Living in a small town such as Macon can often lead us to have a false sense of security. We can become complacent at the office, gym, or school. We believe that the violence we read about will never impact us or those we care about. The brutal truth is, that is often not the case.
According to Master Mark Meighan, head instructor for Macon Martial Arts in downtown Macon, one in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This number may be even higher due to a lack of reporting of assaults. So, what is a person supposed to do to defend themselves? That was the purpose of a two-hour women's self-defense class taught Friday night by Mark and his wife, Master Natalie Meighan. Together, they have more than 40 years of experience in martial arts and self-defense.
About 20 women and girls attended the class, all with various reasons for attending.
"It's something new and sounded interesting," said Elizabeth Wibberg, 11. "It's always okay to be ready, you never know what may happen in a small town like Macon." And Randa Holden, 13, said, "It's always better to be prepared and know what to do."
Mark explained how most situations are from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Situations also arise from not paying enough attention to the people and things going on around us.
For instance, how often are we distracted in the parking lot at Walmart or the grocery store? We come out of the store thinking about the next errand to run not the current task at hand.
According to Natalie, we need to get our purchases in our vehicle as quickly as possible, always staying alert to those around us, and locking the door as soon as we are in the car.
Mark said one big mistake people make is to click on their car fob twice, unlocking all the doors of the vehicle. This is unnecessary and not as safe if you are alone. Only unlock your driver's door so no one can open the passenger door and jump in on you unexpectedly. Another suggestion is to put all your purchases away in the trunk before unlocking your door. One of the worst scenarios is to be trapped inside a vehicle with someone intending to harm you because there isn't as much room to use your arms and legs to fight back.
One thing people may misunderstand is that self-defense is about getting out and away from the situation safely. You don't have to keep fighting or beating someone up. As soon as you can, it's better to safely get away.
"In a situation where you need to protect yourself, you don't have to be nice," said Natalie. "There is no wrong way to defend yourself."
Page 2 of 2 - "When a person attacks you, they don't always expect you to fight back so soon." Mark said. " But, once you start fighting back, you cannot quit."
Once you make the decision to fight, you must see it through. Sometimes just realizing you are going to fight may make the attacker leave. This is not always the case, and you need to be prepared to fight as long as it takes for you to escape.
After explaining different aspects of self-defense, Mark and Natalie, along with the assistance of Mark's pupils Clayton and Austin Smith, led the class through different kicks and punches. They went over different scenarios such as having your arms pinned, being attacked from behind or having someone sitting on you and some defense strategies for getting out of those situations.
Then, Mark put on padded gear and let volunteers try to get past him from one side of the room to the other. The volunteers were able to practice kicking, hitting, and anything else they needed to do in order to escape from him.
The class ended with volunteers being able to use their elbow to break a board.
So, the main things regarding self-defense are to always be alert and prepared. A two hour self-defense class can help, but it's not all you need for self-defense. You should always keep practicing and keep preparing. You need to live in a state between super vigilance (to the point of being paranoid) and completely unaware of your surroundings.