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Sexual Assaults Prompt Self-Defense Class at Coralville Martial Arts Studio

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CORALVILLE, Iowa - With several recent warnings about sexual assaults issued by state universities, and controversy surrounding University of Iowa' president Sally Mason's comments pertaining to sexual assaults on campus, it's a crime that's received a lot of attention in early 2014.

It prompted Lonnie Matthews, head trainer at Kang's Martial Arts in Coralville, to start a self-defense class open to anyone who wants to attend. Matthews showed a small group several techniques in her studio on Saturday morning.

She used practice dummies to show how thumbs in the eyes, an elbow to the ribs, or a stomp on top of a foot can dissuade a would-be attacker from seeing an assault through. Matthews wants to show people that self-defense doesn't need to be complicated.

"It's not fancy martial arts techniques or things like that; they're just very practical, everyday things," Matthews explained.

Things like staying away from alleys at night, or how a simple twist of the wrist can break an attacker's hold.

"It doesn't matter how tight they grab. If I open my hands and twist, they can't hold on," Matthews said, demonstrating her escape technique to the class.

Matthews said these are skills anyone can learn. "There's a lady here that's in her 70's that's able to do it, all the way to college students."

College students like Taylor Lubben, a junior at UNI, who said this class taught her that methods of self defense aren't quiet, nor are they pleasant.

"It's quite gruesome, like the eyes and stuff," Lubben said. "But if you're in that situation, it's really good to know."

Matthews said a bit of unpleasantness can save you from a bad situation.

"It's not fool-proof, it's not guaranteed, but it's at least something that's a tool," Matthews told us.

She now plans to offer the class on a quarterly basis.

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