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Self-defense class teaches students how to protect from threats

By Joshua Johnson
On November 28, 2022

Self-defense is important and can take on many forms: a punch, a kick, or even just a word. All these things were taught earlier this month at a “Take Action” self-defense class held inside the fitness center.

Tanya Panizzo taught the lesson. She is the creator of Fighting Spirit Personal Safety, a self-defense training program founded in 2006 that helps children, women and men defend themselves.

The university reached out to her, and Panizzo was more than happy to come to Detroit Mercy.

“I wanted to bring the programming here,” she said. “I do this type of programming all over the place, so I thought it would be a good fit to help people stay safe on campus.”

Panizzo began by teaching the class verbal techniques. When a person is approaching you when you do not want them to, you must communicate loudly and clearly, she said.

The class took turns practicing this by dividing into pairs of two acting out what to do when being approached.

“No!”
“Stay back!”
“I said stay back!” could be heard throughout
the room.

Next was physical techniques. The first set of techniques involved ways of attacking with your arms. An overhead strike to head, as if you were hitting an object with a hammer. Hit with your elbows from the front and the back, Panizzo explained.

The last technique was the most uncomfortable for the group, the idea of having to gouge out someone’s eyes.

Next there were the kicking techniques. The class was taught how to kick in the groin.

They were also taught how to kick or knee at someone’s gut.

The last kicking technique was one where the class had to be on the ground. Panizzo said, in the event where the other techniques would fail them, or somehow, they ended up on their backside, they should kick the attacker away and, if possible, get up and run.

Panizzo left the class with the message of practicing situational awareness.

“Think a few steps ahead of any situation that you’re in when you’re out and about...so that you could plan an exit or get help,” she said. “Live in a state of awareness instead of fear.”

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