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In 2015, 20 percent of female undergraduate college students said they were victims of a sexual assault, according to a survey from the Association of American Universities.
The association surveyed 150,000 students from 27 schools across the country.
In an attempt to better prepare females on campus, Kirk’s Premier Martial Arts held a two-hour self-protection training at Sykes Student Union for two sororities at the university.
“We teach Krav Maga, which is Hebrew for contact combat, a reality-based self-defense system,” said Jason Cohen, vice president of Krav Maga Universal and manager of operations. “We’re going to be teaching this to all of them, basing things on how to stand, how to move, how to hit correctly, how to be aware of your surroundings and also the idea of being physically fit.”
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West Chester University isn’t immune to the attacks.
In 2014, five sexual assaults were reported in the span of a month at the university.
“With all the stuff that can go wrong on a college campus and with sexual assaults that happen on college campuses, it’s good to know how to defend yourself when you need to,” said Zoe Falcone, a freshman at West Chester. “I’m ready to work up a sweat and learn some new moves.”
Several instructors came out to help teach the sorority sisters in attendance.
Some of the instructors included local police officers, who would know what kind of assaults could happen on any given day.
“The commonality is women are being perceived as an easy target,” Cohen said. “There are tons of sexual assaults and street crimes on females every day. They need to know the tools are available to them and then think how they can overpower someone that’s bigger, stronger, faster and more aggressive. We’re showing them that now, not only feasible for them to do and they should be doing it, but it’s easy to learn and progress through it.”
Krav Maga — what was taught to the students — is a hand-to-hand combat system which involves striking techniques, wrestling and grappling and “brutal” counterattacks, according to the Krav Maga Universal website.
It’s a defense fighting technique taught to keep a person safe and to incapacitate the attacker.
These instructors know what attackers look for because of case studies they do with people in prison for violent crimes. They ask these people what it is they look for so the instructors can inform others of what not to do.
“The first thing we teach is a situational awareness,” Cohen said. “A lot of people with their phones have their heads down and not paying attention. We can instruct (the students) what they don’t want to do when you’re in this situation, what to look for, how to get out quickly and, if worse comes to worse and it does go to hands-on, how to quickly eliminate the threat and get to a safe spot.”
Falcone, who was one of the over-200 sisters that came out for the event, believes this kind of class is something all females should learn.
“I think it’s a good skill to learn and 100 percent, other sororities should (take a class),” she said. “I think it’s good that we as sisters learn how to defend ourselves if we needed to. This is a pretty good class.”
Cohen and the other instructors, including Ernie Kirk, who is president of Krav Maga Universal and founded the martial arts studio in West Chester, want to become more proactive in teaching the techniques to females in the area.
“We believe that it’s people’s responsibility that not enough people are taking,” Cohen said. “You can learn self-defense in all sorts of different manners and forms all over the place, but no one really goes to them until something bad happens. We want to be a little more preemptive.”
And, as Cohen pointed out, it’s for any female — tall, short, large, skinny and everywhere in between.
“Anyone can do it,” he said. “Krav Maga is taught to the entire Israeli Defense Forces. They go from not knowing anything to being combat ready in a very short period of time. Anybody can do this and that’s exactly what it was designed for – a common person can defend themselves against the craziness in the world.”