Self-defense and what it’s worth


Instructor Austin Stahl teaches a breakaway technique to two students. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

There are certain skill sets deemed to be more valuable than others. There are also certain skill sets that save lives. The art of self-defense falls under both.

Chico State provides emergency blue light phones throughout campus and night shuttles that drive around campus offering rides home. Additionally, every student is required to complete an online course at the beginning of each semester to educate them on responsible drinking, safe sex and sexual harassment.

Self-defense classes also promote the well-being of students by providing self-defense classes. These classes can be taken for an entire semester and count as unit credits.

The class mainly consists of demonstrating and teaching defense techniques, such as: forward and backward shoulder rolls, which help protect your spine when rolling on the floor, effectively falling, to protect your face, and a range of escape exercises.

Nelson Slen leading warm-up at the beginning of the self-defense class. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

“I started in this class as a student, and that was in the fall of 2010. I started helping out as a teacher assistant in the fall of 2011. So, counting my years as a TA and actually teaching this class it’s been about eight years,” head instructor Andrew Stahl said. “For the most part, I teach here; jiu-jitsu classes, and also at the Nobuki Kon Dojo I teach tai chi, judo, kickboxing and ju-jitsu.”

Stahl has two assistant instructors under his wing, one instructor Spencer Monroe, a former student of Stahl in the same class during his freshman year of college.

Monroe started learning martial arts and self-defense at Chico State; he loved the class so much that he talked to Stahl about assisting him at the Dojo and with the class.

Three years later, Monroe still loves the class and has retained his passion for teaching.

Austin Stahl demonstrating escape moves with Nelson Slen. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

Nelson Slen, Stahl’s second assistant, has been a longtime friend of Stahl and was dragged to the Dojo the week Slen moved to Chico; which was a little over three years ago. Slen had no prior experience in martial arts until he moved here, but Stahl showed him the ropes and eventually brought him on board, increasing the team of two up to three.

Instructors Nelson Slen, Spencer Monroe and Austin Stahl (from left to right) at the front of their self-defense class. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

“The first couple of days of class we teach risk escapes because those are some of the most important things if you don’t want to go somewhere,” instructor Monroe said. “It’s about making sure you can stand up for yourself when before you might not have been able to, and get yourself out of bad situations.”

For most students, this class is their first exposure to self-defense and martial arts. While various moves seem difficult or awkward at first, with correct instruction and practice students became increasingly comfortable with differing exercises and breakaways.

Austin Stahl helping out a student with their falling defense position. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

“I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the class. I just came in wanting to learn self-defense, a little bit of grappling, basic punch moves and kick moves,” self-defense student Chad Young said.

Young also mentioned that, in his opinion, the most valuable thing he learned was the proper way to fall. If someone were to knock you down it is very important to know what to do in terms of protecting yourself from injury.

“There’s a lot of bad people out there and I really want to defend myself if one of them ever tries to take advantage,” Young said.

Spencer Monroe observes as Austin Stahl demonstrates defense position with Nelson Slen. Photo credit: Lucero Del Rayo-Nava

It is better to be safe than sorry. One can never tell when a skill like self-defense will come into play. Having the knowledge and a plan of action in certain situations at hand is only beneficial.

“Would you rather learn martial arts after you become the victim or before you become the victim?” instructor Slen said.

Karina Cope can be reached at [email protected] or @KarinaICope on Twitter.