Sinking into self-defense training

By Kate Hayden,

I don’t know why I’ve wasted time trying to convince myself to like jogging. It’s just not the same as practicing to swiftly kick an approaching attacker in the groin.

I was one of seven women to take the Nashua Police Department up on an offer Tuesday evening: a free, two-hour self defense course tailored for women at the Husky Wellness Center. A second session was held on Wednesday.

There are several takeaways from the instructors, but one felt almost poignant in nature.

“We know that you will not rise to the occasion in a critical incident. You will sink to the level of your training,” Nashua Police Chief Travis Marvin advised.

In other words: practice, practice, practice.

Other key pieces to know: Rely on explosive speed in your movements, not strength. Strike confidently and explosively at soft, vulnerable targets (like the groin) on your attacker, and don’t stop until they are disabled (then run). The goal is to maintain distance between you and your threat.

Marvin and Nashua Officer Ben Scholl first hosted the class last winter at the request of the Husky Wellness Center, Marvin said.

“There were some more people after the first one that wanted to do it again. We just decided on a whim to contact the Wellness Center and set up another couple-day course,” he said.

Marvin is a defensive tactics instructor through the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, and developed a lesson plan of tactics he felt would be most useful in a critical incident against women. Scholl, an instructor with the U.S. Concealed Carry Association and an instructor with the American Red Cross, assisted during training.

“The most important thing that I wanted to put across today was the awareness level. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times,” Marvin said. “Prevent a critical incident before it happens.”

That means cutting down on staring at phones or plugging in on headphones in public — or at home.

Know who’s around you; give street corners a wide berth. Act quickly in a critical incident.

“A lot of women and even men, they don’t have the training, they feel that, ‘I can’t fight off a big attacker, I can’t do that,'” Scholl said. “Some of the women here tonight had said, ‘I’m not going to be able to do that,’ but they did. They are able to do it with that explosive movement, and that’s a confidence booster for them.

“That’s huge going into or trying to escape a situation.”

The Nashua Police Department will announce future classes, including a public conceal-carry course in early 2018, at the department Facebook page: @NashuaPoliceiowa. Other classes held at the Husky Wellness Center are posted on the center’s Facebook page: @HuskyWellnessCenter.