Thursday, May 23

Free self-defense class teaches Bruins to fend off aggressors

Wooden Center instructor Paul McCarthy throws a jab at a student during a self-defense class held on the intramural fields.
Courtesy of PAUL McCARTHY

Wooden Center instructor Paul McCarthy throws a jab at a student during a self-defense class held on the intramural fields.
Courtesy of PAUL McCARTHY

Kian Ansari / Daily Bruin

Wrap with the legs. Gauge the eyes. Punch the throat. Escape.

Pinned on his back in a full mount by his sparring partner, Paul McCarthy forced himself out of a hold with a quick twist of the legs and swing of the elbows.

McCarthy, the instructional programs coordinator at UCLA, demonstrated this technique Wednesday as a part of a self-defense class taught at the John Wooden Center.

The free class is offered at the Yates Gymnasium in the Wooden Center every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and is open to all UCLA students.

McCarthy created the class this quarter and plans to offer it again in the spring.

McCarthy said he hopes the class will make students more prepared to fend off an aggressor. He cited several sexual assaults reported on campus this year as an example of the need for self-defense tactics.

“The main purpose of the self-defense (class) is to be able to train students, faculty and staff to protect themselves from sexual assault,” McCarthy said.

As a graduate student at Indiana University, he also taught programs in student protection against sexual assault.

Students in the class learn self-defense tactics of various martial arts styles from McCarthy, who has a black belt in both hapkido and taekwondo. McCarthy was inspired to learn martial arts by the movie “Karate Kid.” His trainer is currently Guro Dan Inosanto, an authorized instructor of Bruce Lee’s martial arts discipline.

McCarthy teaches 14 different styles of martial arts in the class because he believes all disciplines have something to offer.

Along with McCarthy, Lance Wisdom, a sixth-degree black belt, assists in helping students create a foundation for martial arts and self-defense.

“What we want our students to take from the class is a greater understanding of their situational awareness. A proper mindset will give them composure under pressure and then they can act with decisiveness with action,” Wisdom said. “These can be applied to almost everything in a student’s life.”

Students learn from hands-on practice. After quick demonstrations of each technique by instructors, students pair up and imitate the tactics on a partner.

Of the 25 students in the class, most have had no prior training in martial arts and are there to learn basic self-defense methods as well as to utilize the class as a beginner’s course in martial arts.

Andrew Grant, a law student, said he is using this class to help himself establish the fundamental stances in martial arts.

“I figured the self-defense class would be a good introduction to martial arts, as well as provide a good mix in my workout,” Grant said. “I get a basic foundation on how to stand and what to do.”

The class is paid for through the instructional program budget in the UCLA Recreational Department, keeping it free for those who sign up at least through next spring. Fees may be introduced in future quarters, McCarthy said.

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