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Notre Dame students learn self defense

By Joshua Staloch

GREEN BAY – Life is full of unexpected and unpredictable situations.

One never knows what might be around the corner, and sometimes, it pays to be prepared for the worst.

Notre Dame Academy hosted a self-defense seminar for high school seniors Friday, Feb. 21.

The event, which was offered on a voluntary basis, was presented by Master Penny Duggan of Kim’s Tae Kwon Do Center, along with a variety of helpers, including military personnel.

It featured two hours of real-world coaching on how to handle encounters most think will never happen.

Notre Dame Academy Principal Patrick Browne told the students who attended they need to be ready to handle situations they can’t fathom at this point in their lives.

“We know that 11 percent of all students who go to college, male and female, experience assault at some point during that time,” Brown said. “We do a lot to get them ready for college as far as budgeting, scholarships and how to get things situated for dorm life. But we realized we needed to do more to help them stay safe once they leave here.”

That’s when NDA College Counselor Becky Bain decided to reach out to Kim’s Tae Kwon Do, a martial arts academy in Green Bay for 46 years.

Bain knew Kim’s had done seminars on safety and self defense at local colleges and wanted to bring Duggan and her direct, pragmatic approach to self defense to NDA’s soon-to-be-departed seniors.

“It’s huge, very important for them to be aware of some of these things,” Bain said when asked about the program’s success two years in. “It’s so important for them to be aware of their surroundings. Some of our students, Green Bay is all they’ve ever known and they’re going to be going off to much larger cities. If they’re not taught any of this, if something were to happen, they’re probably going to freeze up and become a victim.”

Duggan said carrying oneself in a confident manner is a great start toward keeping safe.

If ever actually approached by someone with bad intent, a loud “Get away from me.” will turn a bad guy away 95 percent of the time, she said.

Duggan said the remaining 5 percent of those incidents can end in life-altering unpleasantness and, if it comes down to it, young people need to know they have the green light to defend themselves with simple-to-use tactics up to and including caving in an assailant’s knee from the side.

“Everyone needs to be able to defend themselves,” she said. “The statistics are scary. If two out of five women get assaulted in college, it makes sense to teach as many people as possible how to defend themselves in the event of an attack.”

The NDA seniors in attendance weren’t working on black-belt level moves, but they were getting a sense of what they could do and how to best react in a situation where they need to defend themselves.

Working in small groups with the volunteers, they got to put their elbows into the chests of would-be attackers played by Duggan’s assistants.

They got to throw defensive kicks into practice pads and they worked on how to put a forearm into the nose of someone who might try to make a statistic out of them.

However, staying out of these kinds of predicaments altogether is ultimately the goal.

Duggan said if someone is able to safely get away from an attacker, do so immediately, even if skills allow the victim to gain the upper hand.

“It’s good to know what to do if something goes wrong,” said NDA senior Courtney Remes. “You always hear stories about bad things happening to people on college campuses. It can be dangerous and for a lot of us, it will be a whole different world. But I do think that I’ll be able to keep some of the things we’re learning here today in mind if anything were to ever happen. I might not be able to remember any specific technique we’re working on but things like, go for the knees and kick at the midsection are in my head now.”

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