United Martial Arts Academy

File / The Outlook

Russell Wright teaches locals self defense in upcoming seminar at his Martial Arts Academy.

The United Martial Arts Academy in downtown Alexander City is offering self-defense classes for men and women in the Tallapoosa County area the next two weekends.

The entry-level classes are the first part of the Citizen Safety Series the academy is hosting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. The class will teach citizens how to avoid, deescalate and disarm potential threats and situations. The class is for everyday people with limited experience, time and physical ability. 

Russell Wright, owner and operator of United Martial Arts Academy, has been a fixture in the Alexander City community for more than 30 years now and is eager to offer self-defense classes in trying times. Wright said the country has become increasingly dangerous and all need to learn how to have a fighting chance.

“Your background, religion and political affiliation means nothing in our class,” Wright said. “We can all agree that we are in a strange time and there are desperate people. The goal of this class is to empower and inspire people to get proactive about their family’s safety and protection.”

Wright said Americans live in a reaction-based culture, meaning they wait to be attacked or robbed before taking a self-defense class when really it should be the other way around. 

“Around 85% to 90% of the time people just freeze while being robbed,” Wright said. “Only 3% fight back and it’s an even smaller amount that knows what to do when fighting back. People feel helpless and they’re not.”

The class is six hours and will provide attendees with lunch and a goodie bag. The class for individuals is $200 and if you bring a partner, he or she can purchase the class for $150. Payment plans are available to those who need assistance. 

According to Wright, everyone who participates in his class tells him after how much they learned and how they got more than their money’s worth. Couples are not only welcomed, but encouraged so both know what to do if they are being robbed. Either together or individually, they will be equipped to physically and mentally handle the situation.

“Think of it like personal protection insurance,” Wright said. “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

Wright has 36 years of martial arts training and in 2001 began classes to get his certification in non-lethal protection classes along with a large range of other protection courses. Wright said he felt a calling to teach the class after an assortment events changed his life including the murder of his grandfather at his jewelry store, friends being raped and getting a firsthand look at the 1990 Gainesville murders at the University of Florida. 

Wright said there are three type of people in the world: wolves that look for trouble; sheep that don’t look for trouble; and somewhere in between there are sheepdogs there to protect sheep from the wolves. 

“In my experience, the ‘that can’t happen to me’ guy always has it happen to him,” Wright said. “Those are the people that are always the least prepared for situations and the worst part is they stood in their own way because I offered them the tools to protect themselves.”

Over the years Wright has received phone calls from people who have taken his class thanking him for his knowledge and how it got them out of a sticky situation or how they avoided one altogether using Wright’s techniques.

According to Wright, space is limited and filling up fast. To find out more information or to reserve a spot, call 256-329-9199. Registration should be filled out three days prior to ensure a spot is reserved.

Ryne Gallacher is a sports writer for The Outlook.