“Hai! Ichi, Ni, Hitotsu, Futatsu!” These Japanese words, translating to “Yes! One, Two, Three, Four,” were shouted by the sisters of Sigma Delta Tau as they executed self-defense techniques in the Student Center Ballrooms.
Sigma Delta Tau (SDT), a national sorority with a chapter at Montclair State, held their third annual self-defense class, co-sponsored by the Montclair State University Police Department (UPD) on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Melanie Ventura, a senior and Sigma Delta Tau’s vice president of philanthropy, was inspired to conduct this event because one of their philanthropies is to prevent domestic violence, which she said “is very important when it comes to self-defense because they correlate.”
Domestic violence is a worldwide epidemic. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines domestic abuse as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault…or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
The NCADV said that “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the sisters of SDT wanted to spread awareness of this epidemic.
One of Sigma Delta Tau’s missions is empowering women. As a result of taking this self defense class, Ventura said, “We are empowering ourselves, we are learning how to defend our-selves when a situation comes.”
The sisters of SDT learned self-defense techniques from self-defense instructor and UPD deputy police chief, Boyd Lyons.
Before being promoted to deputy police chief last December, Lyons was a captain for seven years and has been in law enforcement for 29 years.
Not only is Lyons an experienced member of law enforcement—he is also a sixth-degree black belt and has done martial arts for 42 years. “I started at 2,” he chuckled. Lyons owned and taught at a professional karate school called Iron and Silk for 29 years before closing it in 2005.
“Self-defense has always been my life,” Lyons said.
The Street Smart Self-Defense Program held at Montclair State is taught by Lyons every Monday night throughout the academic year and ensures that participants will “learn practical and effective methods of street-smart self-defense, gain confidence and discuss crime prevention issues while having fun.”
During the class, the sisters learned everything from hand-to-hand techniques to using essential items carried everyday, like keys or a jacket, to protect themselves.
Lyons kept the class interactive, displaying self-defense methods on his five assistants and having the sisters practice on one another.
Miranda Dambrot, a sophomore and sister of Sigma Delta Tau, said, “I felt great after taking the class. I feel prepared if, God forbid, something ever happens.”
Ventura takes what Lyons teaches to heart and feels more prepared after taking the class. She works in Newark and Elizabeth, and said, “They aren’t the nicest areas. I have been approached, but I kind of ran away in a sense. I want to bring awareness that it does happen and can to anyone.”
Both Dambrot and Ventura, who are part of the 62 percent of females thar make up the student body, feel safe at Montclair State. Lyons said that Montclair State is overall a safe campus and has one of the best university police forces in the country. However, Lyons still believes that “anywhere you are, you aren’t totally safe.”
“Predators are going to be in any area where they can succeed in whatever they want to do,” Lyons said. “There’s always going to be predators and that doesn’t mean females have to be prey. If we take ownership for our own safety and our awareness, we are going to be in a much safer place.”