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Learning to protect oneself

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Rocky Mountain Self Defense teaches confidence, awareness and strength

By Deborah Swearingen

Picture this: You’re pointing a gun at someone and demanding their wallet. And then you hear it.

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“Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior?”

Probably not what you were expecting, right?

The words may be unexpected, but it is exactly what Penn Springs of Littleton would choose to say should he ever find himself in a similar predicament. In fact, Springs said, the nonsensicalness of the words is the perfect reason to say them.

Springs learned the importance of distraction in disarming a person in a self-defense class at Rocky Mountain Self Defense, where he is a student. The school opened earlier this year in South Jeffco. Springs joined soon after the January opening in an effort to get in shape and learn new defense mechanisms.

“I’m pretty much a pacifist, but it’s better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war,” he said.

The school, opened by Bridgett Comer, teaches Vanguard Krav Maga self defense, a less formalized version of Krav Maga. Comer learned Krav Maga at a studio in California before moving to Colorado and opening a school of her own.

Krav Maga is Hebrew for “contact combat,” and it is a form of self-defense and physical training first developed by Imi Lichtenfeld for the Israeli army in the 1940s.

“They hired Imi to come up with a system that would work for everybody,” Comer said. “So if you’re the smallest person in the room or the biggest person in the room, whatever the technique is, it has to work for everybody.”

This is something Springs witnesses on a daily basis when he practices Krav Maga.

“I just love getting in shape,” he said. “I’m not a little guy, and I’m able to participate in this. I’m getting stronger.”

On top of being a great workout, self-defense teaches confidence, awareness and strength.

“It’s important to feel confident in your own body,” Comer said. “One of the things I love about this system is, especially for women, you can see the difference.”

People often begin self-defense classes feeling nervous and self-conscious, she added. But after a month or two, the confidence shift becomes apparent.

An important part of self-defense is understanding the options in an emergency. Physical action should not necessarily be the first line of defense, Comer said.

“If somebody’s pointing a gun at you and saying, ‘Give me your wallet.’ Give them your wallet. I’m not going to tell you just kick their butt or take the gun away,” Comer said.

But self-defense provides a person with tools for protection if necessary.

Brittany Hughes of Littleton joined the class early on.

“I was raised with guy cousins. You wrestle. You fight. You mess around. But I wanted more technique,” she said. “My philosophy, my family’s philosophy, is you can always learn more.”

While Hughes has a lot of upper-body strength, she likes that Krav Maga teaches people of all shapes, sizes and strength levels how to defend themselves in dangerous situations.

Comer offers a variety of classes and price packages at Rocky Mountain Self Defense. She also offers two weeks of free classes so that newcomers can try it out. To learn more or sign up, visit www.rockymountainselfdefense.com.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042.