Learning self-defense at Natick
April 6, 2012
Workers at Natick Soldier Systems Center are now able to take self-defense classes during their lunch break every Thursday, thanks to Casey Burns. Burns, a Natick employee who earned his black belt in Hap Ki Do, teaches the six-week course.
The course provides techniques that could be used when one is grabbed or attacked, including identifying vulnerable target areas, using body parts as weapons, and figuring out ways to escape and counter-attack in various situations.
"I think someone should take a self-defense course to become more confident," Burns said. "In the event that there were no other options but to become physical, then that person would have hopefully learned some ways to escape, protect themselves from attack and, if necessary, to stop an attack by either controlling the attacker or causing that person some degree of harm."
The course involves learning about pressure points that a defender can use, such as the shoulder, elbow and solar plexus. There are also different techniques that lock different joints in order to control an attacker.
"I took the course because I was curious about martial arts, to get some tips that could provide an advantage in self-defense, and because my young son has started taking karate and I figured I need to have a few tricks up my sleeve," Tim Benson said.
Being in peak physical condition is not necessary for this course, which is not overly strenuous. People are not thrown around, and Burns believes it is a good course for everyone to take to learn the basics.
"Someone taking this course should expect to learn how to react to an attack, to escape an attack and to counter that attack," Burns said. "By attack I mean if a person were to grab you (your wrist, your collar, your sleeve), to choke you (from the front, the rear or a headlock) or punch/kick you."
Due to moving with the Navy, Burns never wanted to start his own club, but he did offer self- defense classes to whomever was interested. His first self-defense class began in 1994, when he taught a group of sailors at Joint Maritime Facility, St Mawgan, UK.
Taking self-defense can, in the event of a threat or attack, make certain basic skills second-nature. Actually being able to feel and understand what an attack might be like can help a person prepare for that unlikely event to happen.
"It is important to realize what level of pain you are causing," Burns said. "You need to see (and feel) that you have control, and that means causing just enough pain to know that by applying even more pressure, the situation is controlled."
The self-defense course could be the first of many classes that will be offered to NSSC employees. Courses like this offer opportunities to interested participants like Lauren Pecukonis and Benson.
"I have wanted to take a self-defense course for a while," said Pecukonis, "and having it offered here, for free, during lunch could not have been more convenient."
The self-defense course was created by and for people of the Natick workforce. This course was conducted in a no-pressure environment, besides the painful pressure points, of course.
"I would recommend this class to anyone who has a need or interest in being better prepared to defend themselves," Benson said. "It was fun and interesting, and hopefully useful if ever needed."
The self-defense course is scheduled to have at least two more six-week sessions; the next round of classes begins April 26. Those interested should contact Casey Burns. Should students in the basic courses desire to gain more experience, Burns is also open to the idea of creating a more advanced course.