If you’ve ever unsafe during a run — or read disturbing stories of victims — then you know that it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe on runs, especially if you’re running alone or at night. A taekwondo instructor and TerraLoco in Rochester partnered up to host a free self-defense class for local runners. Dozens of women participated in the 60-minute class, learning new skills they hope they never have to use.
The class was led by Jim Parry who teaches taekwondo at Martial Arts Fitness in Rochester and its affiliate in Stewartville.
"It's just a very informal way to get together and talk about ways to be safe when we're out exercising and practice those skills that can be good for us and keep us out of danger," said Parry.
Parry referenced an assault survivor during the class who went to use the restroom in a public park in Seattle last spring and was attacked.
"She screamed and yelled and swore at the guy, and was kicking and clawing and was biting anything she could get. She didn't know any technical moves or anything fancy, she just knew that she had to fight for her life, and that's what she did," said Parry.
This has many women wondering what they would do if they found themselves in a violent situation while out getting exercise.
Parry says the fear of potential danger should not stop runners from doing what they love, but there are some things you should know before heading out.
"One, if they're able to exercise with a buddy, that's always best. Two, if they're not able to exercise with a buddy, they should always let someone at home know where they're going to be and when they plan on being back. And three, they should be aware of their surroundings when they're out, and take a class to defend themselves, if that need would rise."
Research suggests 43 percent of women experience sexual harassment while running compared to 4 percent of men, according to a Runner's World survey.
"If you have to defend yourself, it's never that you're not going to get hurt. The point is you can't let the person get control of your body so that you can turn around and run and get the help that you need," he said.
The next self-defense class will be held at TerraLoco on April 27 at 7:15 pm. RSVP's can be made on Eventbrite.