The Self-Defense and Pepper Spray Training, held by the Women’s Resource Center, was a two-hour workshop aimed to practice and enhance individuals’ self-defense skills, so they can safer on and off campus. The training took place on Thursday, January 23, in SMSU Fourplex 218, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Lizett Estrada, the Student Assistant for the Women’s Resource Center, said she “wanted to provide a resource for those who felt like they do not know how to protect themselves.” Estrada is a second-year student Health Science major who led the event.
She explained that her inspiration for the event was because of her own inexperience with self-defense techniques. From a desire to feel better prepared in the event of any emergency, Estrada wanted to equip herself with the proper safeguard tactics: “So I took the self-defense class offered by CSUSB,” continued Estrada.
The class referred to by Estrada is KINE 120F, Somatic and Martial Arts Activities: Self-Defense. She explained that she found the class to be so helpful that she wanted to utilize and share the knowledge in a crash-course for those who do not have the opportunity to enroll in the course offered by the college.
Magdalena Diaz and Michelle Pereira-Henriquez hosted the event and introduced the audience to Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) Global – a program otherwise known as ESD Global. They presented the main concept of ESD Global as “a dichotomous tool for both protection and healing.”
Pereira-Henriquez explained the program as, “a method of self-defense which teaches practical skills while relating to the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social-cultural factors of coping with unwanted situations.” The goal of ESD Global is to make self-defense accessible to all individuals regardless of sex or gender.
Diaz and Pereira-Henriquez gave everyone in the room the opportunity to participate in some interpersonal defense techniques they can use when faced with any circumstance. They first had every student stand up in a big circle and practice saying the word “No.” Then, starting at one point in the circle, the chosen person to initiate the activity had to whisper the word “no,” while each person next in line gradually said the word louder and louder, until it went all the way around the circle ending in a shout.
This was an exercise meant for students to utilize the term, understand its power and practice using the term firmly when faced with a situation in which a strong tone may be a necessary factor towards one’s self-defense.
In another exercise, students were placed in groups of five or six and were given a strip of paper that had a scenario written on it. The students were then given three pieces of construction paper – colored red, yellow, and green. The groups were challenged with the task of determining where their scenario sat on the scale of demonstrating interpersonal violence; the green construction paper representing “safe zone,” the yellow being a “cautious area,” and the red being a “red flag” in terms of relationships.
All of these exercises demonstrated the importance of learning how to set boundaries and offered solutions for how to deal with certain interpersonal situations.
After the interpersonal violence training, the program leaders transitioned into physical self-defense training.
Diaz and Pereira-Henriquez started with a punching glove that they had on their hands and students had the opportunity to practice hitting the glove. The glove was meant to represent a perpetrator’s face, and the trainers instructed to students that in order to defend themselves, the best way to hit the glove was with an open-upward palm up to the nose, potentially breaking the bone and providing a chance to escape.
This technique was one of many shown during the event. Another technique demonstrated employed a torso-sized mat where students were shown how to properly position their body before kicking one’s knee onto someone’s groin or abdomen. The last tactic for self-defense was breaking free of a wrist hold.The students were instructed to ground themselves firmly with their knees bent, and to use all of their upper body strength to pull away and break the hold.
As a follow up to the ESD Global presentation, the CSUSB Police Department joined the event to offer pepper spray training. The training involved a briefing on the laws involved in the ownage and use of pepper spray – its physical effects on the human body, scenarios in which it is (and is not) appropriate for use, and what to do in the event that a certain individual becomes exposed to the chemical compound.
CSUSB’s Police Department officers, Joanna Barber-Matthews and John Taitano, explained how they had both been maced in the police training academy and shared their traumatic stories of the exposure and its unpleasantries. After presenting all of the necessary information and covering the precautions, the officers handed out a complimentary canister to each attendee.
Now remember, you can’t just go and spray your boyfriend or girlfriend because they made you mad. This stuff is serious,” reminded Officer Taitano.
The misuse of a canister of pepper spray in the instance of non-self-defense can result in a misdemeanor charge, with up to $1,000 in fines, a jail sentence, or both.
Student attendees, fourth year students Sergio Inzunza and Natalia Perez, came to the event together to support each other while learning the techniques and benefits of self-defense. When asked about her thoughts on the program, Perez, who mentioned her prior experience with taking self-defense courses, said, “It’s different, but in a good way.” Both students notably mentioned they enjoyed the event and thought it provided information that was useful.
At the end of the training program, the following resources were provided:
- For emergency: 911
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.7233
- CSUSB Survivor Advocacy Services – Alaina.Joey@csusb.edu Main Phone: 909.273.7872, in HC-164.
- For evening and weekend assistance: San Bernardino Hotline Assault Services – a 24-hour hotline at 909.885.8884
- ESD Global: www.esdglobalselfdefense.org