Teenagers learn self-defense

Debbie Snapp
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Before the school year ended, Sally Beshears, the grandmother of a soon-to-be graduating high school senior, became nervous about her grand-daughter going off to college; it would be a new school, new location, new people and probably nothing like she was used to in the small town of Monticello.
When this realization hit her, she decided to contact Jefferson County Sheriff Mac McNeill to get his thoughts about self-defense techniques for her granddaughter and a few of her friends, who are also leaving their close-knit and family-oriented community to places unknown. Beshears wanted her granddaughter to be safe and to come home from college with happy and positive memories.
Sheriff McNeill suggested a self-defense class to educate and prepare these students for their educational journey. He contacted a work-related acquaintance with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who he had worked with before to set up a day that he could come and meet with the students.
Special Agent Brian Gaynor, an inspector with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was only happy to assist in keeping these kids safe by arming them with education and hands-on instruction.
On Saturday, May 18 a self-defense class was held with 11 interested students including Grace Beshears, Anna Lee Trest, MacKenzie Wirick, Lindsey Davis, Marilee Heaps, Haley Paul, Grace Paul, Hunter Paul, Turner Beshears, Caroline Norvell and Meg Norvell. Adult leaders included Sally Beshears and Sally Walton. The attending deputies included Dustin Matthews, Dustin McCoy, Corey Burrus, K9 Magnum and Sheriff McNeill.
When tasked with creating this course of instruction, Gaynor knew that no single physical self-defense move or technique could be taught that would achieve lasting desired results. In fact, he knew that no matter what they did on the mats, they would not have enough time or repetitions to make it a trained response to an attack. He did however, know that given the time parameters they could achieve a greater sense of situational awareness. Being aware of your surroundings, and not oblivious to them, can make all the difference. In fact, that skill alone can quite often prevent an attack from occurring in the first place. He incorporated very basic but effective defensive tactic skills that are easy to learn and easy to remember when needed. This combination of mindset and reactionary physical skills provided the students with a skill-set they should feel confident with in most situations they may face in and around any college campus.
“Why are you here today?” Gaynor asked the students.
“I don't want to be a victim,” was said by one student and “I'm here to defend myself,” were the words of another.
Gaynor's suggestion to the students was to learn an extra sport, like wrestling or karate, and always to be on the alert and aware of your surroundings.