IU Martial Arts Clubs Offer Self-Defense Workshops due to Rise in Sexual Assaults

IU’s Club Sports Federation and martial arts clubs offered three self-defense workshops in late March. Junior and CSF treasurer Meghan Frost said the Martial Arts Committee started planning the workshops last fall due to the increase in sexual assaults on IU’s campus.

The workshops, offered on a Thursday and over the weekend, covered beginner self-defense tactics from tae kwon do, judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

“We decided that maybe this would be something that the IU community could use,” Frost said.

The workshops were the first of their kind from the martial arts clubs and the CSF. Frost said she was impressed with the turnout on Thursday’s Tae Kwon Do night, which was around 18 people. She said the events were planned so that students could walk away with beginner skills from one workshop or attend all three and still learn something new every night.

“I’m really impressed with how the progression of the lessons turned out,” Frost said of Thursday’s Tae Kwon Do night. “People are going to learn a lot of useful things here.”

The CSF and the Martial Arts Committee plan to offer the workshops next year, likely in the fall and spring, Frost said. She said the CSF hopes to plan it earlier in the semester.

Jim Thomas, IU’s Tae Kwon Do Club senior instructor and the workshop instructor, has been practicing tae kwon do for almost 30 years. He went into martial arts because he was bullied as a kid.

“When I was young, I was a skinny kid,” he said. “I was bullied, and I thought it would be nice to have some kind of power, some kind of ability to take care of myself.”

But he tells his students that even though many of them come into tae kwon do to fight, they should only use self-defense tactics if absolutely necessary.

“Unless you have no choice or it’s life or death or something, if it’s very important and you have to fight,” he said. “And if you have to fight, you have to win.”

Jim Thomas, the IU Tae Kwon Do Club senior instructor, speaks about why self-defense is so important for students.

Thomas said he thinks it’s very important for students to learn self-defense and to build a kit with different tactics so they can use them when they’re facing an emergency situation.

“I think it’s important, honestly, especially for women.” “I think women are especially at greater risk.”

Thomas often uses humor in his workshops because it’s part of his personality. But he said he also uses it because students are nervous. It helps defuse tension with the scary topic of assault on participants’ minds, he said.

“If someone says, ‘You’re at risk of being really seriously hurt,’ how do you process that?” he said. “Do you laugh it off? Do you go hide under the bed? But, I have always used, personally, humor as an approach.”

He said he wants people to know there are resources like the workshop and that people seek them out without shame.

“There won’t be as much stigma to saying, ‘I had trouble or I need help,’” Thomas said. “What I want is to make this not news.”


Thomas speaks about mentally preparing oneself in case there’s a need for self-defense.