Monday, May 3, 2010

Self-Defense Seminar a Part of Peace Week

Master Trent Norrell and the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Karate Club worked with the P.E.A.C.E. organization on campus to host a self-defense seminar Wednesday night.

P.E.A.C.E, which stands for Peace, Education and Activism through Creative Engagement, is a university-sponsored organization designed to promote peace, equality and justice through activism, education and creative engagement.

The self-defense seminar is part of the organization’s Peace Week. The event was coordinated by one of their co-presidents, Katka Showers-Curtis. Showers-Curtis said they had been considering a self-defense seminar for a long time and felt it would fit in well with the week’s plans.

“P.E.A.C.E. has been working a lot with women’s issues this year,” Showers-Curtis said. “All year we’ve been doing events that correlate with women’s issues. The self-defense seminar isn’t to teach people how to attack other people, but what to do and take care of yourself if you get attacked.”

A fourth-degree black belt, Norrell teaches beginning self-defense and advanced taekwondo at the university, as well as runs the Warhawk Karate Club. He kicked off the seminar with the three As of self defense: be aware of your surroundings, assess the situation and take action.

“Self-defense is an awareness,” Norrell said. “It differs from martial arts in that it focuses on the practical and [doing] whatever it takes [to get away].”

Black belts Austin Sams and Jonathon Nagel helped Norrell teach individuals a variety of offensive techniques, which included the palm-heel strike, groin clap and vertical elbow strike. Attendees also learned how to throw off and escape from an attacker who has them on the ground.

“I wanted them [Norrell and Sams] to focus on how to get away, and not necessarily on how to beat someone to a pulp,” Showers-Curtis said. “If you are in a dangerous situation, how to get out of it the quickest way and get away, because if you stay and fight you could get hurt worse.”

Norrell has taught hundreds of self-defense seminars over the years, and said the most challenging part for individuals is to overcome their fears and attend the seminars.

“Some people don’t come because of the fear of the unexpected,” Norrell said. “Some
people don’t come because they are fearful of facing the fact they may have to defend themselves, and some people are possibly afraid because maybe they have been attacked, and they don’t want to relive it. We get that a lot actually. Reliving it can be very difficult.”

Rachel Sanders, a sophomore, said even though Whitewater is a pretty safe campus, she thought it would be a good idea to learn some self-defense moves. Sanders said she would like to see more seminars on campus in the future.

“You never know what could happen,” Sanders said. “On campus, if you are walking alone at night, you don’t have to fear someone, you will know how to protect and defend yourself in any situation.”

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