Program teaches self-defense

By Nicole Schladt

Amanda Martin is a repeat offender. A repeat offender of the S.T.A.R.R. program, that is.

S.T.A.R.R., or Self Defense Tactics and Risk Reduction, is a free 12-hour course designed to “encourage women to take an active interest in their own safety,” according to the program’s website. The course provides women with “knowledge of how to defend against larger and often stronger attackers” in a non-threatening atmosphere.

Martin, a graduate student at UK, is considered a “repeat offender” because she has taken the class five times.

“When I first heard of the program, I thought it was hilarious. I would get to legally beat up a cop,” she said. “But it really was educational and ended up being a lot of fun.”

Because of her experience with S.T.A.R.R., Martin is now able to help other women in the program.

Sgt. James Haubenreich of UK Police, a certified police defense instructor, has been the S.T.A.R.R. program coordinator since 2007.

“We want to empower women,” Haubenreich said. “We want women to feel confident walking around campus.”

S.T.A.R.R. participants meet four times a month in the basement of Blazer Hall. Each meeting is three hours long and concentrates on tactics such as kicking, punching and ground defense. Nine hours out of the 12-hour class are spent actively learning and practicing these strategies with trained instructors.

“We don’t teach fancy stuff. We teach basic stuff that all people can do,” Haubenreich said.

For this reason, Haubenreich encourages all women to enroll in S.T.A.R.R. during their time at UK, regardless of how physically coordinated they think they are. He said the class is useful for every student.

Rashida Whitley, a graduate student at UK, decided to take the class simply because she thought it would be fun.

“I stay by myself, and I thought [S.T.A.R.R.] would be a good chance to learn a set of strategies to get out of different situations,” Whitley said.

Fourteen to 16 classes are offered every year, and each class has a capacity of 14 women. About 10 women are in each class, but because of recent armed robberies on campus, the number enrolled in S.T.A.R.R. has increased over the last two weeks, Haubenreich said. All of the classes scheduled for this semester have already reached capacity.

“I really do feel confident walking around campus,” Martin said. “I suggest any girl try it at least once.”

For more information, or to sign up for a class, visit the S.T.A.R.R. website, (