At Columbus State Community College, a college police training room has been transformed into a self-defense classroom of sorts that’s open to the entire campus.
As the new semester got underway in January, the college’s police department and its department of college recreation and wellness began offering a weekly self-defense program free to everyone. There’s no attendance requirement and participants can take part for a week, a month, or all year.
The program is designed for someone who has little or no self-defense training. The initial response was so positive that a third weekly session was just added to meet demand.
“I’ve been wanting to offer a self-defense program for the college community for some time,” says Police Chief Sean Asbury. “When one of my officers and a colleague from recreation and wellness both approached me with their plan, I signed on immediately.”
Officer Sean Foster, 28, and wellness specialist Jason Apt, 38, are teaching the weekly classes together. Both men are proficient in various forms of martial arts and are certified trainers. Planning began last year so the program would be ready to roll out this year.
“The classes not only teach important self-defense skills, but they build a person’s confidence, too,” says Foster, who’s certified through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. He’s the defensive tactics instructor for the department, which he joined in 2011.
Foster is a longtime self-defense proponent and has a passion for teaching people how to defend themselves. In his spare time, he trains for amateur mixed martial arts.
Foster and co-instructor Apt both have purple belts in Brazilian jujitsu. Apt is a graduate of Columbus State’s sports fitness management program. He’s currently working on a master’s degree in exercise science.
“While we’ll talk about and demonstrate fundamentals of self-defense at each session,” says Apt, “most of the time will be spent working with participants to help them learn the self-defense moves themselves. A short warmup will be followed by combination of fitness training and self-defense practice.”
Something for everyone
To accommodate different schedules, the free training is offered three times a week, each during a different time period: once in the morning, once during the lunch hour and once after work.
Staff member Phyllis Gorman, 59, takes part in the Thursday morning class. The assistant director of professional development and retention says, “We’re at a point in the world where there are a lot of folks thinking about wanting to take care of themselves, and I want to do that for myself. And I want to encourage other women to be thinking about this issue of self-defense.”
William White, Jr., 53, praised the program. As a sports exercise and studies adjunct professor, he participated to simply maintain his fitness regimen.
“They will encourage you to work at your own level and they take into consideration that everyone has a different level of fitness, so it went really well,” he says.