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Getting defensive about safety

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Double Oak residents Phil Miller and Gary Jordan offer free self-defense lessons each week at Double Oak Town Hall.
Double Oak residents Phil Miller and Gary Jordan offer free self-defense lessons each week at Double Oak Town Hall.

If you listen to the local news, how many times each week do you hear stories about a person attacked in a parking lot outside a mall, home break-ins– even during daytime hours, carjackings, a runner jumped on a jogging trail or a child being lured by a stranger in a car?

How safe do you feel? What about your kids? Today, no community is free from random violence; that’s reality.

However, what is also a reality is that personal safety can be taught through self-defense lessons and those lessons are taught in Double Oak every Wednesday night— for free; no money, period. You can learn how to protect yourself if attacked and also practice how to get away by hurting the assailant and causing as much pain as possible.

The hour-long class is taught by Double Oak residents Gary Jordan and his student of 20-years, Phil Miller.

“I started studying a style of self-defense called Shaolin Kempo about 35-years ago, when I was in graduate school in San Francisco,” said Jordan, who has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. “My wife and I had gone to see a Bruce Lee double-feature and after the movies, we thought taking some lessons would be something we could do together for fun.”

Great idea, but student income didn’t leave money to spend for classes in Lee’s style of martial arts—Jeet Kune Do, incorporating elements of kung fu, fencing and boxing. As luck would have it, Gary’s wife was working in a pet store and– through a parrot connection– the couple learned of inexpensive classes in the Shaolin Kempo martial arts style being taught in a basement studio.

“Although Shaolin Kempo has a formal ranking style like the ‘hard-style’ martial arts of Korean Taekwando or the Japanese Karate from Okinawa, or the ‘soft-styles’ like Chinese Kung Fu or Tai Chi, it’s primarily a style used for self-protection,” said Jordan. “Although it’s best to hear, ‘I never had to use it,’ if someone does need to protect him/herself, that person was able to avoid being a victim.”

Most martial arts are taught in a face-to-face, male boxing-like stance, but most women and children are actually attacked from behind.

Shaolin Kempo is ranked midway between the ‘hard’ styles– which use closed fists, while standing at arms-length– and the open ‘soft’ styles, started by Buddhist monks to protect their temples from Chinese war lord invasions. This style incorporates blocking and punching, as well as how to kick and use an assailant’s body to create imbalance like Japanese Jujutsu or Judo.

“We teach people how to ‘feel’ themselves in space and be aware of their environment, as well as how to push, hit, kick, or punch an attacker to be able to get away,” said Jordan. “We don’t want people to hang around and stand toe-to-toe and fight their attacker. We want them to know how to make an advantage for them and the most pain for the attacker, so they can get out of there and be safe.”

Skills and techniques such as body awareness, economy-of-motion, speed, power are taught, as well as how to have a “Plan B” in case “Plan A” isn’t successful.

The beginning-level classes are taught on a sequential six- to eight-week revolving schedule. That learning format means that students who might otherwise attend church-related functions on Wednesdays can still participate in the free self-defense classes. An adult is required to attend classes for children under age 12.

“People don’t have to commit to a weekly block of classes,” said Jordan. “If they miss a few weeks, they can return and learn that week’s lesson without having missed any ‘building’ techniques; each class can stand on its own.”

As an added bonus, students can learn the history of the martial art– dating back to the 5th Century in southern China taught by an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma, to its introduction to Hawaii and then mainland America.

Also, stories of how martial arts tools, such as nunchucks, were originally used by farmers to pound rice are shared; or, how “flying” high kicks– which were originally used to knock soldiers off their horses in hilly countries like Korea– have been adapted into modern day techniques.

The weekly classes are open to everyone and held from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Double Oak Town Hall, 320 Waketon Rd. For more information on the classes, contact Jordan at garyjordan2000@gmail.com

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