By Bruce Crane, Guest Contributor
In light of recent MTA attacks and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Brooklyn College’s Women of Color and Phi Sigma Chi Fraternity joined forces again to host a self-defense workshop on Apr. 27 in the Student Center Penthouse. Together they co-sponsored events and had a friendly fun atmosphere, making sure that last Wednesday’s event covered self-awareness, stretches, breathing, balance, heel strikes, kicks, and much more.
“We believe it is important for students to know how to defend themselves in different scenarios,” said Samantha Saint Jour, WOC’s president.
Saint Jour and the fraternity’s president, Zyeem Nazir, invited Greg Cohen of Pop Gym to give lessons for BC students. Cohen has training in Taekwondo and other martial arts.
“We have collaborated with Pop Gym before the pandemic and loved how accommodating, inclusive, and kind they were, so it was only natural that we would invite them back again,” Saint Jour said.
First, Cohen spoke of awareness and looking for the exits in any given dangerous situation, noting to participants to look for something that could be used as a weapon. He also advised students to be aware of signs that someone might be a mugger. When in trouble, he showed a “green zone,” where someone is near you but not close enough to land a punch or kick. If they step forward you would step back to keep the distance. The “red zone,” as Cohen described, is where they are close enough to land a blow.
Everyone was also instructed to turn around and yell since noise can be a surprise weapon.
“The event went great, a lot of laughs and learning, which was definitely the goal,” said Saint Jour when reflecting on the workshop.
If someone charges at you, Cohen mentioned, you can sidestep them. Everyone also practiced heel strikes against cushions using both hands to targets known as SING: solar plex, in step, nose, and groin. Twisting the hips on the second strike gives it more torque. When striking, Cohen noted, exhale in short bursts.
If someone was charging at you from behind, Cohen showed a back kick and one jumping in the air while turning, which could help you to defend yourself. Not all of these moves will work on everyone, but workshop participants enjoyed the activities.
“Amazing! Loved it. We want it to be longer next time,” said a student who did not want to share her name.
The Women of Color and Phi Sigma Chi collaboration didn’t end with last Wednesday’s event, but carried onto the following day with Battle of the Sexes, which was “a healthy debate between masculine and feminine perspectives on hot topics such as monogamy, sex, chivalry, and communication,” Saint Jour explained.