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“Women Empowered” through self-defense class

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Family Martial Arts in Beckley is introducing a new self-defense course geared at empowerment and building a community around safety.

Some women's self defense classes are seeing a spike in enrollment as their new years goal.

"I have a little girl and I want to sign her up for classes like this and I want her to know there's plenty of predators out there and this class right here helps to empower yourself, and your children," Participant, Tashia Armstrong said.

"It is just for women. That creates an atmosphere where people are comfortable coming in and knowing who they are going to working with and that it's just for them," Owner, and Head Instructor, Jason Wilcox explained.

For one participant, the 'Women Empowered Seminar' hits close to home.

"I have been a victim of sexual assault and domestic violence. This is a very good class for women even though they think they might be weak because they've been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. You're not, this class helps you bring out the inner strength that you didn't know that you had," Armstrong revealed.

Some of the moves taught during this weekend's seminar included a "trap, roll and escape," and a "elbow base" technique.

"Just like a predator he knows your moves, so you want to watch him, you want to watch his moves. If he's got you pinned down you know exactly what to do to get out," Armstrong explained.

Wilcox has been teaching Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for more than 10 years. But he was inspired to began martial arts around 8-years-old where he learned to build confidence, and defense techniques after being bullied.

"Confidence comes with knowing Jiu-Jitsu. If you walk confidently outside of a grocery store into a parking lot, that confidence sends a vibe to a predator. And they are going to look at that person and say, 'I don't want to attack that person. I want a easy target, someone that looks weak.' Jiu-Jitsu brings that mental strength. So that's what we're doing to empower these women," Wilcox said.

Wilcox advises people to take refresher courses every year or so to keep their skills fresh.

The Women Empowered class will be an ongoing training over the course of 10 weeks. The class will be held at Family Martial Arts in Beckley, and given every Tuesday at 6:15 p.m., and Saturday at 11 a.m.

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