Self-defense classes help students prepare for danger

Just about every Marquette student has been there: You’re walking back to your building from the library late at night. Unfortunately, you’re alone. Do you know what to do if someone approaches you?

Marquette’s Department of Public Safety wants to make sure you do.

For the 16th year in a row, DPS will be offering self-defense classes. The classes teach people how to react to situations in which they feel their personal safety has been compromised. Four classes are offered each semester and each one lasts about 90 minutes.

“We’re not just teaching you techniques to defend yourself, but we’re teaching you skills to make sure you do not put yourself in a situation where you would need to defend yourself,” said DPS Lt.  Paul Mascari.

Although the majority of participants are students, the classes are open to any individual affiliated with Marquette. Faculty members, employees and even alumni are all welcome to attend, said Sue Cooper, a DPS officer and member of DPS’ crime prevention division.

Cooper said the classes teach people three main types of self defense: nonverbal, verbal and physical.

Cooper said each person who attends the class should leave feeling more empowered. The self-defense techniques taught in the class are meant to allow people to escape a threatening situation safely. In addition, the class teaches each participant how to avoid potentially threatening situations.

The physical portion of the class uses wrestling-style mats and impact bags so participants can practice the moves they learn in class.

These classes are organized and taught by DPS’ crime prevention division. Consisting of three officers, the division is primarily responsible for teaching the Marquette community about self defense

Although classes have traditionally been thought to be more geared toward females, Cooper said that’s never been the case. The class features techniques useful for both men and women.

“These classes are certainly set up for anyone to take,” said Associate Director of DPS Capt. Russell Shaw. “The more knowledge you have and the more confidence you have, the less likely you are to become a victim.”

The techniques taught in the class are the same ones Milwaukee police officers teach men and women all around the city.

“It’s not about power or strength,” Cooper said. “It’s about using what you have to your advantage. These are self-defense skills for life.”

Attendance at the classes can vary. Last month, DPS was forced to cancel one of the classes because no one signed up. However, Cooper said another class that took place earlier in the school year had more than 20 participants. According to Mascari, some classes have had maximum capacity in the past.

Cooper said groups wishing to participate in self-defense classes are not limited to attending one of the four regular sessions. Large groups, such as fraternities, sororities, student organizations or residence hall wings, can schedule private classes with the crime prevention division.

The next self-defense class will take place in the Alumni Memorial Union on Monday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. Anyone wishing to participate should call DPS at 288-6800.