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Women kick butt

You're a woman walking home alone late at night and you're feeling spooked out. What do you do?

Many women find themselves in this same situation around the University each night. In an effort to help women feel more comfortable in such potentially dangerous situations, the University Women's Center is sponsoring a new self-defense course set to begin Sept. 18. The first portion of the 15-hour course will consist of assertiveness and physical-technique training while the latter portion will allow participants to practice their new self-defense moves on an actual model.

"There are a lot of reasons to take this course, but one of the most satisfying parts is to be able to punch this big guy you might otherwise have been scared of," said Claire Kaplan, sexual assault education coordinator at the University Women's Center. Kaplan's office and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency are co-sponsoring the course.

The classes are offered at least once every year and are similar to a course sponsored by the University Police department. The University's class is slightly longer - 15 hours - while the Police course takes only 12.

"We always offer one or two a year but it's not always easy to do. This year we were lucky and were able to get the right kind of space in the Student Activities Building," Kaplan said.

Kaplan, who has been a self-defense instructor for 10 years, said she feels there is always a demand around Grounds for such courses, especially at the beginning of the school year.

"When students, especially first-year students, come for orientation, they have a heightened sense of caution and safety," Kaplan said.

She explained the course educates women in expanding their options in the event of an assault. Participants will learn how to disable their assailant in order to get away quickly. But Kaplan said one of the most important aspects of the course is assertiveness training, which can help build women's self-confidence in risky situations.

Kaplan stresses her belief in the effectiveness of the course both inside the University and in the Charlottesville community. "These are important tools for any woman to have. They find a new sense of one's self as a human being," she explained.

The classes will be offered Sept. 18, 19, 25, 27 and October 2 for a fee of $25. An additional course will begin on Oct. 10 to accommodate increased demand.

Compiled by Christa Dierksheide

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