Regular items such as rolled magazines, umbrellas and pens can be used as self-defense weapons. These are everyday items many people have on hand.

United Martial Arts Academy is increasing its women’s self-defense workshops due to a rise in community interest. 

Owner Russell Wright said the academy is partnering with Alexander City Methodist Church for a women’s self-defense class and received at least 12 calls about self-defense when it was closed around Christmas and New Year’s.

“I am tired of opening my Facebook feed and seeing children missing and I want to see as many girls in our town given a fighting chance,” Alexander City Methodist Church secretary Celia Weldon said. “I do not want to see another Aniah (Blanchard) or (Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney) on my news feed and if this will help prevent some of that I’m all in.”

After hearing from women at the church interested in a class, Weldon reached out to Wright after Thanksgiving. The church is trying to recruit more women to attend the upcoming class set for 9 a.m. Feb. 15.

Wright said it is common for the academy to receive community interest after a national tragedy occurs. 

“I think a problem we come across often is we as a society are more reactive,” Wright said. “We don’t try to be preventative (with self-defense).” 

The academy previously held women’s self-defense classes only twice a year because of a lack of interest. Four people showed up to the last session, Wright said. 

Wright usually holds the classes before college starts to give young women a refresher.

“(Kidnapping and assault) does happen to good girls,” Wright said. “It happens to small-town girls. It does happen from great families. It does happen to people from a small Mayberry town.”

The self-defense class goes over reading situations, profiling behavior and how to avoid danger. It also gives women tools to fight back and defend themselves.

“We love working with young ladies because just to see the personal change for them to realize it’s not as scary as (self-defense) seems to be, the empowerment that comes from knowing what you’re truly capable of and how you don’t have to be scared,” Wright said.

The class goes over scenarios where women can be attacked and also teaches trained gun owners how to clear people from a scene with their handguns.

“The entire gambit is what we do,” Wright said.

One thing a person can do to prevent becoming victims is to look invulnerable, such as having good posture and looking around with his or her head up.

“If you present yourself as (inattentive) it makes you very vulnerable,” Wright said. “It makes you a very rich target in that regard.”

Wright said everyone needs to be their own bodyguards because police arrive after crime happens.

“Unless (the police) happen to be sitting there the right exact moment at that right exact time, their help is unavailable in that situation,” Wright said.

Some common ways anyone can defend themselves from attackers include having a pen on hand, rolling up a newspaper or magazine and using an umbrella. The user should have a steady control on these items instead of flailing them around at the attacker, according to Wright.

“It’s practical for everyday people,” Wright said. “It’s nothing crazy and scary, but it’s also tactically based so that that way in the tactical field it’s all about surviving and coming home.”

When answering a stranger at a front door, keep a foot on a moveable doorstop to prevent someone unwanted from coming in. By having the stop and using force, it’s easier to close the door against someone trying to force his or her way in.

Anyone interested in the self-defense class can call Wright at 256-329-9199.