In the U.S., roughly 4.8 million total assault crimes were reported in 2019, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “Crime In Alabama” estimated 4,383 total assault cases that same year with 291 of those cases being in Tallapoosa County.
Terrell Haggerty, chief juvenile probation officer with Tallapoosa County Juvenile Court, has started up a self-defense class for all women in the community, ages 14 and up.
The self-defense class is taught quarterly with the first class of 2023 being held Jan. 10 and 12 at the Wellness Center of Lake Martin. Both days are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and it costs $10 in total.
Haggerty explained the class is broken down into theory and application. The first day they go over all the different techniques, talk about situational awareness and how to be a good witness. The second day is when they start to apply the techniques and put them into practice.
“We start from head down and we work on pressure points in the face,” he said. “We work our way down to the hands into the chest to the torso down to the legs, and really, all the way to the feet as far as a stomping-type application.”
Haggerty said it’s not about learning how to fight, but rather how to apply the most amount of damage in the shortest amount of time to then run from the attacker. This is why situational awareness is also a part of the class, he said.
Situational awareness is not only a tool to keep alert, but also it helps a person notice the details of an attacker to then be able to report it to the police later.
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“Most people, they will notice the shoes because they're walking, but they don't even know if you got earrings in because they're not gonna look at it. ‘I'm just gonna keep walking.’ So making eye contact. When I say situational awareness, watch around you,” Haggerty said.
In teaching the class, his wife, Stacy, also helps as both of them have a black belt in karate. While the class is not about martial arts, it has some influence on their instructing style.
Haggerty taught karate at Central Alabama Community College for 15 years after getting his black belt in 1994. As far as the self-defense classes, they have been providing them at the Wellness Center for the past three years.
Haggerty said the class can be taken multiple times, especially since a lot of it is about muscle memory and the more someone practices the better, they will become.
“It's just some way to give back,” Haggerty said. “Because there's so many people that don't know about self-defense. Women need to know about self-defense. It's just a niche that needs to be addressed.”
For registration, individuals can call the Wellness Center of Lake Martin at 256-825-2304. Their Facebook page will also be providing updates on when the next class will be available.