After lone-wolfing it my first semester of college and frequently wandering by myself, I decided to take a self-defense class. My brother told me I had the weakest punch of anyone he’d ever met in his life, and while I disagreed with this wholeheartedly, I figured some technical instruction couldn’t hurt.
For the next eight Thursdays, I walked to the student center and listened closely as a female police officer recall the multiple times she had been attacked while on the job. She was what one would describe as “hardened by life” and gave the class invaluable pieces of advice, such as if a man is attacking us, grab his “sensitive area,” twist and pull.
Just imagine taking a cork out of a wine bottle. Similar hand motions.
Despite these somewhat frightening pearls of wisdom, the class was very empowering. On the final night, we put our skills to the test and had to fight off a 300-pound male police officer during various simulation attacks. He was wearing padding, but we learned that he still had to take off of work the next day in order to ice-down various parts of his body.
Apparently knee guards and sports cups were no match for 12 college girls who were dealing with idiot freshman boys for the first time and had the rage of 1995 Alanis Morissette coursing through their veins.
Afterward, I called my mom and told her I wanted to take a class on defending myself against someone with a weapon. Ironically, didn’t want me walking to the class alone and said no.
Still, I felt far more confident after those eight weeks of training. The class certainly improved my physical prowess, but more importantly, it gave me invaluable mental wherewithal. And as Cheryl Arnold learned, you never know when that will be put to the test.
The 72-year-old apartment office manager was working alone in late December when a gunman walked into Village Vista Apartments, a 99-unit community in a Cincinnati suburb. Wearing a red bandana over his face, the man walked over to Arnold, held the gun to her head and demanded money.
Arnold says she repeatedly told him she didn’t have any money in the office but he wasn’t satisfied. Fortunately Arnold had a plan.
“Two months prior a salesman who supplies our fire extinguishers asked me if I owned a gun,” Arnold says. “I told him I don’t like guns and he gave me a fire extinguisher without the clip in it to put by my desk. He said I could use it as an alternative weapon if I ever needed to.”
So when the intruder’s body turned for moment, Arnold calmly reached under her desk and sprayed him with the extinguisher. The gunman, shocked and covered in extinguisher fluid, ran out of the office.
Had this not worked, I’m confident Arnold would have employed the old “twist and pull.”
For more, check out “Under Fire” in the February issue of units Magazine, which mails Feb. 8.