by Kelly Sainz
When I leave work late at night or I make an impromptu trip up to Kowalski’s to get groceries two blocks from my apartment, I don’t always pay attention to my surroundings. Most of the time I am on my phone, listening to music or am otherwise spaced out. These tasks seem normal and safe enough, and no one wants to go through life thinking about the bad things that may lurk around a dark corner. The fact is though, that an alarming number of women are attacked or abducted at these times, and what Al Horner taught us during his self defense class at Fallon was that while you shouldn’t live in fear it still pays to be aware and prepared for the worst.
Al Horner, who has dedicated his time to educating women about the realities of attack and the need for self defense, came to Fallon recently and taught the women here some valuable lessons in how to recognize dangerous situations, how to avoid them and how to defend ourselves should we end up in one anyways. We heard about some heartbreaking experiences of women attacked and maliciously assaulted, a few of which are part of the Fallon family, and had it not been for Al’s training they may not be with us today. This really hit home for me… and immediately he had my full and undivided attention. No way would I want myself or anyone I know to ever go through something that horrific. I have to admit that at first it all seemed a little silly. I am a strong, independent woman, so why would I need someone telling me what I already know?
Well…Al told me a lot of things I didn’t know.
I didn’t know that I have a 75% chance of successfully stopping a rape attempt if I resist, as opposed to letting it happen in an effort to keep my life. I didn’t know that 1 in 4 women are attacked at least once during their life. Crazy, right? The odds don’t seem to be on our side. The scariest thing I learned was that 80% of attacks come from someone you know. At this point during the training, I really made a decision that I needed the tools to stop it from happening. As much as I like to think I am invincible, the statistics can’t hide the fact that I am not.
And now for the physical part. The most surprising thing I learned during this exercise is that I don’t need to be a trained martial artist to stop an attack. This was a huge relief since as I wouldn’t call myself “strong” by any means. Al and his colleague simulated full on attacks (and let me tell you, they didn’t hold back) so that we would be able to calmly execute some simple maneuvers to increase our chances of walking away unharmed. There is the Cat Move (poking an attacker’s eyes out with all ten fingers!) where an attacker has no chance of walking away without some serious eye injuries, and my personal favorite – the Leg Lift (this one is seriously straight out of an action movie). Al really did a great job here of making all of us better prepared for any situation. And I can’t speak for everyone, but for me this was incredibly empowering.
When it was all said and done, I left the room with confidence and the learning that I have the power and authority to keep myself safe. That the best defense against an attacker is awareness (put down the cell phones when you are alone, ladies). That’s when I walk with purpose and direction, I come across as someone who is not to be messed with. And most of all, that just by gaining some education I have exponentially increased the odds in my favor of being – and staying – safe at all times.
On behalf of the women at Fallon, thank you Al. What you taught us isn’t being taken lightly, and we can all fell a little better each day knowing that we have the tools now to take control of any situation.
Check out Al’s Book “Not Me!” Empowering Women and Saving Lives.