Self-defense and Girl Scouts potentially saving lives

Learning Krav Maga skills will hopefully combat women feeling powerless in violent situations.
Learning Krav Maga skills will hopefully combat women feeling powerless in violent situations.(WBAY Staff)
Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM CDT
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - Kicking and screaming girls on a Saturday morning at St. Mary Catholic High School in Neenah may be an uncommon sight. However, the goal of Saturday’s Fearlessly Fierce self-defense event put on by Girl Scout Gold Award hopeful Kaitlyn Powers is not a niche need.

“Today, the girls will learn about a variety of different situations and how to protect themselves,” Powers explained. “For example, how to escape, how to spot these dangerous situations before they become dangerous so you can learn the red flags of something and get out before it’s too late.”

The class on July 17 which had a morning session from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and an afternoon session from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. is Powers’ gold award project. It’s the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.

A major requirement is for applicants to put together a community building event, and Powers decided to focus on domestic violence and human trafficking - a subject matter she is passionate about.

In the United States, one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime such as beating, burning, or strangling according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or NCADV. Learning Krav Maga skills will hopefully combat women feeling powerless in violent situations such as being grabbed from behind. An attack that Fortitude Krav Maga owner and chief instructor, Joel Ellenbecker, directed the approximately 40 attendees at Saturday’s morning session on how to escape.

“The first thing we’re going to do is make some plucking hands,” Ellenbecker demonstrated by cupping his hands in a “C-shape”. “Then, we’re going to reach over our shoulder and rip down. As we do that we’re going to turn our chin towards your hands. So, it’s a pluck and then a tuck. The next thing we do is a little bit of footwork. It’s a pluck, a tuck, and then we’re going to step behind us and away from the attacker.”

The NCADV found that violence toward women from someone they are in a relationship with is most common between the ages of 18 and 24. This training is being taught before that time period so they can be prepared, similar to how the Girl Scouts can get you ready to make a difference, according to 16-year troop leader Deb Laibly.

“Keep girls in Girl Scouts,” Laibly emphasized. “So that they actually learn to think about other people because as a teenager you become very introspective and it’s good as a teenager to remember that there are lots of people that need help that are out in your community.”

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