UACCB set to continue popular self-defense class

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published April 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 10, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
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Instructor Don Gregory shows how to release yourself from a choke hold while student Josh Kemp pretends to attack during a self-defense class at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

— In his self-defense classes, Don Gregory likes to ask a simple question: Do you know where your [vehicle’s] spare tire is?

“Some people will be able to answer that no problem,” Gregory said. “But then I’ll ask ‘Does it have air in it?’ Very few people will be able to answer that.”

To Gregory, self-defense, like being prepared on the road, is all about awareness. Along with self-confidence, awareness is the one thing he hopes students walk away with from his tactical-combat survival course at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

The class, offered once a semester, will return this fall as part of the school’s Community and Technical Education department. Held at UACCB, the class is open to students and the community for a fee of $40 per person or $60 per couple.

“The feedback we’ve gotten from students has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Katrina Stevens, community education coordinator at UACCB. “We’ve had several students say they want to take the class again the next time.”

The eight-hour class includes hands-on training of how to defend yourself in case of an attack, combined with lessons on how to prevent an attack in the first place.

Gregory, a fourth-degree black belt who has been studying with the All Okinawan Ozark Mountain Karate Association for the past 10 years, has been teaching self-defense classes for several years.

He describes his class at UACCB as a tactical-defense class in the hopes that both men and women will choose to participate. At the most recent class, held Saturday, there were more men in attendance than women.

Although the class does involve defense and escape moves based in martial arts, Gregory said that the class isn’t about fighting.

“Some people think they’re going to come in here and learn to reach into someone’s chest and pull their heart out,” Gregory said, laughing. “That’s silly. This is no MMA or UFC class.”

Instead, Gregory takes a practical approach.

“We talk about the civil and legal responsibilities of any action you take,” Gregory said.

Stevens said that the best advice she learned during Gregory’s class was to remember to be aware of your surroundings, even if your cellphone is a tempting distraction.

“So many of us are so cellphone-oriented that we’ll be

staring down at it while we’re walking to our car or across a parking lot,” Stevens said. “If you’re off-guard, you’re much more likely to become a victim. But if you’re paying attention, potential attackers see you watching them and are less likely to act.”

Stevens said that the tactical-combat survival course has quickly become one of the most popular classes offered through the department. Those interested in signing up for the next class can contact Stevens at (870) 612-2082.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or

Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at .

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