Umpqua Survival offers self-defense and situational awareness class

“Most of the public is lacking in situational awareness,” claims Mark Dowdy, our instructor. “It is more important than learning how to defend yourself.”

Most people, he explains, are in what is defined as the white zone: totally zoned out. We are daydreaming, staring at our phones and just generally unaware of potential dangers in our environment.

Where we should be is in the yellow zone: a state of relaxed awareness, where we can still enjoy the present moment while remaining in tune with what is going on in the periphery.

In this two-hour self-defense and situational awareness class, presented by Umpqua Survival, we learn a variety of ways to remain aware of potential threats and how to get out of dangerous situations (such as muggings, rape and car jackings).

Dowdy, our instructor, is a certified NRA instructor with over 17 years of experience and a former Marine with a background in law enforcement and mixed martial arts.

We learn several helpful tips from him, several of which could be life-saving. One of his most important pieces of advice is to never, ever let someone take you to another location.

“If they want to take you somewhere else, it is because they aren’t comfortable doing whatever they want to do to you right then and there,” he said.

He recommends to “fight or flee.” There is nothing wrong with running away, he says. Just whatever you do, don’t freeze.

Some of his other tips include:

  • In restaurants and public settings, always be aware of the exits and sit near them
  • Don’t be distracted by electronics
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • When approaching your vehicle, have your keys in your hand and your dominant hand free
  • When jogging, travel with a dog or partner
  • Jog in daylight hours only and change up your routine
  • Don’t jog near strangers in groups

In attendance are myself and a friend, a dad and his young son and an aunt with her niece, who is getting ready to go to college in the fall.

“I wanted her to have some information to take with her, to help her if she got into a situation where she needed to protect herself,” Tanya Phillips said.

During the second part of the class, we each practiced with the instructor, and on each other, a variety of moves on how to get out of common dangerous situations. For example, we learned what to do if someone is choking you against a wall or has you pinned on the floor.

Dowdy reiterated that all of the moves should be practiced repeatedly so that you will remember what to do in a moment of extreme stress and fear and so you will do the moves correctly. He recommended a couple martial arts gyms in town as excellent ways of learning effective self-defense methods.

Umpqua Survival offers this class periodically, and I would highly recommend it for absolutely everyone. And remember, never let somebody take you to another location, and never give up!

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