Ramsey High School is known for preparing its students for life outside of its walls physically, socially, and academically. For the past four years Mrs. Gorman, a Physical Education teacher at Ramsey High School, exemplified this as she has been teaching self defense to seniors in an effort to keep them safe.
With a background in martial arts and a husband who is a black belt, Mrs. Gorman has always believed in the importance of self defense. “I think that it’s important to be empowered, both physically and emotionally, and to be confident in your abilities,” she explained. Four years ago, Mrs. Gorman, along with the rest of the Physical Education Department, took part in a full day self defense seminar with an internationally renowned martial artist named Phil Ross. Phil taught them basic self defense techniques and eventually, the faculty became certified to teach the skills they learned.
The focus of the class is not to engage in violence but rather, as Mrs. Gorman puts it, to educate and prepare the students in case of an emergency. Ramsey seniors are given basic self defense training, as they are instructed at white and yellow belt levels.
The course concentrates on the three A’s: avoidance, awareness, and action. Mrs. Gorman encourages students to become more aware of their surroundings, including noting possible exit strategies or potential dangers. She also strives to give them necessary defense skills when a threatening situation arises. Among other techniques, the students are taught wrist-grabs, chokes, and bear hugs, which Mrs. Gorman explains are about creating a distraction and time. “Self defense is not about fighting,” she adds, “It’s more about preventing dangerous situations and knowing how to get out of them.”
Additionally, during her own personal training, Mrs. Gorman heard a story of a girl who attended college in Washington D.C. and was attacked by a serial rapist but managed to survive the encounter using basic self defense. The main factor in this girl’s survival was her ability to create time in a dire situation.
After teaching at Ramsey High School for twenty-five years, Mrs. Gorman explains that the students are like her own children. “Hopefully, my students will never have to use what I’m teaching them, but it’s important for them to be able to defend themselves outside of the Ramsey bubble.”
Moreover, Mrs. Gorman believes that self defense is more than just physical. “I want my students to be self advocates,” she adds, “I want them to have self awareness, accountability, and responsibility.” Through self defense, Mrs. Gorman hopes to not only provide her students with defensive skills, but to instill trust and confidence in themselves and their abilities.