What’s better than the moment an assailant realizes you took a self-defense class from heavyweight champion Lou Savarese and three-black-belt martial artist DeMarkus Jones? Nothing is better. In a city where one in 19 people are likely to be involved in either a violent or property crime, this valuable know-how is essential.
Beginning September 8, every Sunday at 2 p.m. state-of-the-art boxing gym Savarese Fight Fit will be offering a Self Defense series tailored to women ages 17 and older, teenagers 12-16, and mothers and daughters ages nine and up. Each class will last an hour and a half and will build upon the one before it. While both Savarese and Jones stress that repetition is key, Jones says after one class students will walk away feeling more prepared.
Jordan Seff, co-owner of Savarese Fight Fit West University, has taken self-defense classes before and is confident this program will be more useful than others. “As a woman, some of the classes I’ve taken felt too choreographed. This program seems more like a reflex as opposed to a six-step combination that might not be relevant in the moment.”
Being vocal, getting free, and getting away are what Savarese and Jones will emphasize as well as preventative strategies. “Some women may be much smaller than their assailant,” says Savarese, “We want them familiar with what might happen so it won’t be so shocking.”
The technique that Savarese and Jones will demonstrate will incorporate the styles of both upper-body focused boxing and lower-body centered martial arts. Jones says a lot of the principles are similar in terms of movement, “We are going to give everyone the best of both worlds.”
Ten percent of every $49 class fee will be donated to Crime Stoppers of Houston, the non-profit organization that since 1980 has been responsible for 30,000 felony cases solved, 27,000 fugitive suspects taken into custody, and removing almost 300 weapons from Houston schools before they could be used.
Within the United States, the Houston division of Crime Stoppers leads other cities in most cases solved. CEO Rania Mankarious says that in the past six years they have placed more emphasis on preventative programs. She says a big part of their operation is educating students in kindergarten through high school on subjects including cyber safety, cyber stalking and drugs.
Mankarious also says their tip line, 713-222-8477 (TIPS), is busiest every day from 4-9 p.m. and that they’ll receive about 2,500 calls a month. “Houston is a thriving city and we are so thankful to live here but crime is an issue and every person no matter what neighborhood or what school you send your kids too could be affected.”
Meredith Campbell, Houston SWAT Team member, was also present during the Self Defense series preview and listed these four ways to increase personal safety:
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1. Reduce or eliminate opportunities that may make you a target: He says early morning and night, particularly when it’s dark, are prime times and to be extra aware when going to the bank or wearing flashy jewelry.
2. Increase awareness in places (be hyper vigilant): He says cell phones are extremely distracting and if you need to check them, do so with your back against a wall.
3. Trust your instincts.
4. Prepare your schedule with safety in mind.