I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
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Free Self-Defense Classes for Women
For the last couple of years I’ve noticed somebody offering free self-defense classes for women on a website I follow. Women’s self-defense classes are something I’ve always been meaning to take, but somehow never get around to it. When I saw that Art Durazo Hugues was offering another free class this Saturday I jumped at the chance to go!
After hearing glowing feedback from my friends, I contacted Art before I attended the class. I was impressed with his dedication and his motivation.
Art told me that he was inspired to start these free women’s self-defense classes after he found out that one of his female high school classmates was attacked and killed in her own home.
He now hosts several free workshops for women and separate ones for children every year, and challenges other members of the local martial arts community to do the same.
Art seemed a little taken aback that I wanted to write an article about him. He made it very clear that helping to keep the most vulnerable people in our community safe was worth more to him than money or self-promotion.
I explained that what he was doing was incredible, altruistic, and potentially life-saving for the women and children of Fresno, and I wanted to recognize that. It’s very much in the spirit of FresYes- celebrating the people who contribute to making this city special.
Art’s enthusiasm over the phone was infectious. I was excited to meet him in person and take the class, which says a lot- because I’m the opposite of athletic and fairly reserved with people I don’t know. (Although if I do know you- watch out!) I was nervous about the prospect of driving out to Missing Link MMA and learning how to combat and counterattack complete strangers.
I was so relieved when I walked in! The atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive, warm, and welcoming. They had a great turnout. I was a little late, everyone was already warming up when I got there. (Oops.)
There were about 25 other women there, some as young as 11. Art and several of his students, men and women, had given up the Saturday morning before Christmas to help us learn to be safer in an effort to avoid being an “easy target”, and also to kick some butt if we needed to. As a special surprise, Jenifer Alcorn was there as a guest teacher!
My takeaway- A lot of the basics are common sense. Don’t carry a purse unless you have to. Even if you do carry a purse, keep your cards and keys and stuff you can’t live without on your person, so you can ditch your bag and run. Avoid using your phone while walking from stores to your car- make eye contact, scan your surroundings, and pay attention.
Art demonstrated several scenarios about how to deal with an assailant, and then the class practiced the same moves with a partner. It was serious stuff in a very lighthearted atmosphere.
Art and his students observed and stepped in when they needed to, but watching the sense of confidence grow as the class got more comfortable was incredibly inspiring to experience.
Jenifer Alcorn took over for awhile and demonstrated how to throw a punch and led the class through a series of drills (and some light comedy, judging by the laughter) while Art came over to talk to me. He was beaming.
“What do you think?” he asked, grinning. “Look at them out there. They’re having a great time, they feel empowered. That’s the goal! That’s what it’s about.”
It was a good Saturday. I’m so glad I went.
If you’d like to learn more about what Art is about, you can visit his website, Missing Link MMA
There are several upcoming events like this planned: a free children’s self defense session is coming up in late January, and the next free women’s self defense class is scheduled for March 18th of next year. Art also does private self defense coaching with groups, including law enforcement, realtors, and anyone else who wants to take him up on it.
He is also contemplating putting together a cardio conditioning class for women in the near future, with the goal of fighting obesity and teaching exercises his classes will be able to learn and then duplicate at home. Call (559) 213-6591 if you want to get more information or reserve your spot!