Courtesy of BRAVO
The key to teaching self-defense, a skill that many might deem necessary, especially among the LGBT community, starts with gut feelings.
“The goal of self-defense is not to beat the crap out of your attacker,” said Chris Cozad, the instructor for the self-defense class. “The goal of self-defense is to create an opening in the action so that you can escape and get to safety. Depending on the situation … that may or may not require a range of physical techniques.”
Self-defense classes are at the Women’s Field House at Ohio State during Spring Quarter and are in collaboration with the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization. The course has been offered Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. through May 14.
These services are free and geared toward members of the LGBT community, but anyone is welcome, including non-students from the community.
BRAVO has served the LGBT community since 1996 and they work to eliminate intimate partner violence or domestic violence, hate crimes and homophobia. They also offer victim services for those who have been targeted.
Gloria McCauley, the executive director of BRAVO and a former instructor of the class, said these classes have been taught since 1989 and she has been working with OSU since, but not always directly with them. She said there have been issues with getting people to come to these classes.
“It’s a little difficult with a university or college to get the word out,” McCauley said. “OSU is like a city in itself, and getting the word out can be problematic. People who are students, faculty, staff, etc. forget that there is a world outside the confines of OSU.”
She stressed that there are other places to go besides places on campus to get help and BRAVO is an example.
Overall, McCauley said they would get five to 15 students coming to the course, and not much has changed over the years as attendance is still low.
The lack of students, however, has not affected the general flow of the class. McCauley said it makes it easier for everyone to get their question answered and allows for more time to learn new tactics.
Amber Ault, an OSU doctoral student in the early ’90s, wrote her dissertation about the need for self-defense classes for LGBT. McCauley worked with Ault for two years on a syllabus that has been adapted and is the basis of the curriculum for these classes.
Crystal Obiukwu, a third-year in social work, said she wanted to attend classes because she knows people who have been targeted.
“I know so many friends both in high school and in college who have had really bad things happen to them,” Obiukwu said. “If they knew self-defense, then they might have been able to help themselves get out of the situation.”
Obiukwu said she has learned specific things like how to get out of chokeholds and what to do if an attacker is on top of one’s body.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, of which BRAVO is a part, is implemented in 30 states. The states without these programs must rely only on law enforcement to report hate crimes.
Cozad, who is also a BRAVO board member, said the threat of hate crimes is strong and action needs to be taken.
“One in three lesbian women will experience violence in her lifetime,” Cozad said. “A full range of violence, but this self-defense covers harassment, neighborhood violence, sexual assaults, stalking, domestic violence and hate crimes. One in two gay men and over 90 percent of transgendered people will experience some kind of violence on that continuum in their lifetime.”
McCauley and Conzad agreed self-defense is education and prevention. The classes cover body language, awareness, intuition, verbal and physical.
Cozad said that at these sessions, they do physical tactics every week, but build on other techniques to get a well-rounded balance of self-defense knowledge.
McCauley said the classes start by teaching common sense and intuition, because she said sometimes the things that make the most sense get disregarded.
“Many of us have been taught through the years to ignore our gut reactions,” McCauley said. “But if your gut is saying something, there is something wrong. That’s what we aim to teach folks to reintroduce them to their gut feelings.”
Another principles is teaching these students about the vulnerable points on the body, or where people should direct their attention when attacked, like the eyes, nose, and throat.
BRAVO also teaches people about LGBT’s problems and history.
“I think history of any community is important, because you get a sense of why somebody might react in a certain way,” McCauley said.