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Armor without armor: essential self defense

Living on a campus located in Atlanta, Georgia State students are exposed to diverse potential threats that other sheltered college students are not. Threats such as muggings and sexual assault make knowing basic self-defense an indispensable skill.

Divas in Defense is a school located in Atlanta that has a mission to empower women to fight back.

Skye Walton, the Director of Client Relations and Trainer of Divas in Defense, shares how the classes work and the substance of learning self-defense skills. Walton is a fourth degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.

“For me, I have grown up with self-defense,” Walton said. “I have been doing it since four years old.”

The female-only school offers a safe space for women who may have previously been attacked, have come close and simply want to learn the act of self-defense for the benefit. The capability of women, or any gender, to handle themselves in possible danger is always important.

“Self-Defense is essential for anyone, it does not matter where they stay, their occupation, their gender nor their age,” Walton said. “If you look like a victim, an attacker will attack.”

The day to night life of an urban city involves a melting pot of people from all walks of life. This means crime is just a reality that could be around the corner, rather literally.

“I have seen how confident and empowered one feels after they have accomplish a technique,” Walton said. “I have seen customers who have been attacked and after a few classes they are just vibrant with power of ‘I can do this’”.

Wake Forest University

The Classes

The classes are capable of being attended by women of all ages and backgrounds. Younger girls, college students and older women all have classes that can be geared towards them.

“The great thing about Divas In Defense is that we teach moves off of your basic instinct,” Walton said.

As far as difficulty goes, the classes have different goals and methods for each course.

“Self-defense can range from completion style trophy winning training to a class you attend once a month just to brush up on your techniques,” Walton said.

All classes, starting from the age of four, go into real life scenarios. These scenarios train from “What If?” frameworks.

“We have a college workshop called “On Her Own,” where they learn how to use techniques if they are being attacked by a person, more than one person, in the club, or simply leaving the library,” Waltons said. “So we tend to follow that same format with all our classes. Tips, Teach, Implement.”

At Divas in Defense, a non-lethal training and firearm safety class is offered. The self-defense course can be chosen to be taken individually or in a group format.

A type of class offered is called “Fierce and Fabulous”. It’s an intro level hand-to-hand combat program that’s available for women 16 and older. Not only are physical skills learned, the topics of rape awareness, assertiveness and boundary setting are discussed and taught.

“Kicks and Cocktails” is a private corporate option, where, besides self-defense, pepper spray and stun gun training are instructed.

In the classes there is a quintessential take away from each one that Divas in Defense stresses: T.A.R.A. It means to “turn around and run away.”

“No matter what strike you are going to do, calling T.A.R.A. is your best defense,” Walton said.

A Move For You

According to Walton, a move can not be perfected simply by reading about it and hypothesizing how to go about it. It has to be practiced and worked through. However, some information and moves could help the next time there’s a sketchy situation.

Target the Nose

The nose can be attacked the hardest when hit with a full open palm, aiming for the very front tip of the nose.

Break the Grip

If someone has a tight grip on your wrist, rotate yours where your thumb lines up with where the attacker’s thumb meets their fingers and jerk sharply.

Universal Defense Tips

From Skye Walton herself and from some common sense, here are some tips to keep in your mind when walking alone.

1. Walk Wide Around Building Corners

When doing this, it makes it harder from getting jumped or makes someone being around the corner easier to see.

2. Use a safety app.

Becoming more popular as time passes, apps are getting created that make your walk home feel more and more secure. Apps include Companion and Stay Safe. These apps send updates to your friends on your walk, an active gps for them to be able to check in on you and fast access for emergency help. ‘

3. Learn How to Use Your Voice

Do not be afraid to call out for help or call someone out to come towards you. Being loud  when in danger is never a problem. Use your voice and use it strongly.

4. Keep Eyes and Ears Open

Pay attention to your surroundings. While you can be in the zone while exercising and it can add less motony for your walk home at night to add headphones, being aware of where you and who is around you is a must. Headphones is a sign of vulnerability.

5. Update those close to you.

Let family and friends know where you are going and when you should be expected         

back. That way, if something were to happen, you know the people in your life will be    looking.

6. Keep Your Valuables Off

If you are in a state of dress or doing something that requires flashy jewelry, items, or wear: Change it when walking around or moving throughout the city. Throw it in your bag, change your shoes and anything else that might make you feel more comfortable.

7. Invest in Pepper Spray

Even if you never get the chance to use it, knowing you have it can make you all the more secure.

8. Don’t Cause More Conflict

If you are in fear for your life and there is an easy diffuser, use it. If a mugger asks for your purse, give it up immediately. Throw it away from you and run.

9. Speak to Your “Follower”

If you feel you are being followed, turnaround, stall and make an attempt to go in a different direction. Never expose your back while doing this.

10. Get Used to Increasing Your Peripheral Vision

Being able to widen the scope of your eyesight can help you be more aware of who is around you. A potential practice could entail identifying items around you off to the side.

Upcoming Atlanta Classes

On Her Own

Sept. 19

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

$149

This class is designed for high school juniors/seniors and college women who will be or currently living alone.

The course offers empowerment, inspiration and some street fighting skills developed to counterattack a perpetrator, including a quickly learned skill for fleeing sexual assault.

The four hour class includes elements of person safety including date rape drugs, jogging safety, parking lot strategies and more.

Self-Defense at Georgia State

Available through the Recreation Center here at Georgia State, one of the Instructional Clinics offered is a class called “Lotus Self-Defense”.

Within Lotus, it entails of martial arts skills such as punches, kicks, blocks and rolls all based around and for self-defense.

They are given on Thursdays from instructor Michael. For more information, contact sbelcher@gsu.edu.