Police still haven't caught the guys who have attacked four women in Seattle over the past couple weeks, two at Greenlake, one in Tangletown and one near Northgate Mall. Police have been advising women to exercise in groups and be extra aware of their surroundings.
Last weekend at Northgate's MKG Martial Arts International they held a free self defense class.
"The attacks that were happening in Seattle were right around the school," says MKG owner and head instructor Andy Wilson. "We really felt, as a school, this is our neighborhood and the person is still at large so we just planned an impromptu self-defense work shop and we had 110 people show up."
Andy says the huge response has encouraged them to set up another class on April 27th. He says every woman should learn self defense, even if it's a single class.
"We try to make sure the moves that you learn are simple. That they don't require learning leverage and balance and it's all focused around the vital targets which are your eyes, your throat, your knees, groin and feet. Attacking those targets as quickly and as aggressively as possible to create enough space to escape."
Hanan Judeh had taken self defense and martial arts classes at MKG for three years when she was attacked in downtown Seattle, across from the police station, in broad daylight.
"I was getting in my car and I put my stuff in my passenger seat. I turned to close the door and all of a sudden this guy comes rushing in and pushes me further into my car, so I'm in between the armrest and him. He said he was going to take my car and my money. I said, 'No, you're not.' I had my keys in my hand and that's when I started going for his eyes and just trying to attack him."
Her attacker had a knife, but she continued to stab him in the eyes with her keys, honk her horn and eventually get away. Hanan says self defense classes gave her the confidence to attack and run away.
"It did save my life, for sure. I've always thought I was a pretty strong person. Had I not known anything about the sensitive eyes, or where the targets are, I don't know if I would have been able to make it."
Andy says we need self-defense more than ever, since so many of us are fiddling with our smart phones and not staying alert and aware of our surroundings.
"A classic example is running, listening to headphones," Andy says. "You're completely shutting out one sense. Jogging at Greenlake, you're not going to hear somebody coming. You have to scan more. You have to scan ahead, you have to look up more."
He says they teach more than just fighting skills.
"Trusting your intuition. If you feel threatened, crossing to the other side of the street or going into a business rather than staying out on the street. All of these different avoidance mechanisms, and things that you can do, are vital."
Often times the attacker is going to be bigger and stronger than you are, but that doesn't mean you can't fight back.
"It was a very traumatic event and I do think that every woman should definitely take at least one self defense seminar," says Hanan. "We need to be able to protect ourselves. To me, that's the only way. I mean, I don't carry a gun, I'm not really into weapons."
You can find out more about MKG's upcoming self defense seminar here.