Everyday on the news we see stories of people being beaten, abducted, raped and worse. Wyandot County recently was shaken by two home invasions, one in Upper Sandusky and one in Carey. In both cases, the perpetrators were caught, but those are things that just didn’t happen here in the past.
It is becoming more and more important that we are able to defend ourselves. I recently took a self-defense course with Carey resident B.J. Dunn, a certified self-defense instructor with the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation. Most of her students are women.
“All ladies should take self defense, no matter age, size or if you don’t think you can do it,” Dunn said. “… Every woman needs to know how to physically and mentally defend themselves because the world’s so rough. You never know when (an attack) is going to happen or where it’s going happen. It’s better to know it and not need it than to need it and not know it.”
Dunn has been teaching self defense for 20 years.
“I just got tired of hearing about all the women and kids getting hurt,” Dunn said. “It’s just a thing that we don’t get taught as girls. We’re not fighters, so they really do need to know how to defend themselves. … There’s gonna be a time when you have to use it. Everybody’s in danger because of how the world is.”
The three-hour session was divided into 30-minute segments of verbal lessons and physical maneuvers. According to Dunn, self-defense is more mental than it is physical.
“You really need to know how to think about the situations that you’re in,” she said. “The mental ability is a lot of it. Mentally we can do it. A lot of times, we just don’t stop and think or use our common sense a lot. We use our hearts too much. We think with our hearts and not with our brains.”
Dunn stressed the importance of being aware of your surroundings and using your instincts.
“Being aware is most important of all,” she said. “When an attack comes, you have five to seven seconds to react and you should know what to do before the situation arises. … If you believe in the power to defend yourself, then you have defeated your greatest enemy — your own fear.”
In addition to controlling your fear, Dunn said it also is important to use appropriate body language and eye contact to let would-be attackers know you will not be easily taken advantage of.
“Attackers want an easy target,” Dunn said. “A lot of times, just sticking up for yourself and being assertive can save you from an attack. If you stand up straight with your shoulders back and looking straight ahead and be confident, they won’t pick you. Even if you’re scared to death, look like you’re not. Attitude is everything.”
Dunn also reminded me to always breath to keep my mind working.
“Breathing turns your brain on,” she said. “Your brain is your best defense because it allows you to think of ways to defend yourself and get out of a situation.”
During the physical portion of the class, I learned the correct way to hit and kick. I also learn what spots on the body to hit that can cause the most damage — like the eyes, throat, knees and elbows.
“There are spots on the body that are vulnerable for both males and females and we learn how to do damage to those just to be able to get away from somebody,” Dunn said. “You don’t have to be physically fit because people who are going to attack others don’t wait for physically fit people. They don’t discriminate who they are going to jump on.
“If you hit them anywhere in the stomach area, it’s going to knock the wind out of them,” she added. “If they grab you from behind, stomp on their shin or the top of their foot and they will loosen their hold.”
I was surprised at how simple some of the moves are. I really thought I wasn’t strong enough to defend myself in certain situations, but Dunn showed me I was wrong.
“I try to show simple techniques that everyone can do, like for example when they’re on top of you in a fight and how unbalanced they are on top of you,” Dunn said. “There are things that you can do because they are so off-balance. We don’t use strength against strength because we’re women. It’s the balance and key points in the body to hit so you don’t really need to be in shape.”
Perhaps the toughest part of the lesson for me was fighting with my weaker left hand. Dunn explained why it is important to practice fighting back with both hands.
“Most people are right-handed and a lot of attackers will try to grab you and hold you’re right arm, but if you can fight back with both arms, it doesn’t matter how they grab you,” she said.
Dunn said it is important to protect your head at all times during an attack.
“You have to block so they don’t disable you,” she said. “Block your head with your arms. You always want to protect your head. If they break your arm or leg, those are easy to fix. Your head, not so much.”
I learned how to contract the muscles in my neck to make it harder for someone to choke me out and that once an attacker has me down on the ground, I still can effectively fight back.
“That’s when most women give up, when they are on the ground, but fighting from the bottom sometimes is easier because you don’t have to worry about your balance,” Dunn said. “The size of the person doesn’t matter because it’s all about balance.”
Dunn said every person has five weapons to fight with — their head, two arms and two legs.
“We have these weapons on us at all times, even if we are naked,” she said.
A few other important tips I learned is to never allow an attacker to make you move to a different location and if they force you to go, be sure to leave clues to make sure you are found.
“If he is going to shoot you, make him do it right there,” Dunn said. “No matter what, if you are going to lose your life, lose it right there where people can find you now and call for help, not six months later when they find your remains.
“Never get into a car with anyone,” she added. “It’s best to try to run away because if you get in that car, you’re dead.”
The session was jammed pack with information, including at-home and car safety tips, far too much to include in this article.
“Women need to know this just to get along in the world,” Dunn said. “It gives them more self confidence and makes them not be controlled by others.”
Dunn also offers self-defense classes to area high school students. I was supposed to attend a session with students from Upper Sandusky High School. The First Citizens National Bank paid for six students to take the course, but none showed up. While I was happy to have the individual attention, I was disturbed that teenagers would pass up such an invaluable opportunity.
“It’s hard to get through to the kids,” Dunn said. “They are the invincible ones. They think they are never going to get hurt, never going to need it.”
I was attacked while attending Ohio State University in 1998 and I know the outcome would have been different if I had known the techniques Dunn taught me. I encourage everyone to take a self-defense course. I definitely have piece of mind knowing that I can protect myself.
“I tell every that takes my class, teach your kids, teach your grandparents, teach your mom; everybody needs it,” Dunn said.
Dunn teaches self defense at the Behavior Connection in Wood County. She also teaches classes at her home in Carey.
“If you like what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Dunn said. “I just really like to do it. It’s knowledge that I have in my life and I really like to just pass it on to others and hopefully they pass it forward.”
For more information or to schedule a class, call 419-722-4974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By CHANDA NEELY