FORT SILL, Okla.--Anyone who even just goes for a 15-minute walk can speak of the healthful benefits of exercise, but this benefit doesn't hold a candle to learning techniques that may save your life should you find yourself confronted by some of life's less than savory characters.

This week the Cannoneer looks at Self-Defense 101, a free, dual benefit workout in the Fit 5 feature. Thomas Felder, a certified ninth degree red belt and founder of the Tensho Goju martial arts system teaches his self-defense techniques in a low- to medium-intensity workout Fridays from 11:40 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. in the mezzanine area above Honeycutt Fitness Center gym.

Felder speaks from experience on the ability to thwart an attacker with the same techniques as he's used them many times against aggressors facing him with many different weapons. In addition to teaching students, he may offer up his toned abdominal area for students to practice punches and kicks so they learn to hit through an attacker instead of at them.

For more information, e-mail Felder at or call 583-8580.

Cannoneer: What kind of workout can people expect who attend Self-Defense 101'
Felder: Each class is highly motivated; we start off with some stretching, then we go into drills.

I try to keep things lively so people will enjoy learning how to defend themselves. I may bring props in such as rubber weapons so people can get a better understanding of what they're defending against and what they are learning the techniques for.

Drilling features a combination of upper body and lower body extremities with the hand and leg techniques of martial arts. When you're throwing straight punches and chops, that's a rigorous workout involving arm extensions and muscles. I

also teach leg kicks: front, back, side and crescent kicks that condition and develop those muscle groups as well. Students learn to respond to two attacks per session such as responding to a front choke and using a series of movements to get out of that attack. They may learn some hip rotation movements, and hand and footwork to manipulate around the attacker.

We'll spend 10 to 15 minutes of drilling working the hand techniques, then doing the manipulation drill in what I call my three-phase positioning. Through this students will learn to redirect the approach of the attacker and counter the attacker by getting off to the side, front or the rear to get a better angle to strike back. That takes another 15 minutes of drilling.

We then spend the remainder of the time combining the various techniques, rehearsing the movements and applying what has been learned in a final drill.

Cannoneer: Is this class for people of all fitness levels or an advanced class'
Felder: This teaching applies to people of all fitness levels; I've even taught it to physically-impaired people giving them the skills to defend themselves. Being physically fit is most helpful in applying defensive tactics as increased endurance will help you to apply the techniques and prevail. However, regardless of your fitness level, the more assertive and confident you are the more likely an attacker will leave you alone.

Cannoneer: What is your fitness teaching background, and why do you lead this class'
Felder: I am a certified ninth degree red belt in Tensho Goju martial arts. I've taught martial arts schools, workshops and seminars for more than 27 years. It's important to me to pass this on because I was bullied by others early in my life. My martial arts training began when I was 8 years old. My first instructor realized I couldn't pay, but he told me to come in anyhow because he could see I was serious and wanted to learn what he would teach me. The same thing he did for me, to bless me, I want to provide to others and bless them. I volunteer my time and offer this free instruction to show my support and appreciation for Soldiers, civilian employees, retired service members and their families. All I ask is people come out with a willingness to learn and have fun doing it.

Cannoneer: If there was one thing you'd want to share with people concerning this class what would that be'
Felder: I teach my three-phase positioning; if they learn just this concept they will be well adept at defending themselves on the street from most situations. This process begins with a sidestep movement, a lateral movement and a crossover technique. Learning those can get most people away from an attacker intent on an assault. Learn these three moves, and they will be all right.

Cannoneer: Anything else you'd care to add'
Felder: The class is realistic training so no special uniform is required. Besides, an attacker will not wait for you to change into another garment prior to an attack.