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Mace & Crown | March 20, 2018

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Students attend women's self-defense workshop

Darryan Miller | Contributing Writer

The Norfolk Karate Academy & Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Center held a women’s self-defense workshop, sponsored by the ODU Women’s Center on Oct. 21. An estimated 50 women attended the two-hour course, where they each partnered up to learn and practice proper self-defense techniques. The focus of the workshop was to teach the correct stance and technique of defense, for when being grabbed, choked, pulled or attacked from behind.

With sexual assault awareness becoming more prevalent in the media, the importance of knowing how to defend yourself stands as true as ever.

“This program is the single most important course to take but the least attended,” said Bill Odom, owner of the academy, as he opened the workshop. With all of the horror stories being covered on the news, it is alarming that a woman wouldn’t want to take a self-defense class.

The academy, known for its Jiu-Jitsu-style training, started doing the self-defense workshop after being inspired by The Gracie Academy in California which created a specialized program focusing on sexual assault. Operations manager and children’s karate instructor, Aubrey Odom, wants people to know that “It doesn’t matter the size, or if you’re super athletic or can’t run a mile, what matters is that these techniques work because they are leverage based and they are designed for the smaller person to escape being attacked by a bigger person.”

The instructors demonstrated the different moves and techniques on each other focusing on two specific techniques, a standing technique and a ground technique. After watching the demonstrations everyone practiced the techniques with their partners. The course worked through about 12 different scenarios and moves for how to get yourself out of an emergency.

Seminar attendees, Angie Ellorin and Ria Gozon expressed how they personally benefitted from taking the workshop. Ellorin learned that she is stronger than she thought after taking this seminar. “I was excited to take the course because it is free and recently with the ‘#metoo’ event on social media, it brings attention to assault,” Ellorin explained. She went on to say that she “felt incredibly strong taking this class,” adding that “it’s important because women need to know how strong they are.

“There’s a really big need for women to recognize self-defense,” said Gozon. “I don’t think self-defense is a conversation that many women have.” Gozon explained that she personally benefitted a great deal from seeing that she could save herself and be her own hero.

Gorzon opened up about how this event connects with her in a more personal way, “I think I benefitted by seeing that I could save myself. I was sexually assaulted my freshman year of college, and what I want to say to people who have been victimized or assaulted before, is that it’s never too late to know what to do in the future in terms of education, focusing on your mental and physical health, and knowing that the resources are out there so that you can be a beacon for other people and for yourself. After taking this course, I feel strong, and motivated to tell people that there is something that they can do.”

The Women Empowered Program director, Jen Taylor, has been working with ODU to bring awareness to women’s self-defense classes for the last six years. “I started doing this because of family history, my mother was abused and I decided that I was going to help as many people as I could so that nobody else was put in that situation,” said Taylor. “It’s important that [women] learn to protect themselves, empower themselves and realize that they are worth defending, and that they are a value to themselves and other people.”

The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Norfolk Karate Academy offers the Women Empowered Self Defense program for $60 per month as a 12-lesson program every Tuesday from 7:30-8:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 11-12 p.m. Along with many other takeaways, the course teaches that you are worth defending.