To protect themselves on campus or around Fayetteville, some students carry pepper spray or tasers while others opt to take self-defense classes.
Sophomore Emily Grisham thinks that taking a self-defense course like Krav Maga is necessary as a college student and especially as a woman, she said.
In 2016, there were 37,389 crimes reported on college campuses across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education. With recent, although not confirmed, rumors and general panic concerning kidnappings and assault at the UofA, Grisham think it is important to take precautions in self-defense, she said.
Despite the rumors, no incidents were confirmed, UAPD Capt. Gary Crain said in an email.
“The rumors caused a lot of anxiety for a short period of time, but no one was injured, no one went missing and no valid crime discovered,” Crain said. “The rumors never had credibility.”
Grisham began training in Krav Maga, a form of self-defense developed by Israeli special forces, before she started college, she said. She took a two-hour class twice a week at Impact 360 in Searcy, Arkansas, where the students would practice punching and kicking techniques, she said.
Students learned new methods of defense regarding how to effectively stop any attacker, which included skills like disarming someone with a weapon and completely disabling the attacker, Grisham said.
“I think it’s important to know how to defend yourself in college,” Grisham said. “In today’s society, we can’t trust that everyone is a good person, and living in a college town, we hear so many stories about rape. I don’t want to be part of that statistic.”
At the time, she was the only woman in her class because it was mainly directed toward law enforcement, although it is very different today because more women are joining, Grisham said.
“I was trained to fight until I was able to get away without being chased or until my instructor tapped (out),” Grisham said. “I felt this was a necessary course for me, personally, because others might see me as an easy target since I am a fairly small woman.”
Fayetteville resident Kate Knox, 32, was attacked 10 years ago and turned to Krav Maga in order to cope with the trauma, gain self-confidence and defend herself when needed, she said.
After leaving a bar to go home with a close friend and a few acquaintances, Knox was attacked from behind by a man in her bedroom and thinks she could’ve done something more to prevent it, she said.
“Before Krav Maga, you have that fight, flight or freeze thing, and I would freeze,” Knox said. “That’s what happened to me 10 years ago when I was attacked. I just froze. It’s one of those things where you can’t change the past, but I would never have that happen to me again. Women should take at least a few classes and get used to the idea that they can fight back. Because if someone does attack you, you can say, ‘Hey I feel threatened, but I can take care of this myself.’’’
Knox used Krav Maga as both a means of self-defense and a way to cope with her trauma, she said.
“For the longest time, I felt regret, and I felt weak, but now with taking these classes and knowing how to defend myself, it’s helped me not only conquer that but face it as well,” Knox said. “I honestly believe that it helped me more than therapy. Instead of talking it out, I got to act upon it and show that I can take care of myself.”
Cole Saugey, a certified Krav Maga instructor in Fayetteville, decided to start training when a man verbally threatened him in line at the Walmart on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and he realized he did not know how to defend himself, he said.
“I wanted something that was more of a tool than an art and something that would kick in whenever a situation arose so that I could escape the situation,” Saugey said. “That’s what set Krav Maga apart from other martial arts for me. It was a no-nonsense system, and they’re focused more on striking vitals and creating an opportunity to escape the situation than they are about winning the fight.”
It wasn’t until Saugey started doing the training that he realized how much he didn’t know, Saugey said. He thinks that most people have this glamorous idea of fighting and that it’ll be like it is in the movies and television.
Real fights are brutal, when people get into training and feel what it’s like to hit or kick something, they realize fighting isn’t at all what they thought it was going to be, Saugey said.
“If it were up to me, taking self-defense courses would be just as important to take as anything else,” Saugey said. “It’s a lifelong skill that hopefully you’ll never have to use, but you don’t ever want to be in a position where something is happening to you or your family and you don’t know what to do.”
During the time of the rumored incidents near the Northwest Arkansas Mall and around Maple Street this fall, Saugey had five new students come to the studio after the rumored incidents. Saugey also had an additional 10 individuals call or walk-in to discuss self-defense training because they were shaken or scared due to similar circumstances, he said.
Other reasons that people join classes are due to traumatic experiences they’ve experienced, Saugey said.
“We have a women’s only class, which occurred because we have so many women who have survived traumatic events like assault or rape, who weren’t comfortable working in an environment with men, so we created that class to give them an opportunity to get some training in,” Saugey said.
For Senior Caitlyn Cook, being armed with self-defense tools is another method of staying safe on campus and around Fayetteville, she said.
Cook carries pepper spray and a taser with her wherever she goes for protection, she said.
“I got both my pepper spray and taser this year,” Cook said. “I walk to class from my apartment, which is about a mile from campus. I had a really scary experience where a guy followed me in broad daylight, and after that I just never felt safe. Even if I don’t use it, I know it’s there if things got out of hand.”
Pat Walker Health Center's Wellness and Health Promotion department is offering two eight-week Krav Maga self-defense courses this spring semester from Jan. 15 to March 5 and March 12 to May 7, according to Pat Walker Health Center. Classes are held Tuesday evenings from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 2123 in the student health center. The program is $40 for students and $55 for faculty and staff.