“Keep an offensive mindset” and “always have a plan” were two of the main points instructor Eric Hensley, a master in martial arts, stressed to participants in the Gun Defense Workshop at Premier Martial Arts on Saturday.
With participants gathered in a circle on the floor, Hensley warmed up with Krav Maga martial arts techniques taught in the classes offered at the facility.
“When something happens, everyone automatically thinks, ‘call 911,’ and that is still what you do first if you have time,” he said. “But did you know that the average nationwide response time for police is 10 minutes? That’s average. Response times may vary from four minutes to one hour – even if you consider the shortest is four minutes, a lot can happen in that time. This tells you to have a plan. It’s largely up to us to protect ourselves.”
He cited the recent murder of an elderly Georgia couple where the man’s head was decapitated.
“Some people think a restraining order stops crime, but it doesn’t,” he said. “Anticipating how you would react and knowing how to follow through in varying circumstances sometimes can stop a person from going through with his intentions.”
The eight participants, some who had prior training and some who did not, formed partners to do several drills, including: shoulder tag, with the intended victims’ arms up and them defending with the arms; the intended victims on their backs kicking, with their heads and hands up, spinning around with their feet always facing their attackers; and the intended victims standing in front of their attackers, with their arms in front and their heads in and up, lunging forward and back by pushing off with their back foot and attacking with opposite hands.
“If you find yourself knocked down, use your feet to kick,” he said. “Slide around, keeping him away with your feet. Keep your head up.”
Hensley told them that the elbow is their personal piece of pipe.
“Your hand is easily hurt,” he said. “With your left foot forward, you can hit with your rear elbow. You pick the places you use your arm and elbow. Also, (use) your knee. You can quickly bend the person’s head over and shove your knee into the chest.
‘‘How hard do you have to hit to defend yourself? That depends on several factors, including where you hit. Going for the chin or groin will be more effective.”
Using the same partners and rubber guns, he then had them practice ways to defend themselves against an attacker who a gun.
“If someone has a gun pointed at you and wants to rob you, obviously you give him what he wants,” he said. “Otherwise, if he has a gun to your chest in a low area and your hands are up or out, you can push down quickly and hard with your left hand on his hand with the gun and hit him behind the head. Or reach in quickly underneath the gun and rip it off him. If the gun is to your head, slide in and hit upward, knocking the gun away and pushing and hitting him hard, stunning him to the point you can defend yourself. Make sure the gun is never facing you.”
This led to the second main point. Before you reach a stage where you have a gun pointed at you and your hands up, you need to think a little.
“If you’re going to defend yourself, you need to have a plan,” he said. “If you just engage someone with a gun, there’s a good chance you’ll get shot. Picture yourself at a fast food restaurant or a home invasion while you’re home. Have a plan and follow through. You’re less likely to panic.”
Hensley said the techniques shown are far from easy and require practice.
“Training takes time. Learn the techniques and practice under stress,” he said.
Melissa Crosby said she took the class because her kids are in martial arts and she wanted to become more familiar with what they do.
“Also, I wanted to gain information and learn more as far as my own protection,” she said.
Aaron Hensley, Eric’s son and owner of Premier Martial Arts, said he is working on offering more self-defense classes in the future.