Praying for safety

Posted on 26 Mar 2010 at 12:01am
By RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Defense by Design could make this couch potato not to be messed with

I SCREAM | Evil may lurk but now I can fight back.

I’m not a petite guy — dammit. My jeans remind me of that every day. Being the optimist that I am, I can find the silver lining in it. With a larger (ahem) presence, shady peeps aren’t gonna mess with this as I walk the rough streets of Junius Heights at night. Hey, a guy has to have his Cheetos. But one man says I have it all wrong and that perhaps, my ass could just be a kickable one.

Yipes!

On Saturday, Jeff McKissack will teach how to Be Your Own Bodyguard at the Cathedral of Hope for their Fit For Faith ministry. I dig that its acronym is BYOB, but McKissack wasn’t gonna tolerate my approach to defending myself.

"People need training for different reasons. Petite people can be easily overpowered, but bigger guys can be just as much if there’s more than one person attacking you," he says.

I figure I can Kill Bill my way out of a situation as ninjas wait around to attack.  But McKissack burst my bubble saying these guys don’t take a number before attacking.

OK, I get it. So now my interest is piqued and McKissack and Fit for Faith lay leader Johnny Humphrey are happy to show me the error of my ways.

"First, knowledge is key. If someone jumps you, you’ll be well prepared. If Satan comes around the corner, you’ll definitely be better prepared," Humphrey laughs.

The Fit for Faith ministry is Humphrey’s baby and its goal is to combine fitness, nutrition and spirituality. He saw McKissack’s Defense By Design program as an ideal opportunity to incorporate the group’s intentions. He assures it’s not just for gym rats but instead, it’s inclusive of everyone wanting to approach life in a healthier fashion.

"I thought FFF could be this place where people come together. We’re not trying to push church at all. I want people to know there are wonderful resources available to help. This class is that. It’s not about ‘gays as victims,’ it’s about education," he says.

Fair enough, but really, I just want to know if after the class, am I gonna be able to kick some ass. I’ve always needed to know how to judo chop the neck to knock someone out. That would come in handy at Wal-Mart when the person in front has more than the number of items in the express lane.

"Let’s use what common sense we do have," McKissack says. "There is not as much as emphasis on punching as protecting. In the first hour…"
Whoa, first hour?

In his session, McKissack spends the first part of the class discussing the psychology of danger and how to assess a troubling situation. The second half, he goes into the physicality of protecting yourself. With his 23 years of martial arts experience, two hours seems like a short enough time to spend learning how to protect myself. McKissack is so good, he even taught me a protective move over the phone.

"When people are down on the ground, they cover their head. Why not do that while you’re up? So just bring your fists to your head and your elbows out. This protects the head. Whatever happens, you don’t want to lose your head," he says.

Humphrey and I agreed on one thing. We both hope we learn some cool ninja moves.

"I haven’t done any self-defense training so I’m hoping to learn a little judo chop," Humphrey says.

 Me too. But after all this talk of self-protection, multiple attackers and head knocking, I’m thinking it may just be safer at home. Inside. On the couch.

 Be Your Own Bodyguard at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. March 27 at 2 p.m. $20. CathedralofHope.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 26, 2010.

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