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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Activities & Organizations

Students learn self defense techniques at new class

Health communications graduate student Sydney Sydnee Spruiell blocking a punch by instructor Jessica Wheeler. Students attend the self-defense class to help feel safer on campus when alone. 

Health communications graduate student Sydnee Spruiell blocking a punch by instructor Jessica Wheeler. Students attend the self-defense class to help them feel safer on campus when alone.  | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

A new self defense class started by a graduating senior who did not feel safe on campus is offered weekly to teach students simple techniques to defend themselves on campus,.

Cougar Combat-Do is held at Melcher Gymnasium next to CASA. It was started to make students feel safer on campus in the hopes of expanding into a more well-known program.

“I kept getting all these reports about robberies on campus,” said health communications graduate student Sydnee Spruiell, who attends Cougar Combat-Do weekly. “I figured it was time to be proactive about learning to defend myself.”

Cougar Combat-Do began in February and has since met weekly . The class is taught by long-time taekwondo practitioner Jessica Wheeler. During the hour-long class, students warm up, practice dodging attacks and learn simple combat moves, all while Wheeler speaks to students about how they must remain aware of their surroundings if they are to be safe anywhere.

Before Wheeler began learning taekwondo, she was mugged by three men when she was in her early twenties. She said that incident got into her mind the importance of knowing how to defend yourself.

“I want to help people understand how they can defend themselves,” Wheeler said, “to understand better how to use the simple parts of our bodies and think about safety.”

The class was started by education senior Ayodele Shofoluwe. He said he started the class partly for students to not feel unsafe when walking around campus at night by learning some self-defense techniques.

Shofoluwe said the location at Melcher Gymnasium is difficult to find. He hopes Cougar Combat-Do can be moved to another location so more students can find it easily. He said the class will continue in the summer with more weekly classes, with Wheeler having more availability.

Biology senior Jenny Chang comes to Cougar Combat-Do to be prepared in case she is in a dangerous situation, she said.  The most important lessons she’s learned from the class are to maintain eye contact and have a good stance in case of an attack.

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