Students learn value of self-defense

When Rubina Jan’s class gathered in the North Commons for a lesson in self-defense, it was the mental approach to protecting oneself – not the physical approach – that was the focus of the lecture and demonstration.

While that may seem counterintuitive to some, to UW-Whitewater police officer Kelsi Servi it is the best message she can send.

“It’s that mindset that gives you that extra survival instinct,’’ Servi said. “The trust you actually have in yourself is often one of the biggest obstacles to overcome.’’

Servi, who was graduated from the Blackhawk Technical College public safety program in 2011, made three separate presentations at BTC’s Central Campus as part of Blackhawk’s acknowledgement of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The program was sponsored by three BTC student groups – The Student Network of Activities and Programming, the Health Occupations Students of America and the Multicultural Alliance.

Servi’s program went beyond just a focus on sexual assault and emphasized any dangerous situation we may find ourselves in.

“Self-defense is a way to protect yourself from being a victim,’’ she explained. “Your body has a built-in survival instinct. Don’t ignore your gut instincts. They are there for a reason.’’ 

One key is to fine tune that instinct by what she called the three As – an awareness of your surroundings, assessing your environment and acting on the situation.

Servi, who completed her undergraduate program in Sociology while working as an officer at Whitewater, noted that there are three elements to a dangerous situation – there must be a target, there must be an opportunity to commit a crime and there must be a desire on the part of an individual to commit a crime. A potential victim has the chance to control those first two.

“Anything can be a weapon,’’ she said, saying that something as simple as a pen can be used to protect yourself. “It’s the intent behind it that makes it effective or not." 

But the best weapon of protection may be the simple decision to act, she said. “Be decisive,’’ she said. “There are no rules in self-defense.’’

There are a number of areas one can attack in self-defense. Servi’s said her “first go to is the eyes because if he can’t see me he can’t hurt me.’’ Other areas are the ears, nose, throat, solar plexus, thighs, knees and groin. 

But no matter where one strikes, it must be done with conviction. 

“It’s not about physical ability,’’ she emphasized, “but about your mindset and your willingness to survive.’’