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Big Bad Wolf: Self-Defense and Peaceful Conflict Resolution

August 18, 2010

“Stop! Get away from me!” These words could be heard loud and clear at stores surrounding the St. Louis Family Martial Arts Academy. Fortunately these yells were not serious shouts for help, rather practice runs for 15 young men and women with Down syndrome who, every Tuesday for six weeks, learned the in’s and out’s of defending themselves. The “Big Bad Wolf: Self-Defense and Peaceful Conflict Resoultion” event held by the Pujols Family Foundation had begun.

Owner and instructor, Dwight Trower, led this summer class and taught participants how to block, kick, run, roll, and yell if ever presented with a dangerous situation. “The improvements and confidence that developed in each of them was astounding. Once again they have proved the world wrong. They have achieved so much and, through events such as this, are breaking so many stereotypes,” Program Manager, Jen Cooper says. “They have demonstrated that they too can stand up for themselves and learn practical tactics to stay safe.”

An obstacle course used for speed, agility, and memorization was a favorite component for all over the last few weeks. Focused and prepared, Zach Simmons took on the course and, along with seventeen-year-old Lauren Hennicke, had the fastest times in the class. As the weeks continued, the kicks were higher, the punches were harder, the shouts were louder, and the confidence levels shot through the roof.

The last class was bittersweet as each participant told Trower and the parents their favorite piece of self-defense. Kicking, punching and running were the answers given by most.  Miki Cunningham boldly answered that her favorite part was “getting to hit Todd”, referring to a class where every student had the chance to hit and kick a punching bag held by Executive Director of the Pujols Family Foundation, Todd Perry. Laughter filled the room as the kids reminisced on their six weeks together.

From the basic martial arts moves to memorization drills, these participants worked hard and had fun developing ways to keep them strong and safe in everyday situations. With a medal around their neck and a smile on their face, each young man and woman walked out with a greater sense of accomplishment, prepared for anything, and anxious to find out how to continue with these newfound skills.


August 18, 2010
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