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Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Cougars learn to protect themselves

In any given moment, anyone can be compromised. Robbery, assault, rape or abduction are possibilities no one wants to worry about, but they still happen every day.

We are aware of these dangers, but not everyone knows how to react in these situations. Some try to avoid danger, either by running or submitting, while others want to fight back but don’t know how to defend themselves.

Mechanical engineering and mathemetics junior Bryan Lopez, left, spars with self-defense instructor Threz Gonzalez, center, while chemistry graduate Bicole Flores, right, looks on. Classes like this and the Cougar Aikido Club teach students defense and awareness | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

Mechanical engineering and mathemetics junior Bryan Lopez (left) spars with self-defense instructor R. Threz Gonzalez (center) while chemistry graduate Nicole Flores looks on. Classes like this and the Cougar Aikido Club teach students defense and awareness | Aisha Bouderdaben/The Daily Cougar

There is no need to feel helpless, though. There are classes that can teach you how to defend yourself.

UH offers two self-defense courses that are free to all students. Both classes are held in the Combat Room at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. These classes teach students how to defend themselves against possible attackers and how to remove themselves from a situation before it worsens.

Fitness instructor R. Threz Gonzalez teaches Intro to Self-Defense, instructing students in the use of martial arts techniques like Taijutsu. In class, Gonzalez teaches students where to move if being attacked and how to use body force and momentum to take down an opponent; however, Gonzalez says there are times when opponents cannot be taken down, especially if the assailant is using a weapon.

“Gunpoint changes everything,” Gonzalez said. “Don’t run. Don’t try to do anything. If the robber wants your purse, let them take your purse. Look down at the ground and say, ‘I’m not looking at you. I can’t see who you are. Just take what you need.'”

According to the FBI, firearms were used in 41.3 percent of robberies, strong-arm tactics were used 42.3 percent, 7.8 percent involved knives and 8.7 percent involved other weapons in 2011.

The odds are that there will be a weapon involved during a robbery. If succumbing to the gun-wielding assailant doesn’t work, Gonzalez also teaches gun disarming at a school in Houston called Warau Tora Dojo, which translates to “School of Smiling Tiger.” At the school, Gonzalez teaches the art of self-defense and martial arts.

“This particular art is about you getting home to your family, and I teach it that exact way,” Gonzalez said.

This is something that everyone — no matter age or gender — should take a few classes in, even if you feel you don’t need it. Learning the basics could go a long way to getting out of a bad situation. Chemistry graduate Nicole Flores is one of Gonzalez’s students who attend the class here and at the dojo.

“It’s an amazing thing to learn because it’s the least amount of energy that you can use to get out of a situation, while with other martial arts, like karate, you have to put in so much more effort to do it,” Flores said.

The other self-defense course that is offered on campus is the Cougar Aikido Club. In this class, students learn a similar method of self-defense — the difference is that students learn to react in a more harmonious way. While Gonzalez teaches you how to disarm your attacker to keep them from attacking again, Cougar Aikido Club instructors make sure students are aware of the consequences of these actions.

“We are always free to collaborations with other organizations and those who support self-defense and awareness against attacks,” said Sergey Petrov, president of the Cougar Aikido Club.

Above all, both classes agree that the best thing to do to help prevent these situations is to be aware. Always be aware of surroundings. If you are walking to your car — at any time of the day — pay attention to what is happening around you. Try not to dig into your purse or backpack for your keys, and try to not text. These acts can draw your attention away from what situations may be about to unfold in front of you.

Gonzalez suggests that his students should carry a simple pen when making these walks to your car as a means for self-defense.

“A pen is the most effective weapon you can have on you,” Gonzalez said. “At least once a month, I have a pen class so that girls are reminded to have a pen in their hand when they walk. The pen offers what the fist can’t normally do and gives penetration that you normally wouldn’t have.”

Intro to Self-Defense is from 6:15-7:15 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and the Cougar Aikido Club holds sessions from 7-9 p.m.Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kelly Schafler is a print journalism sophomore and Aaron Manuel is a print journalism senior. They may be reached at [email protected].

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