When Steve and Niki St. Pierre of the All American Karate Academy decided to put on a self defense workshop for the women of Putnam County, they quickly found a valuable ally on their side. Not only is Mayor Nancy Michael endorsing this Saturday's workshop, she will be attending and learning the avoidance and self defense techniques herself.
"This is something I've put off for a long time, and I'm excited about doing this with Steve and Niki," Michael said.
The workshop will take place Saturday at the academy, 1003 Mill Pond Ln. There will be instruction from 10 a.m.-noon and 1:15-3 p.m. The cost is $30 for individuals and $25 each for multiple family members.
The St. Pierres cited statistics which say one in four women will be attacked at some point in their lives. Michael echoed their calls for preparation.
"Women underestimate their need to be prepared all the time. You cannot assume," she said. "Greencastle is a safe place, but you never know. You want to be on your guard."
Knowing he has a "spokesperson for the community," Steve feels the workshop will be successful and of great service to Putnam County women.
What both Steve and Niki emphasized was the false sense of security many women have about their safety from rape or assault. While many tend to think of small, midwestern cities and towns as safe, Steve indicated that 72 percent of all rapes in the United States occur in the midwest. On top of this, every 2 1/2 minutes, a woman is forcibly raped in the United States.
While the numbers can seem very bad, the hope is that the situation will never arise in which a woman needs to defend herself. More than simply teaching self defense, the workshop will teach women ways to avoid being a victim.
"Avoidance is the number one goal," Niki said. "Hopefully they can avoid getting into the situation."
Participants will learn some of the misconceptions about rapists and rape victims. For example, strangers are not generally the attackers.
Additionally, they will find out what signs to watch for from attackers.
However, if avoidance does not work, women will also learn some of the techniques to fend off an attacker. This is the portion of the class which makes most women nervous.
"Most women either say, 'It will never happen to me,' or 'I can't do that," said Steve.
But this is not the case with the techniques they will learn. These are basic, easy to execute moves that use gross motor skills.
And instead of just seeing the techniques demonstrated by someone else, the participants will have the chance to practice them on some sample assailants at the end of the session. Some of Steve's regular male students will be on hand to play the part of attackers.This should give the participants more confidence should they ever have to use the techniques in a real situation.
Best of all, the class will be led by a couple of extremely qualified instructors. Niki, who is heading up the class, is a third-degree black belt who was the 2006 Indiana, National and International champion in self defense. Perhaps more importantly, she began her training 12 years ago when she went through the very real fear of being stalked.
Steve is an eighth degree black belt and former world champion who has been training for 40 years. He recently became a lifetime member of the United States Karate do Kai, an honor only bestowed upon three people each year.
"I think it's great for the women of Putnam County to be able to take advantage of a service from this institution," said Michael. "We are very fortunate to have Steve and Niki in our community."
For more information, call the All American Karate Academy at 655-1300.