Students learn self-defense skills in safety training hosted by university police


Lauren J. Mapp

Edward Murillo, Enrollment Services staff, practices using his elbow as a body weapon to protect oneself during an attack from behind during the personal safety and awareness training Oct. 25.

by Lauren J. Mapp, Staff Writer

Employees from the San Diego State Police Department trained members of the student body and staff in personal safety and awareness during a lesson on Oct. 25 at the Cuicacalli seminar room.

Led by SDSUPD Corporal Mark Peterson, a certified defensive tactics instructor, the beginner-level training session taught participants how to block, strike and use other defensive tactics. Peterson said that the tactics taught in the class are ones proven to be effective and are similar to the training given to the department’s officers.

One of the most important things to remember during an attack is having a “survival mindset,” Peterson said.

“The survival mindset is the knowledge that no matter what happens, we’re going to go home,” Peterson said. “With the knowledge that you’re going home, the body can do great things to overcome adversity when it knows that we’re going home…promise yourself that you’re going home and empower yourself with that knowledge.”

Legally, victims have a right to self-defense within a reasonable degree, meaning “reasonable force to overcome the attack,” Peterson said.

Avoiding distractions such as staring at one’s cell phone while walking and playing loud music on headphones are ways to avoid an attack, or to be able to detect if one might occur, he said.

The class Oct. 25 was comprised of eight participants — both students and staff — with an even split of male and female students.

Having been in situations in the past where she felt uncomfortable and unsafe, business marketing junior Nicolette Martinson said she took the class to be more prepared in the future.

“I want to make sure I’m protected — I have night classes, so I walk to my classes late at night, and I want to make sure that I am safe,” Martinson said.

One of the most important things that she said she learned during the training was the individual defense techniques.

“Something I’ve never learned before is when someone’s actually touching you, how to do it — you can watch TV or watch a video online, but it’s not getting the hands-on experience,” Martinson said. “It’s always better to be educated when it comes to anything, so I think it’s best to take a class and make sure you’re prepared for something to happen since it happens to so many people.”

Marketing communications junior Angel Lam said building awareness and knowing how to apply the training was the most important aspect that she learned during the training course.

“I think the most important thing I learned from this workshop was recognizing my instincts and then pairing it with a technique,” Lam said. “Be aware, be active and take a role not just in your own safety but in other people’s safety.”

Palash Sanghvi, construction engineering graduate student, wanted to take the class in case he needed to defend himself in the future.

“The biggest thing is to always make space — get some space for you so that you can see your potential target and hit it,” Sanghvi said.

Wanting to avoid being in danger in case he is the victim of a crime was Sahil Sharma’s, construction engineering graduate student, motivation for attending the training session.

“Crime has been increasing nowadays, so it’s always good to learn some self-defense techniques,” Sharma said.

In addition to attending a training session offered on campus, Peterson suggested utilizing the Safety Escort program on campus.

“(The Safety Escort) program provides safe transport to and from campus locations during hours of darkness,” Peterson said. “When walking on campus at night, use well lit walkways, walk with friends, and be alert to what is occurring around you. Report suspicious activity to the police department as soon as possible.”

To get a Safety Escort, use either a duress (blue light) phone on campus or call (619) 594-6659. The service is available every day from dusk to dawn and community service officers will accompany students, staff and faculty to parking lots, Greek Houses, dorms and Albert’s apartments, according to the university police website.