Fourth-year martial arts student teaches 'bread and butter' self defense techniques

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A small group filed into the fitness center, wearing comfortable shoes and carrying jackets, cell phones, and pens, all of which make handy weapons if attacked in a dark parking lot.

“Come learn self defense techniques at the Fitness Center at 6 p.m. on April 13,” emails sent out to the students said. “Please bring purses, jackets, and anything you would carry while walking around down town.”

Fourth-year Mark Wilco teaches has taught a bi-annual self defense class for two years, typically before long breaks. As a first degree black belt, he combines his knowledge of martial arts and other defense tactics to teach techniques that are simple to do and easy to remember.

“One of the keys of self defense is the ability to draw upon these techniques at a moments notice, with no time between danger and defense,” Wilco said. “This is why I stress what we like to refer to as ‘Bread and Butter’; techniques that you practice and they come naturally to you.”

The all-female class learned to use everyday items to defend themselves, using jackets to block opponent’s vision, and pens to drive into pressure points.

“If you know how to use your surroundings to your advantage, you will never be without defensive power,” Wilco said. He also feels that the best way to handle a difficult situation is to avoid them altogether. “Don’t go walking alone in dangerous neighborhoods. If you must walk at night, keep a streetlight on your back, watch the shadows with your peripheral vision, and listen intently.”

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