Self Defense now at South

Jerin Saji, Staff Reporter

Escaping choke holds, practice on hitting pads, learning to combat like real life. These are the skills learnes in the new Self-Defense unit added into the freshmen/sophomore curriculum, according to Dawn Fendt, physical education teacher at South.

Stephen Stanicek, instructional supervisor of the Physical Education Department, proposed it to the Board of Ed this summer.

“They felt there was a need for it on two ends,” Stanicek said.  “One, the student body would like to have a class like this. Two, because of the nature of what’s happening out in the world today, they thought this would be a good idea to give the kids an awareness of what’s going on and a few skills to help them along the way.”

Through this unit, students are being taught skills to be able to defend themselves against a threat.

“At the end of the unit, we are hoping that students have an understanding of how to be more aware of their surroundings, understanding that things do happens and to be aware of them,” Stanicek said.

Fendt also has a reason to be teaching this class.

“I think it’s great for the girls to learn how to protect themselves especially as they leave Glenbrook South and go off to college and they are out late at night,” Fendt said.

According to Fendt, the response from the students is very positive.

“My sophomores [are] very excited for this unit to come and it’s the last unit of the semester and they all are very excited to have it,” Fendt said.

About two years ago, a survey was handed out by Laura Duffy, one of the health teachers at South, to the students in health classes about some activities they would like to have in the Physical Education Department. The majority preferred to have a class about self-defense, according to Stanicek.

The teachers did some professional development training and a curriculum project during summer, according to Stanicek.

“They’ve been given a curriculum, and they’ve been taught how to align it [to the three weeks of this unit].” Stanicek said.

The curriculum includes many class discussions and PowerPoint presentations for the freshmen and many physical practices for the sophomores, according to Fendt. The curriculum is also mostly about understanding concepts, according to Stanicek.

To teach the class, most of the resources are derived from a former police detective, J.J Bittenbinder.

Bittenbinder has almost 23 years of police service and more than 10 years in private practice.  Bittendbinder is also the subject of feature stories in numerous national publications; also, he is in constant demand for personal appearances throughout the country. Bittenbinder is also the host of his own nationally syndicated television show, ‘Tough Target,’ according to Stanicek.

“His concepts, they make good common sense and [are] easy to understand,” Stanicek said.

Other than that, two types of art are also being taught through this unit.

The first is “Jeet Kune Do,” a hybrid martial arts system and life philosophy found by Bruce Lee. The second one is “Krav Maga,” a non-competitive eclectic self defense developed in Europe. This art involves striking, wrestling, and grappling, according to Fendt.

Although there was some anxiety between the teachers, Stanicek believes that it is mostly because of being new to teaching this new unit and they will be feeling better as they teach it. On the other hand, many other teachers were excited to approach this new unit, according to Stanicek.

The parent association greatly supported this idea.

“Probably the most positive response we’ve received was from the parent association … they were very positive and thought that this is something that GBS really needs,” Stanicek said.