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The Scarlet & Black

Self defense workshop draws crowds and saftey

Tucked away in small-town Iowa amid declarations that Grinnell College is a “safe space,” it is often easy to forget that insulated as we might be, we are still a part of a larger whole. With this in mind, Live Well Grinnell and the RLC Programming Series brought to campus a self-defense workshop.

Savannah Duby '13 practices escaping from grabs with her partner while instructor Forrest Gibson gives advice on Wednesday evening in Loose Lounge. Photograph taken by Avery Rowlison.

When Jen Jacobsen ’95, co-sponsor of the event, was initially approached with the idea, she thought it would not be popular. However, Grinnellians proved her wrong in both sessions held on campus, one on April 13 and another on April 20. The turnout in Loose Lounge, where both sessions were held, was better than expected.

“Darren and I figured we’d be satisfied if we had about 10 participants. That would be time and money well spent serving those 10,” Jacobsen said. “We were pleasantly shocked to have 36 participants at the first session.”

Forrest Gibson, Taekwondo master and the instructor at the workshops, has been operating in Grinnell for almost a year now. Gibson feels that the college community can benefit from the opportunities, learning an art as diverse as Taekwondo offers.
“I think that most people need a basic idea how to defend themselves, and that’s how the idea for this workshop came about,” Gibson said.

Participants at these workshops showed a keen interest in learning the many processes involved in self-defense. Perfecting multiple types of kicks and punches and learning how best to channel the entire body’s power, participants also practiced basic escape strategies in case of an attack.

Olessya Valger, Language Assistant, felt that the uses of this workshop extend beyond the obvious one of escaping a sudden attack.

“I especially liked the kicks, because that’s what you see in movies and can really help you when you want to kick your boyfriend when he doesn’t give you the chocolate from the fridge,” she said. “On a more serious note, I hope I will never have to use these, but if I do, I think I’ll be able to defend myself.”

Steve Briscoe, Director of Campus Safety and Security, attended the second session and gave some basic information regarding on-campus security. Basic introductory tips included locking the doors, always being aware of our surroundings, keeping our belongings in sight, and taking a variety of precautionary measures to better safeguard us against any threats that may arise.

“Sometimes I think we get too complacent about the safety of the Grinnell community—it never hurts to be prepared just in case,” Jacobsen said. “We will definitely look into offering this again during fall semester. It would be great if we could attract more faculty, staff and men.”

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    cindyApr 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Self Defense courses are very important for safety. I cannot believe all colleges do not offer these classes. Kuodo’s to you guys!