Class offers advanced defense training

Posted: January 8, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — After teaching women basic self-defense strategies and techniques for years, the Winchester Police Department is ready to take that training to the next level.

The basic class, which has been offered since the 1990s, is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 15 and is full. But at 6 p.m. on Jan. 22, the department will offer its first advanced class.

The two-hour advanced class provides an opportunity for women who want to practice full-contact self-defense techniques. It will be held in a room with a matted floor, and participants will square off against would-be assailants wearing protective padding.

“We definitely started to see a demand for this class,” said Lauren Cummings, spokesperson for the WPD. “This class is all hands-on, showing women how to defend themselves and the different techniques.”

The class is open to females age 14 and older who live in Winchester, Frederick or Clarke counties. Those under 18 must have parental consent to participate.

The Laurel Center, which supports victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the region, is assisting city police with registration and helps with the classes.

Alison Hyman, the center’s sexual assault victim advocate, said the basic class includes about 90 minutes of classroom training and 90 minutes of physical instruction. The advanced class will be two hours of physical instruction in which participants can “have full contact to practice the more intense self-defense moves.”

Cummings said reports of sexual assault and overall crimes against people are declining in Winchester, and arrest data confirms that.

According to information on the city police website, arrests for crimes of a sexual nature dropped to 27 in 2012 from 42 in 2011. Overall crimes against people fell to 546 from 771.

Cummings said the department likes to be proactive in protecting the public, and its members would like to think that those efforts have played a significant role in the decline in crimes against people. She said one of the messages imparted at the self-defense classes is for women to try to avoid putting themselves in risky positions.

While this is the first time the advanced class is being offered, Hyman said officials hope it won’t be the last.

“We’re hoping this one goes well and people would like to see it continue,” she said. “We’ve waited for a while to get this one going.”

The department’s self-defense courses were started in the 1990s by the Sgt. Ricky Timbrook. He was shot and killed by Edward Nathaniel Bell on Oct. 29, 1999, following a foot pursuit, and the city’s public safety building is named for him.

Bell was executed on Feb. 19, 2009.

To register, call the Laurel Center at 540-667-6160.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com