of self-defense options if they should ever need them.
Kurt wants all students to be able to keep themselves safe: “Well, I think it's important to be able to take care of yourself and defend yourself if something would happen it's important to have skills just like it's important to learn other things, you know, math, English, all these other things growing up. It's also important to know how to protect yourself and be prepared if something were to happen to you so that you can defend yourself and keep yourself safe.”
Kurt dedicated an hour prior to the physical portion of class to asking the students, what is self-defense? Many of us answered with things like “protecting yourself” and “knowing what to do in scary situations.” After this he went through a very in-depth PowerPoint to help us understand safety awareness within different contexts. Being aware of your surroundings can help save your life, and even prevent attacks from happening. The scenarios included were running errands, entering and exiting vehicles, and being out on the town.
Key takeaways from the lesson are to always have your phone charged, pay close attention to your surroundings, and to let others know where you are.
One of the first things that we learned was how to properly stand and ground your feet. This was the most important thing to understand because if you are standing with your hands in your pockets and legs close together, if something were to unfold in front of you, you would not be able to react quickly enough and would end up on the floor or hurt in some way. Secondly, we learned how to punch and kick, and where our target areas are.
Kurt explained the emphasis on the target area and where to strike, reminding us that this is not how to fight like an MMA fighter, but to disable your attacker and get out of situations.
Another important skill we learned is how to get out of a choke hold, a very common go-to for someone trying to hurt you and keep control over you. Kurt demonstrated to keep your chin in the pocket of their elbow to ensure the attacker can’t fully close the arm on your neck.
Although it was not comfortable feeling your jaw be crushed it is nearly impossible for someone in that position to break it. Keeping your chin in their arm allows you to keep breathing.
Lastly and most importantly, we were taught how to defend yourself while on the ground. This was not a very common situation but if it were to happen it was important to know how to perform side to side maneuvers. Keeping your attacker in front of you is ideal to keep them from taking advantage of you. One of the participants said, “So I think the most useful part of this class for me was when we're on the ground and we're kicking people. I feel like if I got in that situation, that'd probably be the most realistic way of going about taking down a suspect or an attacker.”
What makes Kurt’s approach so effective is the fact that he provides insight on not only how to prevent an attack, but also on how to defend yourself. Combining the PowerPoint presentation with the hands-on learning helped us to leave feeling safer. One of the participants said, “It's a scary world out there and I think... any of the students should take this at least once so that they have an idea if they find themselves in those situations.” All of us left feeling more confident in our ability to protect ourselves if these unfortunate circumstances should happen. We encourage everyone to take this course so that they too can feel safer.