KOKOMO, Ind. — There are five key principles of self-defense, according to Bradley McFarland, and the first is to avoid getting hit, injured or subdued.

The remaining four principles have been established to ensure that women are prepared and aware in case an attacker confronts them. These principles were accompanied by demonstrations led by McFarland, a career martial artist, and his wife at the Kokomo Family YMCA Saturday for a first-time public self-defense class.

S.W.A.T., which stands for Strategic Women’s Awareness Tactics, combines various forms of martial arts in a practical way for self-defense. It offers a fundamental approach to women’s self-defense and is also one of the newest programs being developed at the Kokomo YMCA.

The self-defense class is expected to open to YMCA members and the public in the fall.

“There’s always opportunities for programs (at the Kokomo YMCA) and if there’s a need in our community, we definitely want to tap into it,” said China Antoine, Director of Healthy Living at the Kokomo YMCA.

And with the S.W.A.T. program, Antoine said she hopes this form of self-defense class inspires the community to take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.

“We just really want people to be more aware of their surroundings and to be safer and give people the opportunity to learn something new and to try something different,” Antoine said.

And the program will be targeted to women only.

“We just want everyone to feel confident and safe,” said Ikeia Prince, Senior Program Director at the Kokomo YMCA. “We just want women to know that you can travel around the world, travel around the states and know that you have the skills to defend yourself, if need be.”

Saturday’s demo class, which was free and open to the public, offered tips and techniques that women will be able to implement in just a matter of minutes.

“It’s not just a fighting art,” McFarland said. “It really deals with awareness and risk assessment. With training in the S.W.A.T. program they will be able to be more aware of their surroundings, they will be able to identify factors. With training and repetition, then hopefully the confidence level will be to the point where should they, God forbid, need to defend themselves, they have the tools.”

The class was open to women age 14 and older.

For many women who attended the class, it was their first time learning self-defense tactics, but they were able to catch on easily.

“I felt like they were really simple techniques that were really effective,” said Sierra Burnell, who had never taken a self-defense class before.

And for Lisa Bryant, who has taken one self-defense course before Saturday’s S.W.A.T. demo, she’s a firm believer in the importance of protecting oneself.

“I just think self-defense is very important to just have in your arsenal just in case,” Bryant said. “It’s one of those things that you pray you never have to use but you’re glad you have it.”

Source: Kokomo Tribune, http://bit.ly/2sMiwTr

Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the Kokomo Tribune.

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