MOUNDRIDGE — The Moundridge Recreation Commission is giving women an opportunity to learn what they can do to keep themselves safe.
A free women's safety awareness and self-defense class will be taught by McPherson County Sheriff Jerry Montagne at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at Moundridge High School, 526 E. Cole St.
Montagne has taught women's safety awareness and self-defense classes for 28 years and he said his passion for the topic stems from his concern for his own identical twin daughters.
"In general, women are smaller than predators — the guys — so I'm trying to just give them an edge," Montagne said.
According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, violent crime has been on the rise for the past three years across the state. In 2016, 1,125 rapes and 1,693 robberies were reported.
During his class, Montagne shares examples from investigations he has taken part in over his 30-year career in law enforcement. He especially focuses on advice for young women who are going to college and women who live alone.
The class is divided into three parts, each about 45 minutes long.
"The first part — and the most important one — is prevention," Montagne said.
Montagne will talk about different scenarios women can find themselves in — from everyday errands like getting their oil changed to less frequent events like traveling.
"I talk about where the dangerous places are and the safest place to be," Montagne said.
The second part of the class will cover weapons, including Mace, Tasers, stun guns and Kubotans — a self-defense weapon often attached to a keychain.
"We talk about every kind of weapon that's out there," Montagne said.
Montagne will show videos of weapons being used, talk about the pros and cons of each and answer questions about where they can be purchased and used.
Class attendees will have the opportunity to take part in a fake Mace shooting contest.
"It's serious, but yet we all have a little bit of fun," Montagne said.
The third part of the class will focus on hands-on training in self-defense techniques.
"I try to keep it really simple," Montagne said.
Montagne draws upon his decades of experience in martial arts, boxing and wrestling to teach women how to defend themselves from attacks, whether they come from the front, from behind or when the intended victim is on the ground.
"They're not going to come out being Bruce Lee, but I hope to give them a couple of things for their toolbox," Montagne said.
Moundridge Recreation Commission Director Vicky Kessler said the class was high on the list of activities requested by the city's residents.
"I started talking to community members about what they wanted to see the recreation commission bring to Moundridge and this was one of the things that came up," Kessler said.
Thinking about what to do in case of an attack and practicing defensive techniques can decrease the chances of freezing up if confronted by someone intending to harm you.
"Even people who are older can learn some of the prevention techniques," Kessler said.
To attend the women's safety awareness and self-defense class, RSVP by calling Kessler at 620-345-2608. Participants must be in eighth grade or older.
"Although we feel we have a really safe community, we want people to be able to protect themselves in whatever situation," Kessler said.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.