The principles of self-defense

MMA fighter teaches community women to protect themselves

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Anna C.K. Smith / The Torch
Charlotte Coons helps Amanda Kircher with a defensive move. Coons, a music student at LCC, volunteers at Checkered Past events and practices Muay Thai at Bigfoot Gym.

As about 40 women wearing shirts with “Break Jaws, Not Laws” printed on the back walked into the Willamalane indoor tennis courts, mixed martial arts fighter Jimmy Jennett was preparing his team.

The seminar was held at Willamalane Recreation Center on Saturday, May 12. With attendees ranging from the ages of 4 to 64, Jennett’s team of six martial artists set out with the goal of arming these women with the skills and techniques of self-defense.

“We want to increase their chances of being safe in other public situations,” Jennett said of the “Free Women’s Self-Defense Seminar.”

Anna C.K. Smith / The Torch
Niikola Bennett and Angie Bartow practice escaping chokeholds among other defensive maneuvers at the women’s self-defense clinic held in memory of Marissa Nevills. Nevillis was a Eugene woman who was stabbed to death in June after a man broke into her home.

Checkered Past is a non-profit organization founded by Jennett to help at-risk youth by aiming to “develop constructive values and principles.” Jennett — a recovering addict currently filming a documentary about his work — and his team travel between schools and prisons to share their experiences with drugs and crime, hoping to “steer kids away from that kind of life early,” Jennett said.

Charlotte Coons, a music student at Lane Community College, thinks the most important technique of self-defense is being able to stay calm.

“Breathing, and not panicking, because that is when you are in the most danger,” Coons said.

Although most people were there to learn about self-defense, Eugene resident Sandi was there to pass a legacy of self-defense onto future generations.

“I want to learn to protect myself and also be able to help my granddaughters,” Sandi said.