Defending against the indefensible | Women fight back

Family / November 15, 2016

It’s the middle of the night, and there’s a knock on your door. You turn on the lights and make your way to the door, where you hear someone crying for help. You’re alone. After looking through the peephole, you don’t recognize the person. But it’s raining outside, and it would be rude to turn away someone who might need a helping hand.

What do you do?

“Don’t open that door,” said Kirk Zaner, public relations officer for the Hot Springs Police Department. “Never allow strangers into your residence. Once inside, they can overpower you. If you think someone needs assistance, call the police on their behalf.”

Predators often initiate attacks by appealing to women’s sense of kindness. Women are disproportionately in danger of home invasions, battery, rape, human trafficking and stalking. Abused women often face the daunting

Chris Turner, Krav Maga instructor at Krav Maga Fitness

Chris Turner, Krav Maga instructor at Krav Maga Fitness

task of protecting not only themselves, but their children.

The website of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN,, notes, “Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. Eighty-two percent of all juvenile victims are female. 90 percent of adult rape victims are female.”

Many women are learning to defend themselves. Several opportunities for training exist in the Hot Springs area, including self-defense and firearms classes.

Krav Fit at 450 Broadway St. in Hot Springs offers instruction in Krav Maga, a form of martial arts developed for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, and often taught to law enforcement personnel.

“We offer self-defense classes. But we don’t offer classes with only women, because in most situations, women are attacked by men,” said Joe Huskey, lead instructor at Krav Fit Hot Springs. “To create a more realistic environment, we partner men and women.”

Elite Family Martial Arts at 1721 MLK Blvd. in Malvern welcomes Garland County residents. “Rape is more common than most people realize. You probably know several women who’ve been raped, although they may not have told you,” said instructor Grady Young.

Elite Family Martial Arts teaches self-defense to students 15 years old and older. “Self-defense covers awareness, assertiveness, verbal confrontation skills, safety strategies and physical techniques,” Young explains. “Self-defense classes don’t require martial arts training. It’s about learning personal safety, not earning a black belt.”

Some women seek a different approach to self-defense.

“When I was younger, I took karate lessons for a few years, and learned a lot,” said Maggie Haase, of Hot Springs. “As a woman, though, you need something which makes you more equal to men. Guns are the great equalizer for women, and not just for a single woman, but for those she may have with her. A 120-pound woman has little or no advantage against the proverbial 200-pound gorilla bent on mayhem. A gun, and the ability to use it effectively, could be the deciding factor in whether you live, die or simply become a vegetable.”

“Self-defense classes don’t require martial arts training. It’s about personal training, not earning a black belt.” – Grady Young

Haase, a certified concealed carry instructor, is quick to point out the necessity of training. “I do not advocate putting a gun in the hands of anyone, man or woman, who has had little or no training,” she said. Haase is also an instructor for the Mountain Valley Sportsman’s Association’s “Ladies On Target” program.

“Those who wish to defend themselves, their loved ones and the defenseless against aggression need to be armed and trained,” said Ted Smethers, MVSA Action Shooting Venue chairman and vice president of Friends of NRA-Central Arkansas Committee in Hot Springs. “Even for martial arts experts, there’s a limit to what you can do with only your hands, and what you can wield.”

Gun safety and concealed carry classes are available in Garland County from Haase and other instructors. “If you’re going to exercise your Second Amendment rights, you have a duty to get all the training possible, and then take that training to the practice facility and hone your skills. If you aren’t willing to do that, then you have no business carrying a concealed gun,” said Haase.

In addition to training, aKRAV MAGAwareness is crucial. “Our classes teach you to think about where you can be attacked, and where your attacker could be hiding,” Young said.

“If grabbed or attacked, go for the eyes, using thumbs or fingers. Once released, run and scream ‘fire.’ People are afraid to assist, but are more afraid of burning,” said Huskey.

“If you sense something wrong when walking to your car, get someone to walk with you,” Zaner advises. “Walk with keys extended in your hand, and if attacked, use them to gouge the attacker’s eyes. Scream loudly to draw attention. Use groin kicks. Step on the attacker’s feet. If the incident involves property, such as a purse, there’s nothing in that purse worth losing your life over. But if it’s a physical attack or abduction attempt, fight back.”

The Garland County Sheriff ’s Department website offers “Laura’s Card” at The card outlines rights and resources for abuse survivors, and advises “developing a code that will alert a neighbor or friend to call the police” and to “have a bag packed with a change of clothes, important papers, spare keys, cellphone and cash.”

Taking charge of one’s own defense isn’t always easy. As the Krav Fit website at http://www. states, “Self-defense is not comfortable.”

But it may save your life.

Story by Shannon Curtman | Photography by Mara Kuhn

Lindsey Wells

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November 15, 2016