Crime, Events

Giving women tools to defend themselves

Solomon D'Amico, self-defense class instructor, at the educational carnival for SeaView Community Center's Domestic Violence Sexual Assault program. Heidi Zemach photo.
Solomon D’Amico, self-defense class instructor, at the educational carnival for SeaView Community Center’s Domestic Violence Sexual Assault program. Heidi Zemach photo.

By Heidi Zemach for SCN –

Solomon D’Amico, a longtime Seward man is offering a new women’s self-defense course at the 5th Avenue Fitness gym. With only room for eight students at one time, it’ll be a small effort, but he feels it’s something he can do to help curb the scourge of violence against women in Alaska.

D’Amico is an administrator and staff member at Marvin Tapsfield’s gym, which replaced the former Rez Fitness. He’s a local swim coach for kids. He has a wrestling background from his high-school days, and has a martial arts background gained from taking a martial arts program while in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also completed 20-hours of training to teach women’s self- defense through the Senshido martial art program in February. Senshido International teaches survival skills for violent situations people encounter in today’s world, and also looks at the psychological triggers of violence.

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The self-defense class will train the students to respond effectively to assailants in a number of different scenarios, including the unexpected. They’ll drill on how to act and react on their feet, using whatever means they have at their disposal, taking advantage of more vulnerable areas. “Rip, tear, scratch, do maximum damage in a minimum time and without a second’s hesitation,” D’Amico said. “We have drills to kind of instill that kind of-‘boom, it’s happening, I’m going to give it everything, I’m going to neutralize this threat and I’m going to go home and see my kids.’ That’s the mindset.”

Part of the training for the women, who tend to be more natural nurturers and caretakers of others, is being ready and willing to physically hurt another person in order to protect themselves. Students also will be taught the criminal laws in regard to self-defense, and when women are within their rights to take action. Obviously a creepy stare doesn’t warrant someone being killed, he said.

The key to personal safety generally is awareness, D’Amico said. Awareness of every aspect of one’s surroundings, of what one is doing that might make one are target, and being ready to act should that become necessary.

The idea for the class came about when some female friends of his were goofing around with choke holds and other positions. D’Amico stepped in to help show them how to actually escape a chokehold. That’s when another friend and bystander suggested that as he knows how, and already works in a gym, D’Amico should teach women’s self-defense course. The idea appealed. He’s well aware of the high statistics for the abuse of women in Alaska, the highest in the nation for rape and sexual abuse, but had never really thought he could help until his friend suggested it. “And I thought, yes, I can totally do that!” D’Amico said.

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