By Genny Boots '18
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, WASH. (Oct. 5, 2017)- “If you find yourself in a confrontation, the first thing you want to do is get low,” said master karate instructor Marc Cordice, moving his body into a wide-leg stance. “Next, you want to look your attacker in the eyes. You can tell everything from the eyes.”
For the next hour and a half, 30 Pacific Lutheran University students and community members gazed into the eyes of invisible threats as they practiced lunge movements, punches and blocks. It was the first class in a free five-week series focused on self defense practices and principles.
Cordice — the instructor also known as a shihan — is teaching the classes, which are sponsored by the PLU Karate Club, the Center for Gender Equity (CGE) and Harstad Hall. The series is a longer, more action-focused version of Fight the Fear, an annual campaign that has hosted shorter self-defense workshops on campus in the past.
“It’s the physical piece that is going to build the self confidence,” said Dawn Cuthbertson, gender-based violence advocate for CGE.
Cuthbertson also will be teaching participants about passive techniques to self defense, such as observation, avoidance and listening to your gut.
And that’s the hope for the course — not just impressive karate moves (though you are welcome to join the Karate Club full time), but to give people basic defense skills and the confidence to use them.
Learn self defense and martial arts
The five-week self defense course continues through October every Tuesday from 6:30-8 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. The PLU Karate Club meets 7-8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in the Columbia Center. Cost is $20 for students and $40 for staff, faculty and community members.
Cuthbertson has taken a few self-defense classes before. She says they make her feel strong. “When I walk, I am not holding my head down or moving across the street because I feel uncomfortable about a group of people or anything like that,” Cuthbertson said. “And I think the more and more I do this the better that feeling will be.”
All PLU community members are welcome at the upcoming classes. For many, including Arden Phu ’18, this is the first experience with a self-defense course.
“I think that they’re doing a really great job of making it easy to understand and going step by step and explaining,” Phu said.
Cordice has taught several self-defense courses over the years. He is a Caribbean-born, Pacific Northwest transplant who has been in the area for almost 20 years; he’s led the PLU Karate Club for almost 18. He also is the chief instructor for Tacoma-based dojo, South Sound Shotokan Karate-Do.
“It gives me a sense of reward knowing that individuals might have a chance to protect themselves,” Cordice said. “Because out there in the world we have so many things that happen to people every day.”
So, what’s in store for week two of the self-defense series?
“Knife hands,” he told attendees Tuesday night. “Maybe.”