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Defending yourself can be an acquired skill

Self-defense classes teach students how to defend themselves and be more confident when danger arises.

Students who venture off campus can feel more secure by taking their safety into their own hands with self-defense tactics.

“Knowing how to effectively defend yourself in dangerous situations is really a great skill for everyone to have,” said Elisabeth Szakacs, a self-defense instructor at Syracuse University.

Szakacs has been teaching self-defense techniques to SU students for more than a decade. She is teaching two self-defense classes in the Physical Education department this fall in the Women’s Building. Approximately 80 students are enrolled in the classes, she said.

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The class consists of lectures and physical training. The students learn various self-defense maneuvers throughout the semester and also learn about things like different types of date rape drugs and signs of domestic violence, Szakacs said.

Cpl. Joe Shanley of SU’s Department of Public Safety said getting students comfortable with the level of violence in self-defense maneuvers is one of the most important aspects of the classes.

“It’s also important to get students to realize that in some situations, it’s OK to incur violence,” Shanley said. “Students, especially girls, are sometimes hesitant to harm others, even in order to defend themselves because it goes against what they’ve been taught their whole lives about being violent.”

Shanley is one of the instructors who teaches women about defending themselves against rape for SU’s Rape Aggression Defense System, a program that provides women with self-defense training.

Shanley said the program teaches women useful skills and also helps foster a relationship between students and authoritative figures, such as DPS officers, whom students can turn to if they find themselves in situations like domestic violence.

“The students learn useful skills and become a part of a community that is working together to combat violence,” Shanley said. “It’s a win-win.”

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