MONTVILLE, NJ – Female Montville residents learned important techniques thanks to one Girl Scout’s gold project when Ambassador-level scout Skylar Lee decided to teach self defense techniques to earn the award.

Lee, who is a senior at Montville Township High School, has been taking ishin jujitsu since she was four years old through Montville Township Recreation, and is now a black belt. She has been in the Girl Scouts since she was in kindergarten, she recently told TAPinto Montville.

“I feel like violence against women is an issue, especially for women in college, but also for women of all ages,” she said. “I opened the class to women from 9 to 99 and we’ve had women in their teens to their 50s attend. I’ve been teaching the attitude to avoid being a victim as well as how to escape and do damage, like what to do if someone grabs you.”

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The students practice on a dummy, as well as on Lee’s gold award supervisor, martial arts sensei Eli Brickman, who teaches the Montville Rec bushido classes. Both the self defense classes and the bushido classes were taught at the wrestling barn on Passaic Valley Road.

Lee said she spent time researching techniques, adding in what she has learned over the years and utilizing advice from Brickman to put together the curriculum for the four one-hour classes taught for free in November and December.

Brickman had high praise for Lee and said it has been great working with her to teach the classes.

“I think it’s awesome that Skylar is doing this for her gold award project, and I think everyone learned really well but also had fun – and this should be a fun event,” he said. “She did great – she set a great example and I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley!”

At the class, the students learned techniques like stomping on the rise of the attacker’s foot, elbow jabs, and throat punches.

“Everything we’re showing works on anybody – I don’t care how big they are,” Brickman told the class.

Lee also reminded the class that running – with purpose – is an excellent strategy.

“There’s nothing wrong with running away!” she said. “Take off your shoes if you’re wearing heels so you can run more easily. It’s better to run well and maybe have cold feet than to get caught.”

Brickman also told the students to trust their instincts.

“Change your mindset,” he warned. “If someone gets into your car and says, ‘Drive,’ drive into a tree, smacking the passenger side. Don’t let them get you to drive to some remote area – they’re going to kill you. Trust your feelings. If you get a bad feeling, trust it. If you get nervous, it’s real. Act on your feelings and get out of the situation.”

Krystle Donohue of Towaco said she thought the classes were awesome because they taught effective ways to deal with an emergency situation.

“I know now how to get out of a bad situation and save myself and my kids,” she said. “I feel more confident and it makes me feel more secure to be out with my kids.”

After the Dec. 4 self defense class was over, Lee sparred with students in the nearby bushido class to show her considerable skills.

Lee will also be making an instructional YouTube video as the “global-based” portion of her project, a sort of lasting program that reaches outside of the community for many to access and use.

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