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- Crossing the line
T.A.K.E defense training empowers QU women
I’ve always considered myself to be strong, both physically and emotionally. As a child, I held my own in scuffles with my older brother; as a teen, I could beat the boys at arm-wrestling; and in college, I have worked hard to stay in shape. This, combined with my youth, has given me an invincibility complex. This mentality is common among today’s youth, but a reality check arrived on Nov. 29 when The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation, or T.A.K.E, instructed a self-defense training class.
The class, which was sponsored by Pi Beta Phi, Alpha Delta Pi and Sigma Phi Epsilon, has appeared at locations across the country since 2005 teaching free self-defense training. T.A.K.E. was founded by Roger Kemp and his wife, the parents of 19-year-old Ali Kemp, who was a member of Pi Beta Phi at Kansas State University before being murdered in the summer of 2002.
“It’s important to be strong and confident, especially on a college campus,” senior Sarah Drew said. “I think things like this event are kind of a reassurance that we have those skills and can take care of ourselves.”
Roughly 100 women from the Quinnipiac community filled Burt Kahn Court to learn self-defense moves from instructors Jill and Bob Leiker, who were recruited by Roger Kemp to teach the class. Women were instructed to make as much noise as possible if being attacked, and learned how to incapacitate their attackers by focusing on the eyes, nose, throat, and groin.
“This isn’t a class about violence; this is a class about safety,” Jill said. “I believe every woman should know how to defend herself. Many of us take CPR certification every year to protect other people, but we need to stop and think about protecting ourselves.”
The instructors shared story after story of women who’ve been attacked, and about the men, or “scumbags” as Bob called them, who commit crimes against women. Despite my earlier confidence, I began to realize that, unless I was being attacked, I have no way of knowing how I would respond in the situations that the Leikers described. Perhaps, despite all my bravado would disappear, and I would freeze like so many other young women. The thought that I, too, am susceptible to the dangerous acts of others made the class an extremely humbling, but also empowering, experience.
“I’m going abroad next semester to Australia, so I thought it would be good to be able to defend myself in another country if I need to,” junior Emily Barry said. “And on a college campus, and for young women in general, it is a particularly serious issue.”
Predators are known to look for vulnerability: the inexperience of a college freshman, the weakness of a lone female walking to her car or to her dorm at night, or the trademark girly stickers or detailing on a young woman’s car. This class taught the importance of being prepared through anecdotes and physical practice.
“I’ve never been to anything like this before so it’s really cool, and I honestly didn’t know anything, so I feel much more aware,” junior Katie Kilday said. “I think I’m going to be a lot more aware of my surroundings after this, and a lot more comfortable if I’m in dangerous situations.”
Since 2005, T.A.K.E. has trained nearly 50,000 women, ranging in age from 12 to 90. Roger Kemp was recognized in 2011 as one of 13 receivers of the Presidential Citizens Medal for his work with the organization and his initiative to post the photos of wanted criminals on billboards.
“I thought it was empowering,” freshman Hannah Grigorian said. “I think the problem with most women defending themselves is that they’re too concerned with niceties to really scream or commit to a punch. This program helped us let all that go and realize that when our safety is involved women can kick some butt.”
Attending T.A.K.E was a much-needed reminder of my own vulnerability. I’m now determined to let people know where I am at all times. I will do my best to maintain safety in numbers, and I will be ready to fight back with all that I have; kicking, screaming, scratching and biting, if ever the need arises.