This morning (Tuesday, March 28, 2017) I attended a shortened version of the mostly women’s self-defense class led by persons from “Fighting Chance Seattle.” Fighting Chance Seattle is a martial arts studio or club with a monthly class on the topic of women’s self-defense.
The studio or club was in the news after an attack upon Kelly Herron a woman who was running to train for a marathan. She stopped at a bathroom while running at a park and was attacked by an assaillant who seems to have been hiding in the bathroom.
Herron had taken a 90-minute version of the class a few weeks prior to the attack upon her and the class gave her courage and some ideas about fighting back. Herron fought. She was bloodied and bruised and the attacker was bloodied and bruised and the attacker was locked in the bathroom till police arrived.
About 2 weeks ago, komonews or another site indicated that RealSelf or Fighting Chance would be offering another self-defense class, free and open to the public. I signed up.
This class was set to be between 7 and 9 in the morning. Between 7 and 8 there was registration and admittance and between 8 and 9 was the class itself.
The class students were several hundred women and 2 (or a handful) of guys.
Media persons were there from komonews, king5 and other media sources of unknown identity. It is possible that there were media persons there from 4 or 5 media sources.
The place were also set up to sell t-shirts, sized for either men or women, though with lots more of them for women. The t-shirts in black have a graph showing the gps tracker data of Kelly during her attack on the front and 4 basic principles taught by Fighting Chance on the back.
Before the class I browsed the crowd. Persons did not make a lot of eye-contact or greetings to me, till I noticed one woman who turned out to be a helper trainer for
Fighting Chance. She and I chatted briefly about her going to fighting chance and how and why she choose it.
The class consisted of some breathing for relaxation, then learning a small bit of philosophy and seeing and practicing 4 basic striking moves. The philosophy consisted in learning to have boundaries and say no. The class dramatically outnumbered the assistants with padded hands and most persons practiced striking the air in front of them rather than a person or an item.
The woman media person from komonews was notable during this part because she joined in with the crowd and learned and practiced the striking moves.
The leader was hoping to get to demonstrating 5 basic striking moves, but he actually only got to demonstrating 4. The 4 striking moves were 1) a palm-strike with palms going forward or upward; 2) a diagnonally inward swing called by some people rolling the dice; 3) a forearm push with the forearm held horizontal as a barrier to another person’s approach; 4) using the elbow or wrist to attack behind you when you are attacked from behind by a person using the grip to hold you with his hands across your chest, rather than in the grip that can kill you or knock you out by constricting your neck.
The diagonally inward swing thing would do serious harm to a person if “you” are able to hit a person’s neck with it. The disadvantage to it is that it takes longer and is more telegraphed than a fast palm-strike. It also seems that the inward diagonal swing would be applied at about half the distance of a palm-strike.
I am not sure that the forearm push thing would help a lot. Probably for many people an important part of the class is encouraging women (and giving them moral permission) who are being attacked to fight back with brutality, if needed, to stop an attack.
After class was over I and others bought various of the t-shirts. I figured I should wear it at Greenlake at times, perhaps in the fall when there are the teen and college aged youth who run and do track.
In the after-class time I also spoke briefly with Kelly. I had read her story online and wonder about the initial fraction of a second in which she became aware of the guy right behind her.
Could she have pushed him away or even struck him, if she was certain as she is reported online to have known he was doing bad?
I asked and when she first saw the guy, she was shocked at finding another person in the bathroom with her when she had thought she was alone in the bathroom. She did not immediately push him away or attack him because of her shock and not initially realizing he was a threat, contrary to what some news stories report.
If she had known instantly he was an assaillant and reacted immediately, she might have attacked him with a palm-strike and that might have stopped the attack completely, she says.
But many people are not going to react immediately by striking the potential assaillant even if the assaillant is within 2 feet or a dangerous distance . . . People tend to take time to analyze a situation which is new to them.
Some of you have seen the movie Sully, showing that Sullenberger did right to land the plane in the river. The key to the claim that Sully did right lay in the fact that we have to give him time to perceive the bird strike, the loss of both engines and to make a decision as to what to do. The delay in action due to time spent analyzing and deciding what to do reduces the available good options.
Kelly Herron maybe could have struck the assaillant man before he struck her (or attempted to push him away) and she maybe could have stopped the attack before it had begun, but that may be assuming she took no decision time. Most law-abiding people do not strike first (or push first), even when there is a stranger in the bathroom at a menacing distance.
After having been threatened a dozen times and grabbed or swung at, I would tend to be inclined to perhaps at least push someone away who was unexpectedly within 2 feet, for no good reason or with hostile intent. If a person is slightly farther away, his ability to launch an attack upon “you” is greatly reduced because beginning an attack telegraphs the attack. Within about 2 feet, person A can launch an attack on person B without person B having much recourse. So, I like the idea of hostile persons staying or standing on the outside of arms length, rather than talking to me or approaching me within arms length.
If you read the news, there are at times when we read of even police officers who get hit or nearly hit by hostile persons in certain riots or half-riots. Most people don’t do kicking; most people do hitting with the hand or fist. In order to successfully hit a guy with your hand, you and he have to be within a certain distance. If you are 3 feet apart, it is not going to happen.
If your hand is up as a barrier, a potential assaillant who wishes to hit you must either be larger than you or breach the barrier of your upheld hand, indicating his very hostile intent.
Or, at least, so I think. So, conversations with some people at 2.5 feet is lots better than at 1.5 feet. My fist, on the arm extended directly in front of me, is at 24 inches away. For most people, given their training and reaction time, it is not possible to meaningfully respond to a strike quickly launched at less than 2 feet. For a lot of people, they have at least a chance to deflect an attack launched at more than 2 feet away.