A session for empowerment

Self-defense clinic offers training for safety and awareness


Photo by Rachel Streich

With the help of instructors, students practice ways of getting out of grabs at the self-defense clinic on Saturday in McPhee Physical Education Center.

Standing across from each other, friends Bobbi Freagon and Maggie Zeidel powerfully broke free from one another’s grasp and kicked a black padded shield. Down a row, 12 others partnered up as well. They practiced these basic moves and more to protect themselves in the event of a less-than-friendly situation.

On Saturday evening, attendees of the self-defense clinic in McPhee Physical Education Center learned new defensive maneuvers as well as tips and pointers from instructors in the Hwa Rang Do martial arts club.

The organization holds the sessions once a month in the wrestling room, but last weekend they moved to another room just down the hall, welcoming students and community members.

Trevor Hanson, head instructor, began and ended the event with some advice in addition to the main lessons demonstrating the moves. Hanson said the clinic is a positive opportunity for people on and off campus to stay safe in any environment.

“Empowerment is always a good thing,” he said. “It’s good to have something like this to alleviate worries.”

During the clinic, he stressed being aware of surroundings and trusting instincts in a situation that may be unsafe. He said he hoped to give participants practical skills as a way of serving the community.

ML Tlachac, a senior and the club’s representative, also helped attendees throughout the event and said an appeal of the class is that it’s for anyone, regardless of their ability or physicality.

“Size isn’t the most important thing,” Tlachac said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, and that’s kind of part of martial arts in general … You expand the knowledge that you have.”

Freagon and Zeidel trekked across upper campus on a whim and said the experience was worth it.

“Without having any background, it’s good to be able to come learn the basics,” Freagon said.

While the subject of self-defense is serious, students still laughed and created a lighthearted atmosphere while they continued to perfect techniques such as twisting out of holds with their partners.

Tlachac said the turnout was good and the event was successful, as other self-defense clinics have had varying numbers.

“It just makes me feel good inside to know that we’re helping people,” Tlachac said. “It’s giving them options if they’re in a situation to know what they can do.”

Around 15 members in Hwa Rang Do also participate in other service events such as the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in September. Tlachac said reaching out to campus and beyond is an important aspect of the group.

When the session drew to a close, freshman Timothy Meerstein said he took away valuable lessons and a heightened sense of confidence from the event.

“One thing I learned is that I have more power than I thought,” he said.

While the self-defense clinic on Saturday was the last one of the semester, the classes will continue after winter break to offer more students and community members the chance to gain skills in protecting themselves.