Self-defense class teaches women how to stay safe

Local News

After a man grabbed a woman in Roanoke and tried to kiss her, according to police, self-defense instructors are reminding people of the importance of learning how to defend themselves.

A woman was walking home on the 500 block of Gilmer Avenue NW Friday night when she was grabbed and pushed against a wall, according to authorities. The victim was wearing her headphones and listening to music, police added, so she could not hear the suspect approach her.

According to police, the woman kicked the attacker and ran away.

A group of women were learning ways to defend themselves at a class Sunday at Counter Response Tactical in Roanoke County. Students we spoke with said they believe self-defense is an important skill to learn. 

“If someone comes up from behind me, knocks me over, that’s it,” said Connie Boyette, who was attending her second self-defense class at Counter Response Tactical.

Boyette also brought along her teenage daughter to the class.

“I don’t have to worry if she’s physically not at my side, like I would love her to be, but she’s a teenager,” she said. 

“At any given time, they could be put in a situation where their life’s in danger, and they need to fight for their life,” said Tim Habla, owner of Counter Response Tactical and instructor of the women’s self-defense class.

If you are being attacked, Habla recommends targeting vulnerable parts of the attacker’s body. 

“Elbow in the neck, elbow in the nose,” he explained. “Kicking the knee out.”

Aside from technique, Habla said, you should avoid distractions that could make you a target. 

“Be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “You don’t have to be paranoid, but you have to kind of know what’s going on.”

“It actually makes you very confident, and you don’t have any worries about walking anywhere,” Boyette said of learning self-defense. 

The suspect in Friday’s incident is still on the run, according to authorities. Police describe him as a heavy set man, between 6’0” and 6’3” tall with hair braids.

Anyone with information is asked to call Roanoke Police at 540-344-8500.

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