Columbia County Sheriff's Department investigators Stephanie Carani and Jim Marsh demonstrate how a woman can free herself from the grip of an assailant.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Stephanie Carani stood all of 5-foot-1 against an attacker towering at least a foot over her.
Or that was the scene the investigator set at Lakeside High School on Tuesday as she and three other officers from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office led more than 70 students and county residents in the class titled Taking a Kick Out of Violence: A Self-Defense Session.
The session was all the idea of 16-year-old Sana Hashmi as a Family Career and Community Leaders of America community service project. Last year, Sana focused her Students Taking On Action for Recognition project on fitness awareness. This time, she hopes to head to the national competition with her community involved violence prevention project.
"Usually we do it schoolwide. But this year, I had the idea to instead of doing door-decorating contests, I wanted to reach out into the community and directly prevent (violence)," Sana said. "I thought this was the most direct way to stop the violence in our community."
Sana, a sophomore, recruited certified self-defense instructors to present a free seminar to a maximum of 75 people - showing tips on how to identify and manage anger and conflicts and, the audience's favorite, physical techniques to prevent or curtail violence.
"It is very important for people to know self-defense," said Lt. Patricia Champion of the sheriff's office Community Services Division. "Even one or two techniques, if they are done the correct way, may either stop a crime or stop a criminal from committing a crime against a person."
As the mostly female audience chose partners, Carani and her demonstration partner, Capt. Jim March, demonstrated simple techniques to get away from an attacker in various situation including if the attacker has a hold on arms, hair or shirt.
"The best way to stay out of a situation is to know how to get away from it in the first place," Carani said. "You have got to know what is going on around you."
As Carani and March demonstrated, the audience practiced some of the safer moves on each other, like identifying and pressing pressure points and distraction techniques, which can be used in a variety of situations.
In addition to staying away from situations your mother would kill you for, Carani said be a "grizzly."
"If you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly bear," Carani said. "Fight with all you have got. You all could be fighting for your lives."
Sana and the sheriff's office provided information on violence, including warning signs and resources.
Sana carefully documented the event on film and will hopefully be seeing gold again this year at the FCCLA's national STAR events competition in Philadelphia this summer.
"I am pretty confident I will get to nationals again this year," Sana said.
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