Craig Caudill barks and yells. He’s screaming and punching a black pad.
Later, he’s chasing high school girls around the gym demanding they throw punches and kicks his way.
He does this so the self-defense class he’s teaching will be memorable.
“Some dude comes in here and shoves a pad in their face; they’re not used to that,” he said. “What I want to do is give them some skills, so the little bit of reality I can show them in an hour is impressed upon them.”
Caudill, the owner and operater of Bluegrass Budokai, isn’t teaching the girls how to fight. Instead, he’s teaching them to do the opposite.
“In an hour, I can’t teach them how to fight,” he said. “I can only teach them how to get away. I’m trying to teach them to stay away from a fight. Fighting in reality is very different than most people think fighting is. What we want to do is to have them get away if at all possible.”
While Caudill teaches a grappling class at George Rogers Clark High School, the idea of a self-defense class came when students asked physical education teacher Bob Howard about one.
“I said, ‘I can’t teach you self defense, but I can teach you the basics ... so you’ll have a decent grasp of what you’re doing,’’” Howard said.
Then¿Howard put in a call to Caudill to come in and give the girls a more in-depth lesson on self-defense. Caudill had done something similiar for the GRC dance team two years ago.
Haley Tye, a senior at GRC, was one of those asking for such a class.
“We wanted to do something new,” she said. “It’s a usefull skill to have. With us going to college next year, we thought something like that would be scary if it did happen to us and we had no idea what to do. Now we a lot of new information to take with us to college and further on in life.”
Caudill stressed the importance of escaping the situation. People tend to have just a minute or so before their stamina and strength are depleted, he said. So he teaches the students to try to land as many strikes in a 10- to 12-second range as possible. This should give them an opening to escape.
“It was very eye-opening,” senior Victoria Tillman said. “It taught me a lot of stuff I didn’t know. I feel a lot more confident.”
Kierra Jones took the class two years ago with the dance team and said the ability to defend yourself is important for more than just female students.
“I think everybody should know how to do this, even if you’re a guy,” she said. “You never know.”
Senior Kaylee Raymer said the class was a success, as she feels more prepared now.
“Just little things like how to use our fists or how to protect your face — things you don’t think about when you’re in a tough situation,” Raymer said. “It prepares you to always be prepared for anything.”
Howard said he would like to see the idea expanded and create a martial arts class for women with a focus on self-defense.
“We would work on our physical fitness, our strength, our flexibility, but the emphasis would be on self-defense,” Howard said. “We wouldn’t be sparring like regular martial arts. When Craig’s schedule allows, throughout the year, he could come in and instruct us and let us know what we need to work on.”
Tillman said the class would definitely be something she’d be interested in taking. And Raymer says the class would certainly fit the physical criteria of a PE class.
“It takes a lot of energy to fight someone off, especially with the pads when they’re coming right at you,” she said. “You know how much energy you actually have to use in a situation like that being prepared to exert that energy.
“It’s definitely something I want to continue doing. I think the more you do it, the better and more natural it will feel, and the more prepared you’d be.”
Even without a semester-long class, Caudill seems to have gotten his message across.
“Fighting is not fun for anybody,” he said. “If you can’t avoid it, you want to end it quickly and get away from there.”
Contact Casey Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org.