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06 Oct

Sensei Morgan: Self-defense for Women

In today’s world, the scary reality is anybody can find themselves in a dangerous situation at any time.

But the good news is that anyone can learn to defend themselves, and one local resident is reaching out to teach them how. Morgan Duzoglou, a life coach with MD Values Coaching and sensei at Key Biscayne’s Academy of Martial Arts, is teaching a women’s self-defense seminar Saturday, October 21 from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Academy, 328 Crandon Boulevard, suite 206.

The event is open to women age 15 and over, and workout attire is suggested. Registration is $45 in advance and $50 at the door; contact 305-365-0120 or morgan@mdvcoaching.comto sign up.

Duzoglou said women can gain a lot from the program, from mental tips aimed at creating better situational awareness to physical strategies that transcend age, size, fitness level, strength, etc.

“This is specifically for women to be able to defend themselves. It’s not a fitness class; it’s not a karate class. Your physical abilities, your shape, your size – none of that matters,” she said. “A predator doesn’t always look for a certain type of person. It can be someone in their 60s or 16, and you’re capable of defending yourself whether you have a six-pack or you’re a couch potato.”

Indeed, any woman can find herself in a tight spot at any time – something that Duzoglou knows from experience.

“This is no longer little beach-town Miami. Miami is a city, and no matter where you’re going, you have to be aware,” she said. “We’re so lucky that we live in this little bubble where we think nothing is going to happen, until it does, and then it’s too late.”

It’s happened to Duzoglou twice.

She noted she’s always on the go, traveling to new places, and on two of those occasions she was the victim of an attack – in one case by a perpetrator armed with a knife. The fact that she escaped is testament to the self-defense training she grew up with thanks to her father, Academy of Martial Arts founder Robert Duzoglou.

“I’ve been attacked two times, because even though I’m aware of my surroundings, I look like a very easy target – it’s completely unavoidable,” she said. “If I didn’t have the background I have and my father didn’t train me the way he did, I would have been in trouble.

“Was I hurt? Yes. But I can literally say, ‘You should see the other guy,’ because he was on the ground and I was able to run away.”

Those experiences – and the fact that Duzoglou has been hearing more and more stories from other women about being attacked – motivated her to organize this month’s seminar. “It shakes you to your core, and it puts a lot of different things into perspective. And I’m seeing it more and more often from friends and family and people I work with,” she said.

Duzoglou said the class will give women a variety of strategies to defend themselves.

Much of the focus is on hands-on, scenario-based training that gives women a chance to watch and try out different techniques.

Duzoglou will be joined by men who have earned blackbelts at the Academy of Martial Arts to demonstrate self-defense tactics and give the women a chance to practice in a controlled, safe environment. “I’m going to create all these different types of scenarios, because you never know what is going to happen to you,” she said. “You can be grabbed from behind, choked, someone can grab your bag. Someone can have a weapon. It can be dark, or the middle of the day.

“But you can still have the wherewithal to defend yourself.”

Along with the physical training, Duzoglou will talk about situational awareness and following one’s gut instinct.

She noted women are often busy and distracted, walking to their car while talking on or looking at their phone. “If we become more aware of our surroundings and our own actions, it’s half the battle, because there’s a lot that can be avoided,” she said.

Duzoglou will share information about what predators look for in their targets, and share how women should follow their gut to avoid becoming victims. She said she’ll also talk about how women must be aware that predators come in all shapes and sizes.

“It’s tall, short, thin, heavy, all races, all cultures. It can even be a neighbor or someone within a family,” she said. “It’s hard to comprehend, but that’s the reality.”

With that in mind, she encouraged women to come out and bring friends and loved ones, and said everyone over age 15 is welcome, noting she set an age limit simply because “some of the things we’re going to be talking about are not necessarily appropriate for a younger age.”

She’ll also encourage her students to share the information they gain at the seminar. “The way I’m going to teach it, it will be very easy to pass along to loved ones,” she said.

In the end, Duzoglou hopes she can save women from frightening or even deadly encounters. “I think the best thing I can say is just to be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “If your gut tells you, ‘Don’t go down that street,’ listen. It’s for a reason. That is most certainly half the battle.”