July 15, 2024


Conestoga students choked, punched and flipped each other on March 6, but didn’t get into any trouble, as they were attending an annual defence class hosted by two martial art volunteers.

Sarah Dougall and Sean McDonald are martial art instructors who ran the third annual defence class at Conestoga College. Dougall started martial arts training in 1996 and McDonald began in approximately 1984.

“I have been training since 1985 … or 84, whenever the first Karate Kid came out. Yes, that is what started it all for me,” McDonald said.

The first Karate Kid movie hit theatres in 1984.

Since Conestoga College facilities are open day and night, some students have classes that run into the evening. In order to make sure they are safe getting to and from the college, Dougall suggests walking in a group or calling Walksafe on campus.

“Students should also take a self-defence course to try and get a basic level of understanding of how an assault occurs and what you should do to get out of that situation. But really it is a mindset that we want. It’s called hyper vigilance, the fight or flight syndrome. We want to get students to the point where they’re going to fight and change their thoughts from will I win to I will win … We don’t want anyone to freeze and become a victim,” McDonald said.

The defence class raises awareness and teaches students to feel confident reacting if put in a bad situation. As well, the class gives students the chance to bring forward concerns about the campus.

The class began with knee strikes. When being attacked you should avoid kicking because you can very easily lose your balance. You want to grab the back of your attacker’s neck and use your other hand to hold their head down. When striking with your knee you want to get your power from your hips, and you don’t want your knee to bounce off of your attacker. You want to hit with the intent of your knee going through them. You’re not just doing the Can-Can dance.

You’re not going to just knee somebody anywhere. You want to aim for a place that will actually hurt them such as the stomach, groin, or in the side of the thigh, the spot that gives you a charley horse when hit. That spot is actually a nerve motor point and when it is hit it will cause dysfunction in the leg. The instructors put neon smiley face stickers on the legs of students, to show where to aim during the class.

“With a lot of the stuff we are teaching, you will get hit, you will get punched, maybe get kicked and 100 per cent you will get choked. We want you to leave here knowing that what we will teach you actually works … If you have to use these techniques on the streets they will work,” McDonald said.

The most common attack on females is the front choke. It is very simple to get out off. All you have to do is put both your arms up and turn your whole body sharply keeping your arms stiff. This breaks the attackers hold on your neck and puts you in the perfect position to strike with your elbow. It doesn’t matter which way you turn, as long as you keep your arms stiff you will break the choke hold. This technique will also work if you are pinned to a wall for example.

If grabbed by the wrist there are a few techniques to assist you. When someone grabs you the weakest part of their hand is their thumb. You want to turn your wrist toward your attacker’s thumb and sharply pull away. If their grip is much too strong to pull away from you can strike them on the arm just under the bend in their elbow, where there is a radial nerve. When hit this spot will have the same effect as a charley horse in the leg.

Many people’s first instinct is to punch an attacker, however, punching properly requires a lot of training and can sometimes be dangerous. You can easily break a knuckle, thumb or wrist. A better alternative is a palm heel strike. There is much less chance of breaking bones using the heel of your palm because your hand is open flat and it is much harder than your fist. It’s not a high five or a slap, but rather, you want to hit your attacker with the heel of your palm.

You want to strike where you are strong which is directly in front of you. It doesn’t matter where it is on the other person’s body. However, usually an attacker is bigger than you are so you will be most likely striking them in the chest or stomach.

McDonald told the class it isn’t always better to punch someone in the face because you could get bit or cut by their teeth.

Leave a Reply