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Impact Martial Arts hosts self-defense class

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Martial Arts instructor Karen Mitchell of Impact Martial Arts showed women ways to stay safe and defend themselves during a class at Chilton County YMCA on Feb. 3.

Mitchell had been kidnapped from her home in her 20s. She was able to escape when the kidnapper made her drive to a bank to withdraw money. The experience made her determined to be able to defend herself in the future.

“I got into martial arts,” Mitchell said. “I was determined to teach people how to stay safe and not be a victim.”

She said it is important to realize that anyone could become a victim.

Predators are opportunists and common sense is a powerful defensive tool, Mitchell said.

She emphasized the importance of locking an exterior door after going through it. She said this could have prevented her kidnapping from happening.

“Don’t open your door to stranger … Talk through your door … Don’t be tricked into opening your door. Never let anyone know you are home alone,” Mitchell said.

She also said to let someone know where you are going and an estimated time of return.

“This is very, very important because they will be able to check on you,” Mitchell said.

When running errands, paying attention to surroundings and looking for people who look like they are “out of place” makes someone less likely to be a victim.

She gave the example of someone standing in the shadows at a grocery store.

“You know this person is not shopping for groceries,” Mitchell said.

She said it was important to “trust your instincts” and report suspicious behavior to someone in authority.

For nighttime activities, Mitchell recommends going with a group of friends.

Always knowing where an exit is and who is around that might help in an emergency is also important.

“Don’t fall for tricks that will make you drop your guard,” Mitchell said, such as a person pretending to be someone you know but have not seen in a long time.

“When someone comes up to you, analyze them, ‘Is this person meaning me harm?'” Mitchell said.

If someone appears hostile or tries to start something, Mitchell said to give them a cold look and angle sideways to a strategic position and yell for them to stop and do not come closer.

She said this alerts those near her that she may be in trouble.

If a predator is trying to grab someone, the person should aim for hitting the person in the eye or nose, “because that is going to keep them from being able to see you,” Mitchell said. “If you could poke them in the eye or scratch it, that is going to stop them.”

Mitchell said a potential victim only has a few seconds to act.

Elbow or knee jabs to sensitive areas can also be effective.

Mitchell said a potential victim will likely have to do more than one thing to get a predator off, otherwise the person will just get mad.