Self-defense classes geared toward females
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 01:09
When senior Bryan Stephan showed up on the first day of a one-credit self-defense course this semester, he said he felt out of place among the other students.
Stephan said the majority of the class was made up of freshmen and sophomore girls.
“It wasn’t like the class was geared more towards women, but if I was going to do a self-defense class and trying things out I wouldn’t want to be the only guy with a bunch of smaller girls,” Stephan said.
Stephan said after the first meeting he dropped the physical education class offered by the department of behavioral health and nutrition because he was only taking it out of curiosity and he felt outnumbered by the amount of girls.
If there had been more men participating or there was a separate class for men, Stephan said he would have felt more comfortable and would have most likely stayed in the class. He said self-defense classes often train women to defend themselves against male attackers, which made him feel awkward in the class.
The class instructor could not be reached for comment.
Besides the physical education classes offered for credit, there are various martial arts clubs where both genders can participate.
Senior Mac Nagaswami, president of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club said while the majority of members are men, women are also involved and equally skilled in practice matches and tournaments. He said he believes it is important for both men and women to take self-defense classes together to emphasize equality and respect.
“It’s almost discriminatory to say that they should have their own separate classes,” Nagaswami said. “They’re there to get trained in martial arts so give them the same class and give them the same training.”
One of the aspects about jiu jitsu that makes the sport favorable for women is that it is based more on technique rather than physical power and as a result, is geared towards smaller people, he said.
“A general rule of thumb is that regardless of the sex, if you are larger than the person that you’re grappling, you don’t use muscle to out power them,” Nagaswami said. “So if I am grappling a female that’s smaller than me, I don’t use any type of muscular advantage, I just go solely off technique.”
Freshman Sydne Puk-Silverstein said the thought of sharing a self-defense class with men is odd to her.
“I feel like girls should be separated that way they would know how to defend themselves against men and their fighting style,” she said. “So I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, just perplexed, if there were guys in the same class as me.”
The Office of Public Safety offers a rape self-defense class for women on campus through the international company, Rape Aggression Defense Systems, Inc.
Unlike other clubs on campus, men are forbidden from enrolling in the class because of the Bureau of Justice Code, according to Sgt. David Bartolf, who is in charge of registration for the class. He added that many of the students who attend are often survivors of rape or sexual assault.