I've been meaning to take a self-defense class forever. Seriously. You know the day dinosaurs were invented? It was the day before that. As a single girl who lives alone -- I write under a pen name so don't try to abduct me, you dummies -- I have a pretty serious need to take care of myself. Mace would be a great idea. Wasp spray an even better one. A gun would be fantastic, if I weren't so confident my cat would accidentally shoot me.
Cut to the present. I get an email: "Hey you wanna take a self-defense class tomorrow night?" The obvious answer is "yep," but my response was "maybe." First I needed to ask a co-worker if I should really skip Zumba for self-defense? "Like really really? You're sure?" "Yes, dummy, take the class." And off we go.
The class I signed up for is a weird little hybrid of huh and what located in Snider Plaza. Every other week this thing called Tough Fitness starring Evan Duncan teaches a self-defense class in a boutique named Bevello. (The class costs only $20, but you save 20 percent off your entire Bevello purchase, so spend $100 and break even, Steven.)
Each class lasts 45 minutes to an hour which is PERFECT. Duncan likes to focus on three or four moves instead of overloading your brain with a shitload of defense strategies you'll forget the minute you walk out the door. He brings an assistant, too, and demonstrates everything thoroughly before it's your turn.
Guess what? Self-defense isn't anything like that episode of Designing Women where they yelled NO and kneed an overly padded man in the crotch. With Duncan, you'll learn genuinely useful moves and you can save the crotch kicks for co-workers.
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The first thing we learned was how to escape a wrist grab. Then we moved on to escaping a choke-hold from behind and for the grand finale -- how to flip an attacker off you when he (or she, no need for sexism) is sitting on your chest. The best part is going home and saying, "Come on, try to attack me," then making whomever do it in the most prescriptive way so you're sure to wriggle free. It worked every time.
You know at the end of every sitcom when they teach you the valuable lesson? This write-up is about to be that. The thing that was most impressive was Duncan's sincere commitment to teaching women to take care of themselves. Several high school girls were in the class, and the way he handled the delicate situation of saying, "Look, this shit happens everyday. You have to be prepared," was impeccable. First of all, THIS SHIT HAPPENS EVERYDAY AND WE HAVE TO BE PREPARED. But to say that in front of a group of young girls and their mothers isn't easy. Duncan managed to do it in a way that was completely void of all caps and scare tactics. He made excellent points about paying attention to your surroundings without becoming paranoid and the whole damn thing was completely empowering. He made us repeat the moves over and over again because as he explained in the heat of the moment there's no time to think, "OK, rotate my wrist up towards the attacker's thumb ..." In fact, there's no time to think at all. There's only time to act and if we practice, practice, practice, those defense moves become second nature, which is precisely the point.
And since every class teaches you different moves, there's a strong chance I'll turn up at Bevello after hours again. Of course next time I'll take a friend. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I couldn't help but feel at ease, but the last thing you do in class is line up and take turns punching, kicking and attacking a football pad, and when you're imaginarily attacking a padded thing in front of an audience, you kind of feel like a turd. And that's when you need the buddy because we all need a familiar high five after beating the crap out of a football pad.
Feeling a little GI Jane? Sign up for tonight's class on Facebook. Just write on the wall. Class begins at 7 p.m. at Bevello, 6818 Snider Plaza Blvd.