When Becky Waters moved to Hillsdale, she was not certain how she would continue pursuing her passion for teaching self-defense. After several conversations with Senior Christa Green, they formed a plan.
The result was a women’s self-defense class which meets on Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Sports Complex. The class will meet from Feb. 6 to April 16.
Waters has achieved the rank of 2nd-degree black belt in taekwondo, is a black belt mentor, and a student of Krav Maga. After nearly a decade of teaching martial arts and self-defense, Waters decided that after moving to Hillsdale, the next step was to offer a class for women.
Waters began her studies of taekwondo with her sons and was quickly forced to employ the skills she learned.
“Throughout the years my strong sons have always happily taken it upon themselves to seize every opportunity to see how successful they could jump out and scare me in public and private,” Waters said in an email, “From around corners, cars, behind doors, bushes, walls, in the elevators, and pounce, attack, wrestle, grab, pin, grapple-to see if I could, in fact, defend myself.”
While the study of self-defense is important for men and women to learn, sometimes learning in a single-sex environment is better.
“It has been my personal experience that women thrive in an environment where we feel safe first,” Waters said, “I can easily teach a skill “hands-on” so that participants experience how the move feels, and then the issue is learning the skill rather than focusing on other factors.”
Waters also believes that it isn’t her place to teach men how to defend themselves. While she can teach them street defense to some extent, men are better suited for teaching men.
Green prefers the all women’s environment.
“There is more comfort learning these skills from a woman who understands what it is like to be a woman,” Green said, “The perspective and mentality is more relatable in an all-women’s environment.”
Green said that Water’s teaching style also contributes to the success of the class.
“She is kind but also hard on us because she honestly desires our well-being and safety.”
Over the course of the 8‑week class, Waters offers a condensed program of advanced levels of taekwondo, studies of street defense, and Krav Maga.
“I wanted to be trained in how to react in various unsafe situations,” Freshman Lucy Cuneo said, ”Whether in running, confronting, or defending, I desired precise details and applicable techniques.”
Cuneo did not have any previous self-defense training but had always wanted to learn.
Waters welcomes any woman on campus to join the class, but with the understanding that each class builds upon the last.
“Each week provides at least four new skills which build on previous weeks as they become instinctive with the drills we do,” she said.
Green believes that self-defense is a vital skill to know.
“I enjoy how practical the class is,” Green said, “We have not yet learned anything super fancy or complex, so these are moves I am confident I can do in the adrenaline of an actually threatening situation.”
The class emphasizes confidence in awareness, what to do if situations arise, and defense skills, all through engaging in practical and situational drills.
“I believe all martial arts are great at teaching both character and physical life skills, and this women’s program is not to compete with what’s already in place, but to supplement,” Waters said.
At the core of her classes, Waters gets to share her Christian convictions. She is able to share her beliefs in how, “God values us and we are loved, created by Him for greatness to do great things.”