Inside a beginner self-defense class at Lake Tahoe — through the eyes of a first-timer
Basic self-defense tips
As it turns out, there’s (unfortunately) not a great amount of credible literature on the Internet regarding simple tips on self-defense and personal protection.
However, there are some websites that offer simple directions and some easy-to-follow instructional videos.
For instance, here’s a Howcast guide — howcast.com/guides/1064-basic-self-defense-moves — check it out, or conduct your own online search to find what works best for you.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — I am out of my element.
That’s what dawned on me Monday evening as I took my first self-defense class at North Lake Tahoe Martial Arts in Incline Village.
No amount of action movies I’ve seen growing up starring Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Harrison Ford beating — literally — the bad guy(s) at the end would help me.
(I was raised by a single father, which explains my familiarity with movies such as “Under Siege,” “Sudden Death” and “Air Force One.”)
The kicks, punches and blocks the class instructors were demonstrating to me were more technical than I anticipated.
When I mentioned that to Ken Job, one of the two instructors who worked with me during the roughly hour-long class at the dojo at 288 Village Blvd. Unit No. 7, he said: “It’s been handed down for thousands of years, and it’s gotten refined. No matter how much you know, you are always a beginner.”
A beginner I certainly was, having never thrown a punch or directed a kick to anyone — and I’m sure it showed.
For the roundhouse kick, I kept forgetting to rotate my non-kicking leg, as I was supposed to do. For the front kick, I kept curling my toes before making impact with the pad; they should have been straight.
There were even a few times I lost my balance, wobbling on my single grounded leg as if I was learning to walk for the first time. Thankfully, I didn’t fall.
Otherwise, that would hurt — my pride more than anything else. (There was a blue practice matt underfoot to help cushion my physical fall.)
Luckily I was the only one in attendance for the class, providing me a chance to have one-on-one instruction — or more accurately, one-on-two instruction.
During the blocking portion of the session, the other instructor, Paul De Luca brings up the “wax on, wax off” reference from the “Karate Kid.”
Finally, a movie I’ve seen comes to my aid. However, I’m a bit overzealous in my blocks, deflecting incoming punches too far off to the side, away from my body.
Other basics we go over include how to get out of various holds by using any of the following methods:
Exploiting any weaknesses in a hold, such as a gap between fingers,
Using an opponent’s strength against him or her; and
Targeting sensitive body parts such as the throat, nose and groin.
All efforts to help with escape.
‘A last resort’
Yet the best defense Job said is being alert and aware of your surroundings — in short, prevention.
Should you find yourself in an impending physical alternation, Job advises: “Always run. At the first chance, get out of there. Talk your way out of it. Always get out of a fight.
“ … Use (martial arts) as a last resort, the very last thing you want to do.”
Hopefully, I never find myself in a situation where I will have to draw upon what I learned. However, should I, at least I’ll be a bit more prepared.
“It’s there if you need it,” Job said. “Talk your way out (or) run. But if your back is up against a wall, and you have no other choice, someone is trying to do something to you, you have to save yourself — self defense.”
Margaret Moran is a reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspapers. Visit dojos.info/nltmartialarts or canemasters.com to learn more about North Tahoe Martial Arts and view offered classes and class schedules, or call 775-832-6560.