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November 20. 2013 2:05AM

Safety through self-defense taught in Manchester

MANCHESTER — Debbie Brown launched herself into the punching bag held by an instructor during Tuesday night's women's safety and self-defense class hosted by the Manchester Police Department.

She was a flurry of punches, kicks, elbows and knees. In her mind, the Manchester woman said, she was being attacked.

"I've never physically been attacked, thank goodness," Brown said. "But you've got to be prepared, right?"

Tuesday's session was so popular — about 100 women participated — that the Police Department had to turn away people trying to register with the promise that another class would be held early next year, said police Lt. Maureen Tessier, the department's spokeswoman.

"Because of the overwhelming response we got from people who were disappointed they couldn't make it this time," another class will be scheduled, she said.

The two-part class featured safety tips in one section and self-defense taught by The Training Session in the other.

The safety portion, hosted by Community Policing Officer Paul Rondeau, gave women several tips, including how to avoid a robbery attempt, what to do should they be the victim of domestic violence and how to make their cars and homes safer.

One example involved long-handled purses. Fifteen years ago, he said, officers would advise women to put the straps around their necks to thwart a would-be purse snatcher. No more, as the technique could inadvertently lead to a woman being wrestled to the ground by her neck, he said. Instead, purse handles should be held draped over a shoulder.

"There's nothing in here that is more important than your health and safety," Rondeau said, holding up a purse.

He also suggested keeping keys and money outside a purse to limit how much a purse snatcher could get.

The self-defense portion showed women techniques they can use quickly to ward off an attacker.

"I love to help women do this and start feeling better about themselves," said Christina Dow, co-owner of the Training Session, a Manchester self-defense and martial arts school. "We're here to learn about five or six moves — enough to get you away and get out of there."

Brown said she was happy she came to the session.

"It's extremely helpful," she said. "It's wonderful that they put this class together."

tbuckland@unionleader.com


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