Self-defense classes teaching students the skills and confidence to defend themselves

Illustration by: Rebecca Kottke

Illustration by: Rebecca Kottke

Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the Griggs E-F conference room, Sergeant Chris Shovein hosted the semester's first self-defense class which was put on by housing and Women’s Resource and Action Center.


The class was made up of 27 students including resident advisors. The class was predominantly female which Sergeant Shovein said is quite typical.

“Generally speaking, all of the classes are about 80 to 90 percent female,” Shovein said.

This is due partly to “the young guy mindset.” The high percentage of female students attending these classes also has to do with the stigma surrounding their safety on college campuses.

“Unfortunately, these things happen more often to women, so why not put this out there and make it available,” Shovein said. “This will give them the opportunity to work on that mindset and skills so that they can be proactive in their safety.”

First years Chantell Walton and Shaian Kong were at Wednesday night’s class. Both said they decided to take the class because of the posters around school, as well as being convinced by friends.

“I’ve always wanted to go to self-defense classes, but they’re either expensive or far away,” Kong said. “But this was free and I had the time so I thought why not take this opportunity.”

Both Walton and Kong agreed that these classes not only taught them useful skills, but also the confidence and understanding to fight back.

“If somebody attacks me, I’d want to know how to get away,” Walton said.

“I wanted to learn the basics, things that you should know, can use, and how to do them properly,” Kong said.

These classes have been offered at UMD for seven years. The classes were started by Shovein after talking to RA’s about events to put on for residents.

“I am the only one who teaches these classes in our department,” Shovein said. “My personal hobby is martial arts, and has been since I was in high school. What I teach in these classes are a mix of the martial arts classes I’ve learned over the years and the skills I learned for the department.”

Officers have to take a Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) course to be apart of the squad. It was a system all cops were trained in when Shovein started. The course is standardized throughout the country and Shovein works to teach these skills to the rest of the UMDPD along with supplements from his martial art skills.

“I used to think about what techniques to teach people,” Shovein said. “Now I look at it as the opportunity to give people the courage and the confidence to protect themselves.”

Although throughout most of our lives we have been taught not fight, Shovein said that does not mean to not protect yourself. Anyone can be a victim and these skills apply to everyone.

“It’s ok to protect yourself, and I don’t think we hear that enough,” Shovein said. “People are worried about getting in trouble so they don’t defend themselves.”

The biggest takeaway Shovein hopes students will have is the mindset and willingness to survive.



CultureAddie Marzinske