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Take self-defense class to learn how to protect yourself

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True to his word, NYPD Sgt. Jeff Hunt, known to members of his karate classes as Sensei Hunt, presented the first of five free self-defense karate classes to a large group of participants Sept. 16.

The place was Shotokan Karate on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Most of those participating were either early or on time, which was fortunate because Shotokan Karate has a tight schedule. I decided to participate in the first class so I could give you my assessment of the session.

Since the floor was softly padded, we were told to remove our shoes — and loop earrings, if any — and socks and store them under benches. We then lined up against one wall and listened while Hunt explained that he taught from a Christian perspective.

He gave us the rules and we repeated them before we took a partner. We then lined up opposite our partner and were told to play catch with a large ball or cube we were given, supposedly to warm up and increase our balance. It did help with balance and by the time that portion of the training was over, I was a little more than warm. My partner and I had thrown at a very steady pace.

My next partner was a strong lady who was quick to learn. I asked her if she practiced with her husband, since she had told me he had taken karate lessons before. She said she had. I was impressed.

Hunt demonstrated with a student assistant how to get away from a perpetrator who grabs you from the front. As my partner and I practiced, we were watched and corrected by one of the students helping Hunt. This lesson involved releasing the perpetrator's hold and making a thrust at his face.

The next demonstration and lesson involved an assault from behind. This lesson was more intricate and looked as if it would be a lot more painful for the attacker. First came the release from the perpetrator's grip, followed by a sharp whack to the leg. Then, as quickly as possible, a sharp blow to the solar plexus and then a blow to the throat.

Hunt explained that we should always be aware of our surroundings and what is going on. Go with your intuition. If something seems wrong, try an alternative. Identify all cases of an attack, even after your successful release from an attacker's grip. Run, yell — do something to throw your attacker off guard and attract help.

This is certainly good advice whether you know karate or not. I know I have had the experience and you want to get away from any experience like that as soon a possible. It does not hurt to say a prayer, either.

Before I knew it, it was 8 p.m. Members of the next class were waiting to take our places after we ended by repeating Hunt's rules. He offered a small self-defense "Persuader" for $10 to students who might want one. The second session would involve self-defense using a cane or an umbrella.

Hunt and his helpers are good people and the course is constructive, interesting and fun. Everyone should be careful and alert, and if you see something or know something, tell the police.

Our sincere thanks to Hunt and Co. for a job well done.

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