Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 11, 2013

Self-defense on parents' minds

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Jim Adkins taught his four daughters self-defense moves, but believes successful self-protection has more to do with mindset than eye jabs or choke holds.

Adkins is a Traverse City martial arts instructor and said his lessons were put to the test when a meth addict slipped into one daughter’s home while she attended Arizona State University a few years ago.

The man hid and waited until she was alone. He attacked her over 2½ hours, and finally threatened to stab her with a hypodermic needle. For a moment, she acquiesced, then kicked and clawed her way loose, grabbed a sword — a gift from her dad — and chased him into the kitchen.

“He turned and thought he was going to fight her, and she hacked at him, made him bleed, and he took off,” said Adkins, co-owner of White Tiger Martial Arts. “I’m sure she used everything she could remember, but at that point, it was more about her mindset. She remembered, ‘I am not a victim.’”

Just a little self-defense training can save one’s life, and it’s not a bad idea before heading off to college, said White Tiger co-owner Sarah Adkins.

Women and their teen daughters often team up in self-defense classes at Seung-Ni Martial Arts Academy, said owner Kevin Shoults.

There was a “huge increase” in demand this past year, spurred by the attack of two females on walking trails last year, as well as an attack on a Traverse City woman at Grand Valley State University. She had returned home about 1 a.m. from the library, Shoults said.

Shoults offers a two-hour class in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Nurses often sign up because they fear attack as they walk to their cars. Most recently, a birthday party club of women in their 40s and 50s took a class together, he said.

“You want to disorient an attacker to give yourself a chance to run away — an eye jab, a jab to the throat,” he said. “We do muscle memory and a lot of repetition. Over 90 percent of attacks end up on the ground. We do a steady diet of on-the-ground because statistically you’re going to end up there.”

Michelle Salata said her teen daughter, Audrey, wasn’t crazy about taking the class. Like many teens, she didn’t think anything bad could happen to her.

“But I made her do it,” Salata said.

After their daughter’s attack, the Adkins have offered a free self-defense class on her May birthday. The studio uses American Kenpo, a no-nonsense, street-smart self-defense, said Sarah Adkins, adding she wished more people would sign up.

Chris Pline, who owns ATA Martial Arts, said he regularly gets calls about self-defense, but it’s hard to schedule with college-bound teens. He teaches a Warrior Krav Maga class, which one can join at any time.

Pline said he sees young women transform in front of his eyes.

“They become more confident and carry themselves more differently,” he said. “If you carry yourself good, more people are less likely to pick on you.”