Bay Ridge women practice self-defense

November 1, 2011 Heather Chin
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For two hours on Tuesday, October 25, over 50 women repeatedlygrabbed, twisted, punched, elbowed, kicked and poked at each otherinside the cafeteria at the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults;afterwards, they came away feeling a little more empowered andconfident, if a bit bruised.

That is because they were practicing self-defense moves taught tothem by community activist and martial arts expert Ron Galluccio,who was recruited by Councilmember Vincent Gentile to demonstrate afew basic skills to residents who are on edge after an ongoingstring of sexual attacks on women in Sunset Park, Park Slope andBay Ridge.

My advice is practical, not pleasant, said Galluccio to thesemicircle of daughters, moms, sisters, co-workers and friends.I’m here to give perspective on how to make the best possiblechoices in bad scenarios.

The class consisted of five techniques to handle at least as manyscenarios, such as a wrist grab, shirt grab, straight arm grab andchoke hold. Defense moves included the palm-heel thrust, stickingyour finger in his eyes, and pulling back the thumb and twistinghis arm then pushing down hard to cause pain and punch or kick himin the head. There was even a demonstration on how quickly todisarm an attacker wielding a gun or knife.

Lutheran Medical Center also provided free rape whistles to beused to call for help in case of attack.

I came with my daughters, who are 17 and 23, said Ridge mom JoannDelpin. It’s important in general, but especially now with theattacks. [My daughters] are always out alone at school and cominghome, and I just want for them to be aware.

Throughout it all, Galluccio repeatedly reminded everyone thatduring an attack, you should not get squeamish and to remember thatthe goal is to get home safely so it is your responsibility to hurthim before he hurts you.

I don’t know how I would react in real life, because there’s toomuch happening, said Laura Syracuse. But I think if I practice itenough, it will become second nature. That’s the point.

On how practicing the moves made her feel, Linda Rossel describedit as powerful, like I knew I’d be able to get away. JennieMorisi, 70, agreed, noting that she came to learn the idea ofprotecting myself because you don’t think you can do it, but youcan.

Other tips included to call a friend to say you’re on your way, towear a hat to look less attractive, to scream Fire instead ofHelp, to carry a weapon (i.e. keys and eyeglass cases) but not anobvious one (i.e. knives), to kick cars and break car windows toset off their alarms if you’re being chased on a deserted street,to run down the middle of the street in a familiar direction to getpeople to stop, and to say No when ordered to follow him becauseit will buy you time to fight back and get away.

The next free self-defense class in Bay Ridge will be held onMonday, November 7, at the Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym at 760313th Avenue. For more information on this event or how to sign upfor classes with Galluccio, call Gentile’s office at718-748-5200.

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