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Woman’s Empowerment Program teaches awareness, self-defense

Woman’s Empowerment Program teaches awareness, self-defense

Woman’s Empowerment Program teaches awareness, self-defense
October 21
13:41 2018

Seventy-nine women attended the Woman’s Empowerment Program hosted by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday at the Denton Bible Church.

The purpose of the program is to empower women and teach them skills to prevent becoming a victim of violence or abuse by stressing mental preparedness, muscle memory and confidence, organizers said.

“I think it’s a wonderful event,” said Jennifer Chapell, a 41-year-old Denton resident. “I appreciate the Denton County Sheriff’s Office for doing this.”

Chapell is a stay at home mother and often runs errands by herself. By attending the program, Chapell said she hopes to learn how to protect herself and pass on that knowledge to her 7-year-old daughter.

After she completed the first self-defense session, she said she felt empowered.

“If I’m ever put in that situation, it’s going to kick in for me,” Chapell said.

The program has four phases that teach women different self-defense skills. As the women progress through the phases they are presented with harder challenges to complete. After phase four, the women graduate from the program.

On Saturday, there was a classroom discussion for the new women in phase one. The discussion covered situational awareness, home defense and personal weapons. Afterward, the women were taught basic combat skills such as a fighting stance, a palm strike and a variety of different kicks.

Orlando Hinojosa, captain of the Denton County Sheriff’s Department, said the importance of the event is to educate women on situations that could happen. He said it is important for women to seem less vulnerable.

“We’re going to teach [women to] try not to be a victim,” Hinojosa said. “Don’t look like a victim. But if something happens, this is what you can do.”

Denton County resident Jennifer Chapell practices kicking with an instructor for the Women’s Empowerment Program. Chapell was a part of the Phase 1 of the program. Jordan Collard

Hinojosa said he likes seeing the confidence that resurfaces in these women when they learn self-defense techniques. He thinks it’s important for women to learn to use their body as a weapon when they don’t have any secondary weapons with them.

“There’s ladies that come in that are afraid,” Hinjosa said. “And after you see them hitting the bags and stuff, they get into it.”

Grady Lebrun, corporal in the detention center with the sheriff’s office, serves as an instructor. Lebrun said the program is all about preparedness and understanding the reality of these situations that women could be in.

“Everyone’s always got a mindset of ‘that’s not going to happen to me’ until it actually ends up happening,” Lebrun said. “And then they’re unprepared because they haven’t practiced and they haven’t learned. ”

Lebrun said he likes seeing women motivated to learn more, but said the program is all about survival.

“If people can get into the mindset to not feel helpless, that’ll help solve so many of the problems,” Lebrun said. “They’ll be more able to protect themselves and they’ll be able to pass on that knowledge to other people.”

Lebrun gave a presentation on how to identify target areas on the human body that one should aim for while performing self-defense. These target areas include the eyes, nose, shin and groin area of the attacker.

“It’s important to learn the tactics and small moves and stuff that can help you defend yourself,” program participant Alyssa Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, 21, participated in the program because her mother is worried about her and wants to make sure she knows how to protect herself. Rodriguez said she is glad she knows how to defend herself now.

“It’s really encouraging having other people cheer you on, having the police officers cheer you on, so I like that aspect,” Rodriguez said.

The Woman’s Empowerment Program is held monthly and the next session will be held on Nov. 3 in Highland Village.

Featured Image: Instructors create a mock attack from behind and participants used the self-defense techniques learned in previous phases to respond. Jordan Collard

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Jasmine Robinson

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