Self-defense classes kick off again

Self-defense classes kick off again

Kylie Truscello

Students learn self-defense moves under the instruction of Grand Master Slezak

Kylie Truscello, Contributing Writer

Self-defense has become a popular topic on the Pitt-Johnstown campus for some young women, as Patrick Slezak, a martial-arts expert, is teaching a women’s self-defense class at the Wellness Center.

Slezak held a preliminary class in January that is being followed by a five-week course.

Slezak, an eighth-degree grand master, owns Slezak Karate School in Davidsville. He said he has over 45 years of martial arts experience.

“One of the first aspects of self-defense, and I stress, (it) is awareness– knowing your surroundings,” said Slezak.

He said the content of the class includes teaching blocks, punches and kicks.

Slezak said the students will learn how to deal with ground attacks and body grabs. He said they also will learn how to defend themselves in a dangerous situation.

Slezak said he was not aware of this class being taught on campus before.

Slezak said that he was told of an attempted robbery last semester on campus. He wants to teach self-defense to women so they know how to react in such a situation.

The class is available only to UPJ women and the cost is included in a student’s activity fee.

Slezak said he would like to continue the class in the future, but said he is not aware of any plans to do so.

Slezak is assisted by two other instructors, including his son, Michael Slezak, a Pitt alumnus and a fourth-degree master with over 19 years of experience.

UPJ freshman Lisa Walker, who is taking the class, said she believes that self-defense is something important to learn.

“I have never had the opportunity to take a class like this before, and I am really excited that the school offers it,” Walker said.

Walker said after taking this class, she hopes to be less afraid when walking alone across campus at night.

UPJ freshman Josie Bagnato said she believes that learning self-defense can make women aware of what could happen and how to respond safely in such cases. She said she believes that this class is a fun way to learn self-defense.

Neither Walker nor Bagnato has had any previous self-defense experience. Both said they learned about the class from UPJ emails.

Slezak said all women should possess the skills necessary to feel safe in all environments.