By Gloria Young
Journal Staff Writer
Instructor Bob Davis has a black belt in Kyokushin karate and Aiki-Jujitsu. But the focus of his self-defense class at Placer School for Adults in Auburn is on using minimal force.
“A lot of the class is geared toward avoiding having to fight,” he said.
De-escalation is key.
“The biggest thing is, although they are defending themselves, people can go beyond what is reasonable and necessary,” he explained. “If someone attacks you and throws you to the ground, (to respond is) your self-defense right. If you then jump on top of the attacker and start punching, you’ve become the aggressor. Any time you can get away safely, that’s what you should do.”
Overstepping the boundaries of what’s necessary for self-defense can result in criminal charges or civil lawsuits, he said.
He also covers the dynamics of violence — how it happens and the different types.
“There’s social violence and asocial violence,” he said. “Social is what you see guys doing in a bar — not trying to kill each other, just trying to prove who’s tougher. Asocial violence is usually violence for resources. It is a mugger or another type of criminal violence. That’s more the focus of this class — how the criminal attacks and what you need to do, where they attack from, avoidance and de-escalation of both types of violence.”
Davis’ students learn and practice basic martial arts moves. At the same time, they receive grounding in becoming more aware of their surroundings and lowering their chances of becoming a crime victim
“They’re learning strikes and how to escape from grasps,” he said. “The last class is how to react if you’re taken to the ground.”
His approach and much of his material is derived from author Rory Miller’s book, “Facing Violence.” Davis was so inspired by the book that he attended one of Miller’s seminars.
Michael Bennett, deputy with Placer County Sheriff’s Office and assigned to Del Oro High School as resource officer, teaches personal safety classes for women.
“The self defense we cover is for when someone is holding you against your will or you are in a life-threatening situation,” he said. “These techniques may break a few bones and will work to get you out of the situation.”
His four-hour course also emphasizes doing what’s necessary for self defense but not more.
“If your life is in danger, someone is forcing you to go somewhere against your will or (you’re facing) sexual battery, you have to be able to get away,” he said. “But if you are in a bar and someone touches your rear end, you don’t have the right to drive his nose into his brain.”
An important aspect is prevention and being aware of the psychology of what predators are looking for — how they target their victims and how to make sure they don’t look at you, but at someone else, he said.
This is the first time Placer School for Adults has offered the self-defense class and there are plans to put it on the schedule again in the spring. Cost for the six two-hour sessions is $74.
The fall class had seven students ranging in age from 19 to senior citizens. One of the participants was Auburn resident Kerrie Jeppson.
“I’ve been wanting to take a self-defense course for a while,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. (Davis) has a wealth of knowledge in a lot of different areas of self defense. … (I enjoyed learning about) the legal aspects and what that looks like, how not to be a victim, how to de-escalate a situation and how to avoid dangerous situations,” she said.
Fellow student Will Waldron agreed.
“It’s a great class. It teaches you how to avoid the situations and also have the confidence and abilities to protect yourself if you get into those situations,” he said. “It’s a very fun class and very informative. It’s kind of a bad subject but very beneficial. I’m teaching my daughter.”
Davis is also the Placer School for Adults system administrator.
Reach Gloria Young at firstname.lastname@example.org