P.E. self-defense curriculum teaches valuable skills

Tejpal Virdi, News Editor

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Written by Tejpal Virdi.

Every other year, physical education (P.E.) classes spend two-and-a-half weeks learning self-defense. Although the unit will not be taught during the current school year, it will be offered for the following year. The curriculum, which is a state standard, teaches students about personal safety and how to disengage from harmful situations.

According to P.E. Department Instructional Lead Donald Briggs, the unit starts with the fundamental tactics but still achieves significant depth. “There are some kids that have never punched anything before,” he said. “They could not punch for a minute.” By the end, however, students will have learned how to get out of a hold, the proper ways to fall and the safest procedures to use when handling firearms.

Although the length of the unit may seem short, P.E. teacher Braumon Creighton, who taught self-defense at JLS, believes it is enough time to hammer in the basics. “Usually hearing the messages once is enough to make people more aware of their environment, which is what keeps you safe,” he said.

Gunn currently takes a preventative approach to self-defense that applies to a wide range of circumstances in which students may find themselves. “It’s a P.E. class where you are doing [physical] activity, but there is a lot of situation learning too,” Creighton said. “I try to make it as real-world as I can.”

According to Creighton, one of the most important parts of physical safety is keeping yourself away from unwanted situations. “In general, it’s about escaping and getting away from trouble; it’s about recognizing danger,” he said. “You don’t have to take two years of judo to defend yourself.”

When in potentially dangerous situations, Creighton urges students to be confident—a feeling that can come with the lessons offered by the self-defense class. “When you do teach them and give them the opportunity, it builds confidence, which is the main thing that keeps you from getting attacked,” he said. “Confident people don’t get attacked.”

These ideas may not have stuck with all students, however. Senior Michael Zheng does not recall the unit very well, and says he did not learn very much from it.

Zheng recommends the teachers to make the material Four more memorable and go more in-depth on the important aspects of self-defense. “I think [the class] should just work on giving the basic tactics, like getting out of a hold,” he said. For the 2019-2020 school year, the P.E. department plans hold a meet- ing to discuss the revamping of the unit through the addition of more specific situations.