Watch out, would-be kidnappers and thugs of Hillsdale. Junior Anna Shoffner knows “how to bust someone’s eardrum,” and she jogs with a pen so she can stab you if accosted.
Shoffner is sophomore Marshall Gobba’s student in his “warrior training,” a self-defense class he is offering. Gobba, a 10-year Marine Corps veteran, worked in aviation electronics, and as a Marine security guard, and in the intelligence field while in the military.
“I’m showing her [Shoffner] a few things that I know that would be suitable for a lady who was accosted by someone bigger and stronger than her,” Gobba said. However, he said his class is not just for girls.
Shoffner said, “I feel like a boss. It makes you feel more confident and aware and capable.”
Gobba emphasizes that this “warrior training” is not about learning to fight in a prolonged hand-to-hand encounter, rather, it’s about getting out of trouble as quickly as possible.
He doesn’t think he would be able to add anything to someone’s repertoire who has taken Mixed Martial Arts lessons or earned multiple belts in a martial art. His lessons aren’t about that. But Gobba said that even better than promptly escaping a fight is to not enter a conflict in the first place, so he emphasizes situational awareness.
“I also want to stress mindset and mental condition, so we use a book, ‘Principles of Self-Defense,’ by Jeff Cooper,” Gobba said. “It’s not about moves, it’s about mindset.”
Moves are important too, so, teaching people to focus on hard or soft targets, Gobba stresses attacks to sensitive areas of the body like eyes, groin, solar plexus, eardrums, joints, exploiting vulnerabilities.
“I would define the approach as precision and violence of action in the moves,” Gobba said.
“He’s been teaching me how to punch, block, escape holds, and pinpoint areas to attack with elbows and fists and kicks,” Shoffner said.
Gobba said there isn’t one particular style that his training could be labeled under, but it comes out of the blend of techniques in the Marine Corp Martial Arts Program and a little karate he learned from a sensei back home in Chico, Calif.
As for the lessons themselves, they begin with a warm-up of running or calisthenics and conditioning exercises.
“You don’t have to be fit, but you have to put forth the effort and want to get fit,” Gobba said.
Gobba’s lessons use the heavy bag in the George Roche Sports Complex by the indoor track and a punching bag from the security office.
“He’s a great teacher. He’s patient with me, but he pushes me as far as we can go,” Shoffner said. “He’s challenging, but super-encouraging, and he always has time to answer questions about anything.”
Gobba said he wants to keep offering self-defense lessons “as long as there are people interested and I have the time for it.”
“I enjoy doing it and enjoy teaching it,” he said.
He doesn’t charge for his lessons, but said he is trying to raise money for a charity called “Smile Train,” which helps children with cleft palates in undeveloped countries.
“If people want to make a donation to help me with that, they are welcome to do that,” Gobba said.
If you’re interested in taking lessons from Gobba, he can be contacted at his Hillsdale email address.