Self-Defense for Women

Out of the 1.3 million women in Oregon, 230,000 have been raped, according to the Center Against Rape & Domestic Violence (CARDV). And even as one of the safest towns in the country, there were 11 reports of forcible rapes in Corvallis in 2012, according to the FBI.

Self defense class in session
Self defense class in session

In short, every woman should know how to protect herself from an attacker. More importantly, every woman should know how to avoid a bad situation at all costs. Basic situational awareness, common sense, and self-confidence can deter an attacker, but learning self-defense from experts in the field is an irreplaceable preventative measure.

Luckily, there are many ways to learn self-defense in the Corvallis area.

Types of Self-Defense
There are many ways to learn self-defense, and martial arts is an obvious way do so. Jim Hardison, a patrol deputy of 15 years, teaches self-defense classes at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and is an instructor at Oregon Pound Martial Arts. He didn’t hesitate to explain self-defense from the perspective of a law enforcement officer. “They [martial arts] all have their strengths and limitations,” says Hardison, “but the best martial arts is the one you practice on a regular basis, because that is the one you will use in a stressful situation.”

Mike Downing is the owner of Oregon Pound Martial Arts in Corvallis, an expert in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do, and has worked patrol for 25 years with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. Offering martial arts training to people of all ages, Oregon Pound focuses on self-defense techniques. Jiu Jitsu is a form of ground fighting with the driving philosophy that most fights will end up on the ground, so that’s where the training should be. It uses techniques specifically for a smaller person to defend against a larger opponent, using leverage and strategy.

In an average evening Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, Downing teaches his students how to escape an attacker who is straddling them on the ground. Students who attend Oregon Pound Jiu Jitsu regularly tell of gained self-confidence and awareness through the training.

Counterstrikes is a self-defense studio in north Albany, owned and operated by Jack Burright, a SWAT team commander for 16 years and a former Benton County sheriff’s sergeant. His approach to self-defense involves more striking, kicking, and situational techniques. Counterstrikes not only offers martial arts self-defense classes for all ages and skill levels, but also firearms training.

Other forms of self-defense, such as pepper spray or a concealed handgun, can also be effective. However, these weapons are only effective if they are in hand when an attacker strikes. “[Weapons] are excellent, if you are proficient with them,” Hardison says, but they won’t help “if you can’t access that weapon, because you haven’t practiced, or you don’t know where it is.”

Why Take a Self-Defense Class?
Not only are martial arts a great workout, they help maintain strength, discipline, and awareness. Burright and Hardison believe one of the biggest mistakes women make in terms of self-defense is complacency. And while one or two classes may help awareness, only practice and long-term training can give someone the confidence and skills necessary to win in a real fight.

Don’t make the mistake of complacency; there are cases of Corvallis women fighting off attackers and winning.

Gina Remington, a local physician, has attended Counterstrikes self-defense classes for five years. After being threatened by a man at her clinic, she realized it would in her best interest to learn how to protect herself. As a mother, she also wanted to know how to protect her children, who now attend self-defense classes as well. She says learning self-defense has given her confidence and is a great skill for women to gain.

Taking a self-defense class is something that will benefit anyone, especially women. Unfortunately, a lot of interest in self-defense tends to be reactive to certain events, such as recent assaults or kidnappings in the news, when it should be proactive. To be prepared for that terrifying moment could save a life, and continued training will allow for clearer thinking in that stressful situation. At the very least, consider taking a few classes and be one step ahead of the bad guy, because these days we should all know it’s every woman for herself.

Interested in taking a self-defense class?
Oregon Pound Martial Arts
Mike Downing, 541-929-5503

Jack Burright, 541-990-4010

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