West Orange High School Girls Get Lessons in Defending Themselves Against Sexual Attacks

Sarah Eichelberger practices with Dave Ordini during the presentation at West Orange High School. Credits: Christy Kass
West Orange High School students practice moves they learned. Credits: Christy Kass
Dave Ordini and Michael Romano talk with the high school girls about defending themselves in the event of a sexual attack. Credits: Christy Kass

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Giggling quickly turned to silence as the girl on the mat struggled with the man twice her size who was trying to hold her down and force her legs apart. She got away when he released her, and he turned to the rest of the girls watching.

“She did good,” he said. “She was going for my eyes.”

Dave Ordini of the Millburn-Short Hills Athletic Club was demonstrating what the female students at West Orange High School would face in the event they are attacked. Ordini, along with Michael Romano and Susie Greenfeig, recently visited the school to teach the girls some key things about Krav Maga Strong, a simple yet highly effective self-defense system.

Sign Up for E-News

The trio gave the self-defense training in each gym class throughout the day, varying it with each class so the girls could talk and compare their experiences later.

“Women tend to always think if they’re attacked, they will just kick the attacker in the nuts and run,” Romano told the girls. “But if I’m trying to rape you, I’m aroused. My pain receptors aren’t there. If you kick me in the nuts, I won’t feel it for about eight minutes.”

While each of the classes generally started with laughter and nudges, it wasn’t long before the girls realized the seriousness of the training they were getting. Especially when the instructors told them that one in every five girls is sexually assaulted during her freshman year of college, and that’s just the girls who report it.

“It’s not about sex, it’s about physical dominance,” Ordini said. “If she keeps me at bay, I may beat her up instead of raping her.”

The instructors showed the girls different chokes and maneuvers to get out of them.

“If you can breathe, you can fight. And if you can fight, you can get away,” Greenfeig said.

One of the key points the instructors stressed to the girls is that if they’re being attacked, go for the eyes. They called is “scooping melon balls” and demonstrated how to use the thumbs to dig into their attacker’s eyes.

“Yes, it’s gross,” Greenfeig said. “Your thumbs are going to get sticky. But which would you prefer, a little stickiness on your thumbs, or getting raped?”

Krav Maga relies on one’s natural instincts and reflexes to fight off attack. Many of the girls, in addition to using some of the techniques the instructors showed them, wriggled and pushed and kicked and fought to get out from under the two much larger male instructors.

Statistics show that within 23 seconds, if a woman is fighting him off, the attacker is thinking about leaving. And if she’s going for his eyes and other soft tissue, he’s also thinking of how to protect himself.

Krav Maga differs from the martial arts in the way it’s executed. While martial arts involve getting set up and into positions, Krav Maga is just plain old dirty fighting.

“It’s the difference between a pistol and a machine gun,” Romano said. “With Krava Maga, you just keep fighting, however you can.”

Greenfeig said one girl who recently had some Krav Maga training at the athletic club actually had to put it to use when a man tried to attack her in New York. The girl screamed, “Please don’t hurt my baby!” and the man ran off. Greenfeig said using a word like “baby” will cause others around to notice what’s happening, much more often than just shouting “Help” does. The girl was unharmed after the attempted attack, but she did start taking full-fledged Krav Maga classes.

“I’m happy the board of education decided to let us have this training here,” said Ron Bligh, director of athletics and supervisor of health and physical education at West Orange High School. “If this keeps even one of our girls from getting attacked, it was worth it.”

Student Sarah Eichelberger said the training was eye-opening for her.

“It’s really interesting,” she said. “I had been considering taking martial arts, but now I’m thinking I should do this instead.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Merry Christmas from TAPinto Millburn-Short Hills

December 24, 2017

MILLBURN, NJ - The staff at TAPinto Millburn-Short Hills wish all our readers who celebrate a Merry Christmas.  

Millburn Police Investigate Theft by Nordstrom Employee

February 14, 2018

Press Release February 13, 2018


On February 6, 2018 Millburn Police Officer Royce stopped a 2009 Jaguar XKR as it exited the mall for having no front plate. The investigation led to the arrest of 50 year old Christopher Garibian of Morristown on an outstanding traffic warrant out of Morris Township. Mr. Garibian was placed under arrest, issued summonses, and released after posting ...


AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link:

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!


Upcoming Events


Sun, February 18, 3:00 PM

Lawton C. Johnson Middle School , Summit

New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra Free ...

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, February 18, 3:00 PM

Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School, Summit

Come to NJIO's Winter Concert on Sunday, February ...

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, February 19, 7:45 PM

Education Center, Millburn

Millburn Board of Education Meeting

Millburn Township Republican County Committee Call for Potential Candidates

February 17, 2018

Registered Republicans interested in serving our community are encouraged to run for the single open Township Committee seat in the 2018 election.  The Millburn Township Republican County Committee invites prospective candidates to arrange an interview by contacting Chairwoman, Mary McNett, at 973-376-3345 or via e-mail at mary.mcnett

Ms. McNett noted ...

Harry Connick, Jr. to Appear in the World-Premiere Production of "The Sting"

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee-Producing Artistic Director, Todd Schmidt-Managing Director), recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, has announced that Harry Connick, Jr. will star as Henry Gondorff in the world-premiere production of The Sting.  The musical is based on the 1973 film, and will have its world premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse for a limited run from March ...

Millburn Church to Host Renowned Organist Christopher Houlihan

On Sunday, February 18, at 4 pm Christopher Houlihan, hailed as “dazzling” by the Wall Street Journal, will play the renowned Baroque-style Beckerath tracker organ at St. Stephen’s Church, 119 Main Street, Millburn, New Jersey, in a program featuring works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Robert Schumann, Louis Vierne, and Leo Sowerby.   Mr. Houlihan will offer his own ...