February 2008

In Case you were Wondering, but were Too Afraid to Ask: Self Defense

Author: Lindsey Hawkins

She was stabbed repeatedly in a mall parking lot where she worked in Birmingham, Alabama. She was left alone to die at the age of 26, and she did. When they found her, she could not be immediately identified because her Dooney and Burke purse had been stolen.

I hear about it every day—kids killing each other for the latest Nike shoe and adults being held at gunpoint for what might be in their wallet. I think it’s not going to happen to me, but the more I hear about it, the less confident I am. I’ve reached a point where I look over my shoulder as I scamper to take the trash out in the evening. I’m sure I look like a moron with my quick shuffle and my head on a pivot, but I get scared.

I guess it never really hits home until it happens to you or someone close to you. And it did. Close friends of mine were jumped for nothing other than the thrill of being tough. It’s called self defense my fellow islanders. It takes practice but it’s not hard and could save your life, not to mention your wallet.

In case you were wondering…

When I think of self defense, I think about the movie Enough, starring Jennifer Lopez. I think it has played on TBS about 42 times in the last month. The gist of the plot is that she is a battered woman who eventually has enough and takes self defense classes to learn how to kill her husband.

In reality, no one should be trying to kill anybody, but what will you do when someone comes at you with a knife? A slap in the face doesn’t always shock and surprise. So, I recently went looking for a self defense class with CH2 Editor-in-Chief, Maggie Washo. We were expecting to learn how to get out of a choke hold with a drop spin type move, but what we dropped into was a beginner’s Kung fu class.

I remember looking at Maggie mid-jumping-jack, giggling and asking, “What are we doing here?”

Shouting “high-ya” and chopping my attacker didn’t seem like something that would save my life. I was wrong. In actuality, the Kung fu can be followed in history all the way back to the ancient Chinese military. Kung fu is also used to describe any individual accomplishment, but as history shows, it is a self discipline practice used for self defense.

Not only does Kung fu stand for health, exercise and fighting, but historically it also stands for self control and art. Though the combative art form developed into many styles over hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the end of the Chinese Civil War in the mid 1900s that martial arts became of international interest. Demonstrations had been made before at the Olympic Games, but it wasn’t until skilled martial artists escaped the People’s Republic of China that they could teach their craft to other cultures.

Kung fu has evolved to include two styles of fighting: no weapons fighting and weapons fighting. Both methods are taught at Sun and Moon Martial Arts Studio, in Bluffton, SC. In my situation, no weapons fighting is ideal.

Here is what you were too afraid to ask…

It is currently reported that one in four American women will be physically assaulted by their significant other in their lifetime. And 30 to 65 percent of all homicides of American women are domestic violence related. Internationally, at least one in every three women has been beaten, raped or suffered some other type of abuse.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2007 crime reports, violent crime in non-metropolitan cities and counties with populations between 10,000 and 25,000 increased this past year. If you think that doesn’t include Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, I think you are wrong. In 2004, the state of South Carolina was ranked second in the nation for violent crime, according to FBI statistics. Some say accuracy in reporting crime is much higher in South Carolina than anywhere else and that causes the ranking to be skewed, but by how much? Why become a statistic?

This is not about being afraid to ask about Kung fu. It’s about being afraid to admit that in this day and age, violence can happen to you. And if it is happening to you, do not be afraid to ask for help, because there are many options. Learning to defend yourself is just one.

This is where Sun and Moon Martial Arts comes back into play. I recently took a few classes to experience what it would be like to have self defense skills. In all honesty, it feels silly at first, but before long, it feels empowering.

Head instructor, Tim Quickmire, has over 29 years experience. Quickmire (also known by the Chinese term “Sufi,” actually meaning father but translated as teacher) started learning martial arts in 1974 at age eight. He had a love for the late Bruce Lee, and out of a slight hero worship, wanted to be just like him. As Quickmire got older, he became more serious about his study of Kung fu. He saw a sword demonstration and was hooked.

By 1984, Quickmire was a black belt, and by 1989, he earned his masters in martial arts. In 1995, Sports Karate International ranked him the number one black belt overall, and in 1998, he won a spot in the National Blackbelt League’s professional hall of fame. In addition, he has won 11 national championships and trained 15 world champions. Sun and Moon karate school is ranked number 25 in the world, and Tim Quickmire made it happen—for the love of the sport.

“The awards I’ve won in my life are garbage compared to the rewards I get teaching,” Quickmire said.

He said this was the absolute most difficult job he had ever had because of the responsibility you have to the kids in helping raise them. But what caught me off guard was when he said, “If you don’t have to use self defense once in your life, call yourself lucky.”

After taking a few classes, I felt I had a responsibility to myself to learn how to protect my life. It’s just finding the time and making the commitment that is difficult.

In an average of six months training, you can at least learn how to protect yourself if provoked physically. In just a few sessions, I was introduced to Chi Kung, a method of breathing to conserve energy. I learned three basic kicks and how to hold basic chamber positioning. I was also introduced to some basic hand self defense.

I will probably have to practice more, but if you came at me a certain way with a knife, I could attempt to break your arm and definitely get in a decent strike. It’s almost scary how certain fist and finger positions can really injure, and even kill, if used properly. I think that the discipline of Kung fu, taught in time, could save your life.

In all honestly, my old self defense tactics consisted of trying to kick, knee, claw or even bite a possible attacker. I’d much rather know how to keep my calm and get away as quickly as possible than count on my clever techniques—just some food for thought, lady islanders.

And for those guys out there who feel the need for real self defense training, rather than relying on their spectacular right hook, classes are for everyone.

For more information on Sun and Moon Martial Arts, contact Tim Quickmire at 843.815.6565. For more information on domestic violence prevention, contact SCCADVASA, South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at 1.800.260.9293.

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