Today I came across my article on self defense from 2004. I wrote it for the local newspaper during my summer internship. This was around the time I was beginning to regain my confidence after my abusive relationship in High School. 

Saturday, June 26, 2004

by: Jennifer Vaaler

Special to the News Topic

Defend Yourself, Women Fight Back

Every woman can defend herself. Every woman knows some self-defense. Taking a class provides more tools and a chance to practice them, instructors say.

Self-defense programs offer a range of self-defense options from which to choose, according to the website. Each woman has the right to choose what is best for each situation.

Captain Sharon Poarch, of the Lenoir Police Department, thinks that women should take self-defense. “In a time of fitness anyway, it’s a great workout and there is a level of physical confidence of being able to handle yourself if confronted, so I strongly advise it” Poarch says.

She feels that it’s the parents’ decision to choose how young their daughter should be to start taking a self-defense class. It depends on the maturity level.

“Self-defense in general or a martial art specifically, in the last five to 10 years, has become more socially acceptable for women. I recommend that women be physically fit and be aware of self-defense classes and take them.”

“If, for example, someone tries to take your purse,” Poarch advises, “let them take it. It’s not worth it to be in a physical encounter. It’s better to give [your purse] up.”

Self-defense is a form of protection. In order to use it effectively a person must be in physical contact with the attacker. The effectiveness of the techniques are based on momentum, height, weight physical build of the attacker and the circumstances of the attack.

Self-defense is a series of realistic proven hands-on techniques that work, according to the Web site. They are techniques based upon the science of automatic reflex reactions that are designed to produce maximum efficiency with minimum force. Many of these techniques are used by the police and military.

Self-defense includes physical and non- physical resistance. They are techniques that help build self confidence, are easy to learn and effective, it is not a martial arts class. All moves are designed to be used by people regardless of age, sex and most physical disabilities.

Head Instructor Arthur Ferguson, of the 21st Century Karate Studio, in Lenoir says Karate is one of the most dynamic of all the martial arts. It tones the body, develops coordination, quickens reflexes, and builds stamina. Children learn self-defense, which teaches them to think instead of panic in potentially serious situations. It involves all children whether they are athletic, energetic, shy, bold or passive.

“A lot of grappling-ground fighting is taught, because most fights end up on the ground.”

Standup fighting, kicks and sparring are also taught.

Ferguson’s classes are made up of about 60 percent of women and girls, he teaches.

“Here, the girls fight a lot harder than most of the boys because all their lives they have been taught you can’t hit, you can’t fight, you’re weaker. They come in here and discover that they can.

“In self-defense, the theory is not to beat up your opponent; it’s to survive. You just want to fight enough to get away. Most people don’t realize that you don’t have to beat me up, you just have to stop me from winning.”

For more information about this class call Ferguson at 758-9827.

Blake Murphy of Maiden is the instructor for the Bujinkan Tenshin Shibu School who teaches a martial art called Ninjutshu (also known as Budo Aijutshu). This art is over 900 years old.

You are taught to defend yourself in every possible situation you could find yourself in. Murphy explains why this martial art is different from other martial arts. “We are a combat martial art. We still retain our true martial capability. We don’t teach sport or personal refinement, we teach life and death encounters; there is no completion, there is no ego, this is a martial art for families for protection.”

“Martial means war art. In sport martial arts you use muscle. In this martial art you learn to use your body and your mind, so you don’t have to rely on things. If I rely on muscle, anybody stronger than me is going to beat me, so, if I don’t use my muscle, but I use my body, no matter how old or how young, feeble, or weak a person or opponent may be, you can still take care of and defend yourself.”

Murphy explains why he thinks more women won’t take self-defense. “Women think that the mentality in this area is that the martial arts are an egotistical maniac ‘trip’, ‘It’s a man thing, it’s manly’, but it’s not. Women need this but they won’t go get it because of the simple fact of how the martial arts, if you would, is portrayed as a game, a sport, it’s given a bad name. We’re here to teach a martial art, an effective system of self-defense.”

April McCaslin of Denver, N.C., started her daughter in this self-defense class because she feels her 9-year-old daughter, Hannah McCaslin, should be able to defend herself in case there was ever an attack. “You just can’t be too safe in this day in age.”

“The younger she is, the better she learns, then she’ll know more when she’s older,” says McCaslin about her daughter starting so young.

“I want to learn how to be safe from a stranger,” says Hannah, about why she takes the class. She thinks other girls her age should take this class so they can learn to defend themselves too.

For more information about this class call 308-2921 or go to

There are other martial art classes available in the county but are not strictly considered self-defense.” They are Kung-Fu, Tai Chi, and Yoga. A self-defense class taught at Hibriten every semester, the past two semesters. It’s a 14-15 week program taught during the aerobics class time there, and at the other high schools if requested. The free community service teaches self-defense at any other organization or business.

For more information, contact 754-8621 or

Defend Yourself, Women Fight Back

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