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More than a routine; Tigettes rehearse self-defense

BA Tigettes recently went through a self-defense class led by the Oklahoma National Guard.

The choreography was unlike any other the Tigettes had practiced.

Sure there were sweeping arms and kicks, but the purpose was not a dance performance, but for protection and safety.

Two members of the Oklahoma National Guard – Sgt. Michael Mumford and Sgt. Sgt. Nick Olson – spent two hours with the Tigettes teaching self-defense.

“I feel it is important that our girls feel safe and that they can protect themselves,” said Meag Warren, Broken Arrow Tigette coach. “We teach a lot of leadership and team building, but are we preparing girls when they leave the program and go to college and possibly face situations where they may need to know self-defense?”

The session included discussions about how to handle uncomfortable situations that included the necessary words to say or by just leaving the area when inappropriate conversation or action has begun. The final stage was practicing self-defense techniques.

“The goal of this training is so you can surprise your attacker with an aggressive response that allows you to run and get away,” Mumford said as he prepared to demonstrate defensive techniques. “It’s not for you to fight and try to beat up the attacker, because in most cases he will be able to overpower you. We want you to react quickly and run. Just get away as fast as you can.”

Mumford suggested running to places like “QuikTrip or Walmart. Go where there are lots of people. You just need to find a crowd.”

He also offered that yelling “fire” when being attacked was more effective than yelling “help” or “rape.”

“I don’t know why it is, but studies have shown more people are willing to help someone if they hear ‘fire’ than if they hear someone screaming ‘help’ or ‘rape,’” he said. “I know, it doesn’t make sense, but we’ve discovered that yelling ‘fire’ works best.”

Just like learning a routine for competition or Friday night halftime performance, Warren said it’s important to have girls prepared for a potential threatening situation.

“If you’re scared and unprepared, and you’ve never had any sort of training, and if you get attacked then you can’t defend yourself because you don’t know what to do,” she said.

Kayeleigh Cooper, a Tigette who has martial arts training, understands the importance of self-defense and was glad to add another strategy of resistance to what she already knows.

“When I heard they were going to have a suit, I was excited so I could go full out and everything,” Cooper said. “I’m glad the Tigettes experienced this. Even if it’s not going to happen, it’s better to be prepared than not. If you’re not prepared for something then you’re not prepared for anything.”

Cooper added that the girls, who rehearse a dance routines daily, need to practice what they learned from Sgt. Mumford and Sgt. Olson as well.

“If they just remember to go over the moves, even if you’re sitting at home in front of a mirror, it will help with muscle memory in that situation,” she said. “You’re adrenaline gets going, you get scared and you’ll forget. You’ll remember after that you could have done this.

“If they really want to take this into consideration when it comes to protecting themselves, they need to practice what they were just taught. They’ll be better off if something like that does happen.”