More than 100 women attended the class that was led by martial artists from Ray Longo's International Martial Arts Academy to see and hear what they could do to protect themselves in the event of an attack.With such a large number of women attending and the short time period allotted, the class was more of an informational session than a hands-on how-to course. Longo told the women to be aware of their surroundings and to know how they react in a pressure situation."The first key is awareness," said Longo. "That's the best defense. Avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time." The woman was raped was taking her garbage out at night when she was attacked by a man police described as a black male in his 20s standing 6-foot- 2 and weighing 220 pounds. Police have released a sketch of the man wanted in connection with the rape. Rapes in the 107th Precinct, which covers Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood, and Kew Garden Hills, rose from 13 in 2003 to 21 in 2004, according to police statistics.Longo said the woman, who was attacked near her Cunningham Park resident, was in a vulnerable situation."Unfortunately, we live in a society where you have to keep your defenses up at all times," said Longo. He urged the women to minimize the time spent outside at night when they are alone.Longo also recommended that the women should take a class in self-defense since time was so limited in the session. He did cover a few moves that can be useful in the event of a attack and focused on an rapist four vulnerable areas : the eyes, throat, groin, and shin. Longo stressed the importance of not being submissive when attacked because that only adds to the power trip he said is sought by a potential rapist. Longo's assistants demonstrated how yelling key words like "stop" and "police" can be enough to thwart an attack by drawing attention to the scene. If that fails, he suggested fighting back any way possible to stop an attack even if it is not successful."Studies have shown women who fight back recover quicker from the trauma of a rape than those who don't," said Longo.His female assistant then demonstrated on a male assistant how a well-placed knee to the groin can bring the biggest of men down. "That shot is going to do a lot of damage," said Longo.He cautioned against women carrying weapons unless they are properly trained because the weapon can be taken from the woman and used by the attacker. After being pressed by women in the class for more information, he said a good thing for women to carry is a control stick. The control stick is an aluminum tube with points at each end that can be used to strike an attacker and also has a pepper spray dispenser inside. The pepper spray can be emptied in one use, preventing it from being taken by the attacker and used against the victim. Women attending the class said it was informative, but that it was only a first step to becoming more prepared for an attack."The session was positive in the sense that it's forcing people to become aware," said a resident who did not want to be named. "There are so many things you can do before the incident takes place," said Christine Soja, who's fiance lives in the community. "I walk around with my headphones on. I'm not going to do that any more." Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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