Self Defense Class

Choctaw Nation offers self-defense classes

By Chris Jennings
April 3, 2023

Every week in April, the Choctaw Nation will provide free self-defense classes to anyone, Native or non-Native.

The Nation has contracted with McAlester Tae Kwon Do to offer free classes to men and women ages 12 and over, although minors will need a guardian present.

The Nation has offered self-defense classes in one form or another for at least eight years.

First, starting with Chi Hullo Li residential treatment center in Talihina, then expanding to the community. Since then, the classes have been well received.

“We saw such success with that [The Chi Hullo Li program] with the increase in self-esteem and resiliency, we decided to offer self-defense to the community,” said Malanie Carrell, a program manager with the Choctaw Nation.

In a 2016/2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 women (26.8% or 33.5 million) in the United States reported completed or attempted rape victimization at some point in her lifetime.

While sexual violence against women is more prevalent, men can experience the same victimization. About 1 in 26 men (3.8% or 4.5 million) in the United States reported completed or attempted rape victimization at some point in his lifetime.

Participants taking a self-defense class are taking steps toward not becoming a statistic.

There are other benefits as well.

“It raises awareness, personal awareness of surroundings. It raises the self-confidence to know the techniques and to know that it doesn’t rely on strength, that anybody can do this,” said Carrell.

A self-defense class encourages participants to consider their surroundings and face their fears. It enables them to feel more empowered in their life. Carrell says one of the ways they do this is with their voice.

“We practice in the classes using our voice. As silly as that may seem, a lot of people are afraid to speak up. And it just enables them empowers them to speak up and use their voice and know their boundaries,” Carrell said.

According to Carrell, techniques taught can be tailored to the individual.

“The classes serve all ages and all abilities. So, the instructor is able to tailor them to fit. If someone has limited mobility, he’s able to tailor the technique, so that they can defend themselves,” she said.

According to the CDC, abuse, including neglect and exploitation, is experienced by about 1 in 10 people aged 60 and older.

From 2002 to 2016, more than 643,000 older adults were treated in the emergency department for nonfatal assaults, and over 19,000 homicides occurred.

The rate of nonfatal assaults increased by more than 75% among men (2002–2016) and more than 35% among women (2007–2016).

The estimated homicide rate for men increased 7% from 2010 to 2016. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Black or African American persons, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Natives, and Hispanic or Latino persons have higher homicide rates (2002–2016).

Kids are also at risk.

Of all female victims of completed rape, 41% reported that it first occurred before age 18.

Of all male victims of made-to-penetrate victimization, 24% reported that it occurred before age 18.

The consequences of these actions last a lifetime.

On top of the emotional trauma, significantly more women and men with a history of sexual violence or stalking reported asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping and limitations in their activities compared to women and men without a history of these forms of violence.

Sometimes a manipulative relationship turns bad over time without the victim knowing it.

Some of the things to look out for are covered in these self-defense classes.

“We talk about the signs and symptoms of domestic violence and the resources that are available. We also talk about consent, what that is and what that is not,” said Carrell.

Knowing these warning signs can enable someone to get out of an abusive relationship before it’s too late.

The remaining classes are scheduled for the dates below:

  • Monday, April 3, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Whitfield School Gym, Whitfield, Oklahoma
  • Tuesday, April 11, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Southeastern State University Student Union Wellness Center Gym, Durant, Oklahoma
  • Wednesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club, Talihina, Oklahoma
  • Thursday, April 27, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Family Life Center, First Assembly of God, 1501 S. Park Dr., Broken Bow, Oklahoma