October 30, 2014

Women learn to fight back at SMMSH

Tim Barnum
Kim Mezey knocks away a simulated punch from Monte Oswald and then, as instructed, attacks the eyes of her attacker.
Tim Barnum
Cori Spresny, right, demonstrates the proper way to deter a knife attack simulated by Monte Oswald, left.
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By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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STANDISH — Everybody likes to feel secure. After a women’s self-defense class on March 10 at St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital (SMMSH), 16 women from the area have a better understanding of how to lead a safer, less worrisome lifestyle.

The 16 women learned defense techniques from Monte Oswald, a former boxer and state police officer from Newberry who, with his family, founded Eye Fight Back – a self-defense program.

“There’s a lot of people who need to feel secure,” Oswald said. “Someone has to be out in our communities training our more vulnerable citizens and that’s why I enjoy what I’m doing now.”

According to SMMSH Purchasing Manager Sharon Walker, a student in the class last week, the women learning defense measures also enjoyed the class.

“I think it was probably one of the best informational classes I have attended in a long time,” she said. “There was so many positive things that came out of that class and as we were walking out, I think that was the consensus.”

SMMSH Community Relations Manager Holly Bender said the positive reaction to Oswald’s class is not uncommon.

“He (Oswald) was here two years ago and we had a good attendance at that point,” Bender said. “We had some requests to bring him back.”

When Oswald, 49, returned last Tuesday, his theme of self-defense could be summed up in four words – go for the eyes.

“With the eyes, it’s not so much pain … the fact is they can no longer see,” he said. “You don’t have to hurt him (attacker), you just have to disable him and if he can no longer see you, he can no longer attack you.

“It doesn’t mater if it’s (attacker) a man or woman, or if they’re drunk, high or mentally unstable, the eye’s are the most vulnerable place to deter an attack.”

Oswald added that no matter what gender a person is or what state of mind they are in, pain or discomfort in the eyes causes a reflex to bring the hands up to protect the eyes, thus freeing the victim from the attacker’s grasp.

And while the subject of self-defense to stop an attack is serious, Oswald says by lightening up the situation, the women become more open and have more fun, which helps them learn better.

“One way that people release tension and anxiety is laughter. Knowing that, we try to keep it lighthearted,” Oswald said. “That way, it becomes more humanized.”

Oswald was a former state police officer in Bridgeport and also trained other officers in defense. He, along with his family also operates a ranch for rescued bears in Newberry. For more information, visit www.eyefightback.com.

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