Women's self-defense kicks into high gear at SJSU and at the IMC Academy

by Feb 22, 2012 3:10 pm

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IMC Academy participants engage in a boxing workout class Wednesday evening. The women’s self-defense class is the most popular workout at the gym. Photo by Sierra Duren / Spartan Daily

Pink boxing gloves litter the gymnasium floor as students slip off their shoes and step on the mat, waiting for the instructor to pick a song to play for the first kickboxing workout of the evening. 

"Alright ladies, I can tell you all had a good weekend, but its time to get back to work," said Arash Dibazar, IMC academy instructor and founder.

IMC Academy, located off of Lincoln Avenue and Curtner Avenue, is a martial arts school that offers a variety of martial arts classes for adults and kids, but is mostly popular for its women's classes.

These classes include yoga, pilates and fitness, as well as co-ed classes for kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do and Panjo, a class specially designed by Dibazar that focuses on self-defense "in its raw form," as stated on the academy's website.

Written on the wall of the gymnasium is "It's all in the state of mind," reflecting Dibazar's approach on self-defense.

"You can have a gun, you can have a sword, but if you don't have the confidence to use it, to defend yourself,"  Dibazar said. "It doesn't matter what weapon you have."

"It's about feeling good, and empowering women to feel confident and sexy, while integrating the idea that as women, we have to defend ourselves," said Tracey Quesenberry, senior nutritional science major, who has been attending IMC Academy for two years.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Netowrk (RAINN.org), women on college campuses are four times more likely to be raped than girls and women in different stages of life.

The website also reports that one in every six American women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

Gong Chen, instructor for the Basic Self-Defense class on campus, says that self-defense should be integrated into students' curriculum.

"Self-defense should be part of your life and part of your education," Chen said. "It's not something you can learn in a couple hours. It’s a science."

Chen's self-defense class focuses on the skill in two perspectives: physical and mental skills, according to the class syllabus.

The syllabus lists physical skill sets involving Thai boxing, close self-defense, floor defense, grabs and throws and stick, gun and knife attacks.

The mental skills, Chen said, feature understanding criminals and crimes, prevention, life-threatening factors, legal rights and the rational of self-defense.

"Crime is real, it's a part of society," Chen said. "The reality is that every person has an equal chance of being a victim."

Two of Chen's students, senior kinesiology majors Whitney Harmonson and Michelle Nunez, said knowing even a few simple moves makes them feel a little safer while on campus especially at night.

"There have been a lot of incidents on campus, and it gives you peace of mind knowing you can defend yourself," Harmonson said.

In both Chen and Dibazar's classes, mentality plays a huge part in learning how to protect yourself, which is why Dibazar's main focus is on building confidence for his students. 

"When you look at a psychology of a criminal, you notice that they prey on victims," Dibazar said. "By people feeling better about themselves, more confident, like they're actually worth it — all of that transfers to self-defense."

Dibazar said self-defense is like, "an instruction to the book of life."

"We have these bodies that can be damaged and hurt, and here are some laws and rules to protect them," he said.

Chen also gives lectures on campus to promote self-defense to fraternities and sororities, in the dormitories as well as for faculty and staff.

He said he is the only instructor in the U.S. with a doctorate in self-defense and headlines the campaign to promote self-defense into the curriculum for middle and high schools in California.

"It doesn't help you get money or get a job or get a house or car — it protects your life," Chen said. "Without your life, you don't have anything."

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