Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Self defense class makes its way to Dearmont Hall

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Self defense instructor Doug Johnson helps RAs Katy Armstrong and Alaina Mikkelsen perfect a technique they were just taught.
Photo by Kennedy Meyer

A handful of women residents came together to participate in Dearmont’s self defense program on the evening of Feb. 26.

The instructor was Doug Johnson, who has been a martial arts expert for over 25 years, who has been requested to teach classes for Southeast since 1989, teaching three to five classes per semester.

The class taught the women, including Dearmont Hall Director Logann Driskell, a range of techniques to help them escape dangerous situations.

“I put together a program with techniques based on how to escape,” Johnson said. “Primarily on how to get away, how to surprise the attacker. The number one thing I always teach in my women’s self defense classes is to get away. That’s your number one thing.”

Johnson taught the students how to use their bodies to disarm an attacker of any weapons they might have as well as how to use force to stop an attack. Some of Johnson’s methods included using an elbow to knock the breath out of a perpetrator while other methods used the legs to apply force in the event of an attack. Some tips he gave to the women were to always bring the shopping cart to the car, even if it is not needed. One can use it to defend themselves in the event of an attack.

Southeast Senior and Dearmont resident assistant Rutvi Zalawadia helped plan the program. Her and a few other RAs got the idea to have a self defense class after they heard about it in their training.

“Safety is always important, you never know what could happen,” Zalawadia said.

Southeast Freshman Mollie Emerick said she is always armed with pepper spray if she has to walk across campus at night. Johnson said pepper spray can be useful in the event of an attack, but he did not advise anyone to hook it on with their car keys.

“If you carry mace, don’t keep it on your keys, because if you spray them and they knock it out of your hand, your one method of escape is gone,” Johnson said.

In the midst of the program Driskell reminded her residents of the blue emergency poles that are located sporadically on campus and of the red emergency phones located in the Dearmont hallways.

Freshman Noelle Hill’s roommate last semester was “having issues with a sexual predator.” That was the driving force behind Hill wanting to attend the self-defense class.

“I didn’t really know anything about self defense other than my pepper spray, so I was hoping to learn some basic techniques that would be pretty easy to use,” Hill said.

When it comes to walking across campus at night, Emerick said she feels safe for the most part, but she will not break eye contact with the blue emergency poles in case something were to happen she would hate to not know where to run.

“[The class] makes me feel a lot more prepared, if anything were to happen, I feel like it probably wouldn’t happen to me, but if it did I feel like I have the range of skills now,” Emerick said. “It’s just all about having the upper hand with people.”