FWB & Aikido of Denton Offer Free Self Defense

On January 21st, Friends with Benefits in partnership with Aikido of Denton held one of two free self defense classes for the community to participate in. The second class will be held on January 28th at Aikido of Denton’s facility on Elm street. Mindy Arendt, President of Friends with Benefits Denton described how the idea came from the fears voiced by her friends, neighbors and other members of the community in the wake of the election. 

“If someone is worried about being attacked - for any reason, color of their skin, gender, sexual preference, what is the safest thing we can provide them? Answer: the ability to defend themselves,” Arendt said. 

Arendt conducted research on various self defense around the Denton area and organized the classes with the help of chief instructor of Aikido of Denton and 4th degree black belt John Thompson. Aikido of Denton arranged for the classes to be offered free of charge to participants as an offering to the community. When asked what the goal was for these classes Arendt stated: “To give people the ability to defend themselves, even if it's one or two moves to get out of attack holds, and to have more confidence to feel safe in your own community.”

Thompson, who has run Aikido of Denton since 2000, strongly emphasizes the importance of martial arts as a means cultivating a student’s mind which he explained will help improve every facet of their life while teaching confidence and humility. He describes how the class teaches the basic fundamentals and movements associated with the martial art. 

These fundamentals in terms of self defense include focusing on issues of distance, timing, and movement over sheer strength and flashy techniques. Aikido, in his words, focuses on techniques and tactics based on natural body movements. The drills taught in the course can also be practiced by participants on their own. 

“We carry a high ethical ideal when training, meaning we don't escalate tension or violence which also works well with legal concerns. Aikido eschews competition and asks it's practitioners to continuously refine themselves over correcting others. We also do not focus extensively on striking, rather employing joint locks and unbalancing throws,” Thompson said. 

Prior to the event, individuals need to create an account at MindBodyOnline, search Aikido of Denton and create an account which acts as the waiver for the event. Participants should also wear comfortable work out clothes, wear socks or prepare to be barefoot on the mat and bring toe nail clippers. While turn out for the previous class was slim due to the marches and rallies taking place in North Texas, Arendt hopes any interested community members will take advantage of the opportunity for free instruction in self defense. 

“We're very lucky in Denton to feel comfortable in our own skin, to speak our minds, express our opinions, and have the freedom to be a passionate, outspoken community,” she said. “Anything we can do to make sure people can still feel safe walking the sidewalks, dressing how they want, being themselves, we're going to try to do. Knowing how to defend yourself is important for anyone.” 

While Thompson cautions that the one day course will not prepare people for every possible scenario, he hopes the experience will spark an interest in furthering their own self defense training. He suggests experiencing several different types of martial arts with different instructors to find a style that fits them in their physical and mental degrees, citing the long term benefits of martial arts as a whole. 

“When it comes to martial arts, I think the benefits I witness in my adult and kid students goes well beyond physical self defense. I have seen kids overcome serious social anxieties, and learn a confidence which will make them less likely to be a target of violence. I know adults who perform in physical ways they never thought imaginable. The martial arts exposes people on the inside and outside. It is through the continuous training that the practitioner cultivates a stronger sense of self,” Thompson concluded. 

For more information regarding the Free Self Defense Class visit the event page on Facebook.

Header Image by Brittany Keaton