FAIRBORN — Self defense is having the ability to protect yourself as fast and as efficiently as possible, and Owner Tony Dewitt of TNT Midwest Martial Arts in Fairborn feels that it is essential to know how to do so.
“Look at the world, society, right now — it’s gotten way more violent,” he said. “I think people have to know hand-to-hand. Today you can’t go to the grocery store without the possibility of something happening. I think it’s vital.”
Dewitt is concerned about the heroin epidemic Ohio currently faces, which could create an unpredictable environment. An individual looking to fund their next fix could target an innocent person as a victim if the predator feels that they have something of value and would give little resistance.
But self defense starts with awareness. Dewitt said it is essential to observe all surroundings and be self assured.
When leaving someplace and heading toward a vehicle, check where the car is located and determine whether or not anyone is between you and your short destination. If so, Dewitt said the smart thing to do would be to go back into the building and ask if a trustworthy person is available to walk you to your car if this is possible. In addition, leaving the car parked under a light and avoiding parking next to bigger vehicles or being out and about during late hours can save a life, he said.
The teacher also recommends that women avoid wearing heels in and out of buildings — bring an extra pair of flat shoes that will allow running if it is needed — then change shoes upon reaching a safe place.
“Confidence alone will stop a predator because they want to take the weak, the insecure, the person who doesn’t have self-belief,” he said. “They can sense that, so if you can develop the confidence, you can take away a lot of the attacks … Our school is not only based on self defense, but we have a goal setting system inside the school that teaches them how to be successful in anything they do, but using martial arts as a catalyst to do that.”
TNT Midwest Martial Arts teaches a “total defense system.” Dewitt said it is based on “everything that works.”
“All the nonsense is thrown out,” he said. “This isn’t cage fighters that are training eight hours a day to fight professionally; that’s not what we do. The average person could come in, learn basic self defense, very practical and effective, and within three-to-five seconds be able to handle the situation and go home with their families. That’s what our school is about.”
The school operates on a monthly fee, and those taking classes are free to attend as many times as they wish. Adult classes are offered 7 p.m. six days per week. Individuals who participate move up in belt rankings depending on skill, but Dewitt said it is earned and not handed to them just because they pay to play. Those with black belts are expected to be efficient in protecting themselves.
“Repetition is the mother of skill,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to do something reactive and not responsive. Responsive is where we have to think, reactive is it automatically happens and it just takes repetition to do that.”
Before stepping onto the mat, Dewitt changed into moveable pants and took his shoes and socks off. He explained that martial arts was born in the 1800s in response to the Chinese government taking away all weapons from its citizens after it became a communist nation, leading farmers to develop means of defending themselves using their hands, feet and homemade weapons from items such as cabbage heads and seed planters.
“They started getting efficient with their farming weapons so they could stand up to the government if it ever decided to attack,” he said, adding that most martial arts schools were taught outside, and it was usual for it to be taught inside.
“So when they did get a school or mat, they always bowed to the mat with respect and leave with respect,” he said as he demonstrated and stepped into the area.
At that point, Dewitt, and this reporter — weighing in at less than 100 pounds and standing tall at 5-foot, 2-inches tall — did just that, where he began with instructions regarding how to deliver a jab punch.
Editor’s note: This story is part one of an ongoing series. Check next Saturday’s edition for part two, where more details in relation to what was learned on the mat, will be the focus.