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YMCA to host important self-defense course

By Alaina Denean

The Selma Times-Journal


With domestic violence being such a hot topic in the United States, many women are searching for better ways to protect themselves.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network reported that a sexual assault occurs nearly every two minutes, and one in six women in the U.S. will be a victim of sexual assault during their lifetime. The YMCA of Selma-Dallas County is trying to reduce the number of women being assaulted, by teaching them how to better protect themselves.

“I personally think that every woman should know how to defend themselves, every person should know how to defend themselves, but women in particular with how today is,” said Ashley Gaskins, a self defense instructor at the YMCA.

Gaskins has been teaching mixed martial arts self defense since he was 19, and has been a mixed martial arts instructor for the United States Marine Corps for five years, among many other qualifications.

“Self defense and martial arts has pretty much been my life since I was 12-years-old; it’s just a way for me to give back, it’s something that I’m really passionate about,” Gaskins said.

This will be Gaskins first time teaching the class at the YMCA, and he is looking forward to sharing his knowledge with the community.

He said this class is special to him because he has a wife and a daughter himself, and although his wife knows how to defend herself.

Gaskins said he wants everyone to have that same opportunity to learn how to protect themselves.

“We’re going to start out with things like how to carry yourself, the actual force of your voice, how to insure that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you may be taken advantage of,” Gaskins said. “Then we’re going to go from there on how to defend yourself, so that in a worse case scenario you are able to get away, you are able to create space, you are able to make a phone call or to neutralize a person that’s coming.”

Gaskins said he is using a no nonsense approach to self defense, which involves getting physical, and getting involved in the defense moves that he teaches.

A no nonsense approach is “not about learning what kind of forms or what kind of moves, it’s about you being comfortable, [if someone try’s to attack] you already know what to do, mussel memory kicks in and you know how to get out of that position,” Gaskins said. “The only way for you to learn to do it, and get the proper muscle memory, is to actually do it.”

The class is being offered at the YMCA every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 6. and will include six, one hour sessions. The class is for ages 13 and up and costs $30 for members and $45 for non-members.