Coming to residents' defense

It didn't take long for Melissa Rosen to learn how to fight off a would-be mugger who approached and tried to assault her.

Rosen yelled “no,” kicked the assailant in the groin and fought him off during a basic self-defense workshop Sunday at the Glendale YMCA.

“The idea of knowing how to defend yourself .?.?. it's a good skill to have,” said Rosen, a Hollywood resident. “It's definitely useful for any woman. We are taught to be submissive. It's a great way to break down that barrier.”

About 10 people signed up for the R-A-W Power program, a step-by-step self-defense class that covers physical defense techniques against a frontal attack.

Self-defense instructors Meredith Gold and her husband, Michael Beltzer, taught the class as they explained how physical and verbal defenses can help stop an assault.

“It's about empowerment and the experience of showing themselves what they are willing to do to save their life,” Gold said.

Beltzer played the role of a mock assailant. He wore a full padded suit and helmet.

Students took part in warm-up drills before learning about different defense techniques.

Brea resident Chethan Boddula stepped forward and kicked his knees up to stretch his legs. It was his first time taking a self-defense class.

“I like the whole idea of empowerment,” he said. “Not just in a situation to defend myself from a mugger. It's an incentive to get empowered in other areas of life.”

Boddula hoped the class would act as a catalyst to help him exercise more, develop better eating habits and build more confidence, he said.

The class taught students reaction techniques, including the eye strike and blocking with the forearm.

Students practiced on the assailant one-by-one as he approached them in an attempt to grab and harm.

Dillan Agostinelli of Studio City kicked the assailant in the groin, stuck his fingers in his eyes and blocked his arms in order to avoid being grabbed.

“I like it that I can defend myself and feel prepared it anything comes up,” the 15-year-old said. “If it ever comes down to it, I can defend myself.”

As students learned to develop more defense techniques and practiced role playing with the assailant, Gold introduced verbal strategies.

She asked them to project loudly and use command words, such as “go away,” “move back” or “stop,” to bring attention to themselves and their surroundings.

Students practiced using their words with two mock assailants.

Police trainer Rodolfo Valdes played the role of another assailant.

Valdes, a martial artist who was visiting from Cordoba, Argentina, to learn more about self-defense, came to provide his support to Gold and Beltzer and take new self-defense techniques back to his country.

“My main goal is to mix martial arts training to empower people, especially women in Argentina,” Valdes said.

Valdes has been training police agents and detectives in Argentina, he said, adding that he hopes to help people defend themselves from increasing knife attacks in Cordoba.


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