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Morning Sun
  • Learning to protect yourself

  • Pittsburg Community Middle School eighth grade students are getting ready for high school and are close to “that age” where they start dating and learning about relationships.

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  • Pittsburg Community Middle School eighth grade students are getting ready for high school and are close to “that age” where they start dating and learning about relationships.
    Relationship can be great, but they also can have a dark side that includes physical violence. So, as part of the curriculum for their human growth and development class, physical education instructors Christy Watt and Jordan Woods teamed up with Pittsburg State University students and Kenpo Karate instructor Ron White Tuesday and Wednesday to teach their students about dating violence and the importance of making wise decisions.
    The students rotated between presentations by the PSU group Students for Violence Prevention, and White, who with his son, Mitchell, and student, Jensen Duff, taught them several self-defense moves.
    “A lot of this is about consequences, making good choices and keeping yourself out of bad situations,” Watt said as White showed her girls’ class how to break out of a bear hug. “They may act a bit silly, but they’re learning that violence can go across every line, that’s it’s not just a race thing or a socio-economic thing.”
    Watt said the goal of the demonstrations weren’t to make her students proficient in karate, but to give them an idea of what to do if they do find themselves in a bad situation.
    “Hopefully their decisions won’t put them in that situation, but if they are, they need to know what to do,” Watt said. “We’re trying to teach them to be assertive and to stay out of those situations.”
    White, who has been involved in martial arts since he was 10 years old and is a member of the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame, said the moves he taught the students aren’t designed to allow them to stand and fight.
    “Mostly they’re designed to let them break away and get away as quickly as possible,” White said. “And the best weapon they have is their voice.”
    Milana Blessant, one of Watt’s students, said she might take up a form of martial art after White’s lessons.
    “It was really good and I think it will help people a lot,” Blessant said. “I’m very interested in martial arts, I have been since I was four years old. I’ll probably start taking lessons and get some of my friends involved.”
    White teaches class through the Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Department at the Lincoln Center on Monday and Wednesday nights from 6:45 to 7:45. He also teaches private lessons and can be contacted through the department.
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