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DANVILLE For marital arts instructor John Kruger, self defense is a skill that everyone should know but hopefully never needs to use.

He’s practiced marital arts for about 16 years and owns Kruger’s ATA Martial Arts with his wife Jen. They’re both members and certified instructors of the American TaeKwonDo Association.

They offer self defense classes to women and children several times a year, with the most recent class meeting on Saturday at the Kruger’s building at 440 N. Walnut St.

Michele Bower was one of the women present who took the class on Saturday, and said her children also learned martial arts from the Krugers. runner and I’ve had a few scares,” she said. “Once I saw a man cross the street and hide behind trees on Vermilion Street.

“I stopped dead in my tracks and ran back toward the YMCA.”

While Bower said she normally runs with pepper spray, she wanted to know the skills to use if she needed to defend herself.

“The way we teach martial arts, self defense is a part of it,” John Kruger said.

In his lessons, students learn the art, form, technique and practical application of TaeKwonDo. Self defense is part of the practical application component because it presents real life scenarios.

“It’s never used to go out and start anything. The best fight you can be in is the one you can avoid,” Kruger said. “But I think everyone should learn it; man, woman or child.

“You never know when you need it.”

The Krugers teach students as young as 11 years old and there is no upward age cap.

On Saturday, students learned the proper ways to build knees, strikes and elbows. Keeping it simple and focusing on how to escape someone’s control was stressed during the class. Distraction methods also were taught to escape a stranger’s hold.

“Get them focused on something that isn’t you,” Kruger said. “Pain is usually a good distraction.”

He said the most frequent question he’s asked is, “What if someone tries to steal my purse?” And his answer is, “Give them your purse.”

“You can cancel your credit cards,” he said. “Want we want to prevent is them taking you.”

After learning physical moves to defend oneself against an attacker, Kruger also taught knife and gun defense.

Kruger said the skills are simple to learn and easy to practice at home.

“It’s like anything else. If you don’t use it, it will go away,” he said. “You can practice at home by having someone grab you on the wrist and practice getting out of their hold.”
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