By Whitney White
For the WPT
“I’m moving to a new location next month and my mom is worried sick about me getting in and out of my car in the dark by myself after work.”
“What do you do if someone sneaks up on you and grabs you from behind?”
“What if there are multiple people attacking you?”
These were just a few questions and concerns voiced by the girls at the Dorroh Lake Teen Camp a few weeks ago when participating in a self-defense seminar.
This camp is offered every year during the first full week of July and averages around 30 campers that come from all over Mississippi and even surrounding states to Dorroh Lake Baptist Assembly north of Bellefontaine. The goal of the camp is to encourage girls to create Christian communities and in doing so they are taught through worship, mentoring and acts of service.
These campers enjoy the fellowship and fun in the sun as they canoe, swim, create art projects and participate in team-building exercises. However camp director Ashley Pounds-Entsminger also wanted to heighten their camp experience this year by incorporating new activities, such as horse therapy and self-defense.
“In order to get my driver’s license, my parents required me to earn my red belt in taekwondo and be able to change a flat tire,” Ashley said. “I love these girls as if they were my own, and in this day and time, I think it is absolutely necessary to be alert and be able to defend yourself.
“I sincerely pray they never have to use these (self-defense) skills, but I am grateful for the opportunity for them to learn and also realize, especially right now, that there are good policemen out there. For him to share his precious time with us says so much.”
A pure self-
She was referring to Calhoun City Chief of Police Tito Lopez, who led the self-defense seminar. He began his study of the mixed martial arts at age 18 and quickly allowed this to become a way of life, not just a sport.
He became a master at the age of 43, and developed a style of mixed martial arts by borrowing from various styles he studied (Kenpo Karate, judo, kickboxing, taekwondo and jujutsu) to create a pure self-defense system that is effective and applicable for real-life situations.
“The main question people ask me is, “Can a smaller person really defend themselves against a larger opponent?” And the answer is yes! It is absolutely possible. I’m not going to say it will be easy, but it can be done once you learn your correct movements and the precise targets you need to strike,” explained Lopez.
‘Peace of mind’
After two 12-hour shifts, Lopez willingly took the time on his day off to educate these girls.
“Times are different. The world is cruel,” he said. “Kids face more than we ever thought about. You never know if your attacker will be at school or on the street.
You don’t know when or if it will even happen. You don’t know whether they will be male or female, armed or unarmed; but you need to be prepared. I feel that having these skills will give them, as well as parents, much more confidence and peace of mind.”