A family affair
Three generations take self-defense class
While many of her friends slept Saturday morning, Kelsey Conrad, 15, joined her mother and grandmother for a morning of kicks, strikes and blocks.
Kelsey, her mother, Shelli Conrad, and her grandmother, Vickie Conrad, attended a women's self-defense seminar at Tonganoxie Martial Arts. The Tonganoxie Recreation Commission sponsored the seminar.
Paula Bollinger, assistant recreation commission director, said she wanted families to attend the seminar to learn safety -- and to bond.
"We live together, but we don't spend much recreation time together," Bollinger said. "Family time together is very empowering. It strengthens your bond, and it's just healthy."
The Conrads, who live in Tonganoxie, also have enrolled in a pottery class through the commission.
Kelsey, a sophomore at Tonganoxie High, said she spends time with her mother and grandmother every day, unlike most of her friends. And Kelsey said her grandmother isn't a typical grandmother.
"She doesn't act like a grandma," Kelsey said. "My grandma's cool."
Still, Vickie said she was surprised when Kelsey said she wanted the three generations to attend the seminar.
"I was just surprised that she wanted to do it with us, just because she's a teenager, and they think they are all-mighty and powerful," Vickie said. "I was just so pleased that she did because everyone needs to protect themselves."
Although Tonganoxie has a low crime rate, Bollinger said, it is important that women are prepared to defend themselves, especially those who work in other cities.
Vickie's retirement from SBC two years ago has given her more time to travel to nearby cities alone.
"I've never been afraid to go anywhere by myself," Vickie said. "I'm used to it being the way it used to be.
"I need to know that if push comes to shove, I can protect myself, and I certainly want that for my daughter and granddaughter."
Rex Hutton, owner of Tonganoxie Martial Arts, taught the seminar with assistance from his granddaughter Jessica Carlson, 13.
Hutton, an eighth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a former professional boxer, said it was especially important for teens to know self-defense. That knowledge builds confidence and character and helps combat peer pressure, he said.
On Saturday, Hutton told the 12 attendees that mothers played an important role in fostering leadership and self-confidence, two important components of self-defense.
"You don't want to be followers," Hutton said. "You want to be leaders.
"It always starts with the mothers. When you're sick, the mom's always there. When it's time to eat, the mom's always there. A fighting mom is more important."
Hutton showed the women dozens of techniques, including swift kicks and blocks, designed to fend off an armed or unarmed attacker.
"Eyes, throat, groin -- that's what you want to aim at," Hutton said.
The women also learned how to apply pressure to an attacker's nervous system.
Shelli said the pressure point control was the most important lesson she would take from the class.
Hutton stressed the importance of body language. He told the class to always be aggressive and have control, no matter their surroundings.
"If you've got the knowledge and techniques, you're going to win," Hutton said.