Master Gary Josefik, a sixth degree black belt, can easily escape the grip of an attacker with just a flick of the wrist.
But what he wants local women of any shape or size to know is that with just a little bit of practice and self-confidence, they can do the same thing.
"People think martial arts is about punching and kicking," he said. "But martial arts is about safety, and what you can do to protect yourself."
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Laura Lehner, 19, of Tyrone demonstrates how to escape an attacker with martial arts instructor Gary Josefik.
Josefik recommends that women walk to their vehicles with their keys in hand to use as a weapon against an assailant.
Josefik regularly gives classes in self defense across the area, using the basis of martial arts to teach basic escape moves and defense mechanisms to be used in a variety of different situations. This includes things like going for the eyes, groin and pressure points in order to evade an attacker.
"Our objective is to teach these women how to get away and escape to safety," he said. "Rule No. 1 is if they can't see you, they don't know where you're at. Rule No. 2 is if they can't walk, they can't chase you. Rule No. 3 is if they can't breathe, they can't do anything."
Having this knowledge is more effective than possessing a gun or a knife, Josefik said.
"Ninety percent of women who carry a knife in their purse wouldn't use it," he said. "All you've done is give someone ammunition to use against you. If you can't shoot anybody, don't carry a gun. It's plain and simple. People think a gun will protect them; it won't. You have to be able to use it."
Instead, Josefik said your car keys are one of the best self-defense weapons you can have. He added that you should know which way the teeth face on your house, car or any other keys to be able to use them more effectively. Cans of hornet spray, hair spray or perfume can also be used as weapons when sprayed in the eyes, Josefik said.
Laura Lehner, 19, of Tyrone, has been training in the martial arts for 10 years. She said every woman should have a "backup plan" like this, no matter how safe they feel in their neighborhood.
"You never know what's going to happen," she said. "You can never learn too much."
Taking the time to learn some of the skills taught by Josefik is important, Lehner said, as well as practicing them by taking more than just one class.
"It's being able to actually use it in the situation," she said. "It takes time for that to develop."
But Kathy Hearn, 53 of Williamsburg, said she and her teenage daughter learned a lot from a class taught by Josefik at the Williamsburg Farm Show building in November, including tactics to get loose from the grip of an attacker and making noise to draw attention to yourself.
"It was one evening of your time, but I got a lot out of it," she said.
Hearn said the skills Josefik taught weren't necessarily easy, but they "made sense." She added that everyone present at the class, from ages 13 to 60, were able to do them.
"You didn't have to learn karate techniques to be able to do some of the things he was talking about," she said.
Both Hearn and her daughter left the class with more self confidence, Hearn said.
"She told me afterward she felt more able to know what to do in a situation like that, should it ever occur," she added.
Josefik said being positive in your abilities is also a key ingredient in keeping yourself safe.
"As soon as you think negatively, you've lost," he said. "You have to have a positive outlook, no matter what that situation is, [and think] 'I can get out of this, I can deal with this.'"
Josefik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.