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Losing fright, gaining confidence

Dispatch reporters Theresa Bourke and Sara Guymon share their takeaways from a five-week self-defense course at Team Ascension.

Final self-defense column
Instructor Mike Olson watches on as Dispatch reporter Sara Guymon gets ready to practice a kick on a punch bag, held by Dispatch reporter Theresa Bourke.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — The best way to stay safe is to extricate yourself from a dangerous situation at all costs.

But if all else fails, knowing some self-defense basics is the next best thing. A person doesn’t have to be a black belt in martial arts to defend themselves from danger. Even basic techniques can do the trick. After all, the best self-defense is the one that simply gets you home safely.

Theresa’s take

And after a few sessions at Team Ascension in Brainerd, I feel like I have a grasp on some of those techniques and the self-confidence to use them.

Read more
Self-defense doesn’t have to be strictly physical and can be as simple as removing yourself from a situation or conversation you aren’t comfortable in.

For those who have been following along, fellow Dispatch reporter Sara Guymon and I attended a five-week self-defense course called Lose the Fright, Win the Fight at Team Ascension, courtesy of owner Barbara Haney and her family.

Under the direction of instructors Mike Olson and Sensei Brent Haney, we and other attendees learned basic kicks, punches, elbow strikes and other muay thai and American Kenpo maneuvers to overpower an opponent or attacker. Instructors taught us just where to aim to have the biggest impact and inspired us to feel like we could successfully defend ourselves, even if we don’t happen to be especially physically strong.

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Sara’s take

After a few classes at Team Ascension, I had gotten used to the sore arms and legs. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea of flipping someone though.

Under the care of Team Ascension, I learned the basics of punching and kicking, how to use my body mass in a fight and how vital elbows can be when defending yourself.

In all honesty, I am one of the least intimidating people I know. My height is well below average and I look as if I could still be in high school, but taking this class made me feel confident that I could defend myself if a situation ever arose.

Read more
Self-defense doesn’t have to be strictly physical and can be as simple as removing yourself from a situation or conversation you aren’t comfortable in.
Brainerd martial arts studio Team Ascension is offering a five-week self-defense course to those of all ages.
Self-defense classes have not only taught me defensive techniques. They've also boosted by self-confidence.
Brainerd martial arts studio Team Ascension is offering a five-week self-defense course to those of all ages.

Key takeaways

  • If you can get away without confrontation, do it.
  • Putting your feelings above others’ is OK.
  • Elbows are great weapons.
  • A shot to the liver can be extremely painful.
  • Kick with your shin.
  • When falling backward, tuck in your chin and extend your arms out to your sides.
  • Technique over strength.
  • Avoid being on the ground in a fight.
  • Getting out of the situation is more important than winning.

The fear of walking alone at night is something most — if not all — women have felt at one point or another. And it’s likely a feeling that will continue for us, but now we’re going to make a point of being more aware of our surroundings, and we’re going to carry with us what we learned at Team Ascension. We hope we’ll never have to use our newfound knowledge, but we’ll be as prepared as possible if we do.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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