September 8th, 2009 – by Emily Benner
My first classroom experience at WCSC was far from the “normal” first day routine. As I sat in a circle with my classmates, pondering what I was about to learn, a short, sweet lady walked in and introduced the lesson for the day: self defense. Little did I know the lessons I was about to learn were like nothing I’d ever learned before and this “short, sweet” lady would be one of the strongest women I have met.
Marty Langelan began the class with discussing the first step to self-defense: getting to know your community. This small and often overlooked step is one of the most crucial. “Do you wanna know who will have your back in a tough situation? Joe from down the street and Mrs. Maguillicutty from next door, that’s who. Make friends with your community, they’re your first line of defense, “ Langelan stresses.
The second step is observing your surroundings. Langelan encouraged us to always have a ten-foot circle of awareness around us. “You should be able to name three things about every person that walks by you,” Langelan explains. “Give it about a week and you’ll feel a big weight lifted off your shoulders because your awareness will be much greater. “
The topic of sexual harassment proved to be one of the most serious but also one of the most entertaining. “When you’re walkin’ down the street and you hear those guys on the corner yellin’ ‘Ooo hey baby, mmm come and get some,’ here’s what you need to say: Stop harassing women, I don’t like it, no one likes it. Show some respect.” These simple but powerful words have been proven to work time and again by Marty and her self-defense team.
And if simple words don’t stop an attacker, Marty’s self defense moves will. The five-foot, several inches tall Langelan has been able to throw a 400-pound man twelve feet. Yes twelve feet. But Marty doesn’t believe in any more violence than necessary. “Do what you need to do to get away. You don’t need to pommel the attacker into the ground.”
This brings me to Marty’s second phrase of powerful words. “I don’t know why we are told to yell ‘Help!’ when we are in danger. Help is one of the weakest words in the English dictionary,” Marty exclaims. Instead she encouraged us to use these simple words: Kiya! It’s an attack! Call the cops! Why this particular phrase? The strong consonants allow your plea for help to be heard more clearly.
Marty’s knowledge and expertise on self-dense are endless: what I have touched on are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only did we learn practical defense tips for everyday life, but we were also blessed with knowledge from one of the most inspiring and influential women in self-defense training today.