WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Recreation Department hosted its second annual Free Self-Defense & Safety Seminar last weekend at West Orange High School (WOHS) in the Tarnoff Gymnasium as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The seminar was presented by Mobile1 Krav Maga, a martial arts organization that teaches real life hands-on self-defense techniques.

The two main instructors Israel Nava, a fifth-degree black belt and certified Krav Maga instructor recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, Korea, and Denis Watson, a level-three black belt in the Israeli ​Self-Defense System.

“I want to spread the knowledge and make everyone feel powerful with a sense of accomplishment,” said Watson, who began his career in the late 1980s and has served in the U.S. Marine Corps for seven years.

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During the seminar, attendees were split into groups and mirrored the instructors’ demonstrations of defensive actions to take in various scenarios. They also spoke about what individuals should avoid during a confrontation, such as using pepper spray because 15-to-20 percent of people will not be disabled by it. Carrying pepper spray in a bag will only make the carrier’s intentions obvious to the perpetrator, according to the instructors, who explained that the element of surprise is more effective and escape is always the best option.

Instructors also distributed flyers to the attendees about safety tips and how to protect their personal belongings, such as keeping their cars locked at all times, practicing awareness, using the Internet wisely and more.

The event saw close to 80 people in attendance, including WOHS junior Giovanna Winning, who discovered the event through the WOHS Mountaineer Mentors Google Classroom page.

“I really wanted my daughter to attend to learn some basic safety techniques and just become more aware of how to be proactive with her personal safety,” said Winning’s mother, Jennifer. “I was pleasantly surprised that she actually enjoyed learning the techniques and would like to learn more in the future.”