January 25, 2005
It’s OK to be rude to stay safe. That’s the lesson kids get when they take a self-defense class at NAK Martial Arts Center in Gilbert, where owner Sal Banuelos teaches confidence and awareness.
"If you’re not with a parent, it’s OK to walk away (from strange adults)," he tells students. "We also teach the kids to be aware of their surroundings, where they walk. If it’s home from school, stay on the big sidewalks. Don’t take back alleys."
The martial arts center offers free self-defense seminars once a month. The next class for children will be March 19. Kids enrolled in any of the programs at the center get selfdefense instruction, since Banuelos believes it’s an important
"It’s for all kids because even the tough bully kid needs to be reminded. If you have techniques, you have something to rely on," Banuelos says.
Kids should know mental and physical methods of getting away from attackers or potential kidnappers, like yelling "Fire" instead of "Help" when being attacked since "Fire" is more likely to draw attention from passers-by.
If a stranger is trying to snatch a child from a public place, the kid should be loud, make a scene and scream, "They are not my parents," Banuelos says.
"Grab a bystander, grab onto them and make them get personally involved," he says.
Kids also learn how to make themselves heavy if someone is trying to drag them, methods for breaking a hand grab and what to do if someone is yanking them from behind.
Banuelos says kids ages 6 to 12 will get the most out of self-defense classes and, since a lot of information is given at once, he suggests parents attend and practice techniques with children at home.
"It’s all the techniques they learn in martial arts combined with effective street techniques for their level and their size," Banuelos says. "We teach them simple stuff they can remember — stomping, scratching, biting and hammer strikes. Those everyone can do."
Street-smart kids should know
• A dangerous person doesn’t necessarily look scary or mean.
• To tell an adult where you’ll be at all times.
• Traveling with a friend is a good idea. Traveling with a bunch of kids is even better.
• Where to find safe spots — houses of kids you know, parents’ friends’ houses, stores, restaurants, police stations or libraries — if you get in trouble.
• Make a lot of noise if you’re scared.
• Trust your instincts.