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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    SBU Self-Defense Course: Avoiding an Attack

    Lt. Thomas Clark of the University Police thought self-defense was importantenough that he enrolled his 13 year-old daughter in a six-week course, and nowhe is trying to teach students at Stony Brook University what she learned.

    The University Police Department, in cooperation with the Campus RecreationOffice, has been running self-defense courses several times during the semesterin the Wellness Center.

    The classes, taught by Clark, emphasize prevention, teaching students to bemore aware of their surroundings. According the Clark, this being more awarehelps people to avoid actually having to defend themselves.

    ‘Ninety-five percent of self-defense is prevention,’ Clark said.

    The program was created when the police department’#146;s Community Relationsteam wanted to do something that would benefit the community at large. Thisis the second three-week session of classes that Clark has held this semester,and there is still one more class, on April 24, for those interested.

    Clark focuses mainly on teaching female self-defense, although male studentsare welcome. However, he says the course is more helpful for women because ofthe differences between the ways in which men and women are attacked.

    Men victimizing men tend to be more ritualistic in their encounters, with plentyof pushing, shoving, and talking before any attack comes, Clark said. When awoman is attacked by a man there is usually pulling and tugging, as the attackertries to use superior strength to overcome his victim. Attackers typically usedeception to get close to their victims, asking for the time, or begging forspare change, Clark added.

    Students are taught about the ‘triangle of opportunity’ that existsbetween attacker, victim, and the moment of opportunity. By becoming more aware,women remove that opportunity and are less likely to find themselves in a vulnerableposition.

    ‘If you couple [self-defense] with common sense, you’#146;re going tobe that much safer,’ Officer Dennis Aitken, one of Clark’#146;s assistants,said.

    The class teaches basic self-defense tactics such as palm, elbow and knee attacks.Palm strikes, to the chin and face, and knee strikes to the groin are used whenthe attacker is in front. Elbow strikes are used when the attacker is comingfrom behind.

    Clark also trains students to keep their eyes on the attacker’#146;s shoulders,as any powerful movement will originate there. He encourages his pupils to getinvolved in some of the campus martial arts clubs to further their development.

    Class members thought that the techniques were especially useful during thespring and summertime. Bonnie Smart, a staff member of the university’#146;sElectrical Engineering program, likes to take walks at night, and said thatknowing self-defense was a good idea.

    ‘I don’#146;t want to be afraid,’ she said.

    Barbara Branca, director of communications at NY Seagrant at Marine Sciencessaid that learning self-defense helped her because women are trained not tobe aggressive, and the program helps them learn their bodies.

    ‘When you have that confidence, it shows,’ she said, ‘and peoplestay away from you.’quot

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