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Staying safe

Advice from Sensei Bivins on how to stay safe and defend yourself

Sensei Deanna E. Bivins looks like she could be in “Mortal Kombat.” The highly-accomplished owner and Vice President of Red Dragon Karate holds a sixth-degree black belt. She is the first woman in the Red Dragon family to reach the elite belt level, and one of the few women in the world to reach it at all.

As a travel marshal for America in Defense, Bivins trained flight attendants and pilots to help protect themselves and passengers in violent situations. In addition to karate, Bivins teaches self-defense to students and anyone looking to be empowered at her studios in California. Here are some of her tips:


Stay in well-lighted areas at night. Go out in groups, don’t go solo. If you must walk alone on campus at night, call campus police to give you an escort.

“Interview” your dates. Know them well before you go out with them.

Be observant and aware of your surroundings. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts.

Bivins points out that the predators’ tactics have evolved along with advancing technology,  telling College News that, “Know that the new predators are the new age group that are into the new technology, checking MySpace, Twitter, and investigating who they want to target.”

As technology has changed, so have predator resources and the ability to gather a lot of personal information about someone online.

Surprising tip: Never use your name in a personal voice mail recording, someone could use it to fake familiarity with you, get more information about you, or use it to get your guard down.


Spread your keys between your knuckles. This can be used as a weapon.

The “palm-heel” strike is much more effective than a punch. This is when you strike someone with the heel of your palm. Bivins says, “Palm-heel is one of the most effective aggressive moves you can use.” Drive under the chin, at the nose, or anywhere on the body. 

Use your fingers. Claw your attacker’s face; press your thumbs into their eyes.

Surprising tip: Don’t necessarily go for the groin. This could just make your attacker angrier.

Fight for your survival. As Bivins says, “It all comes down to do you want to see your mom the next day.”

Self-defense methodology is evolving. It’s shifting from focus on stranger attacks to the complexity of attacks from familiar assailants. One goal that will never change is that of encouraging students to be continuously aware of their safety, well-being, and decision-making. Learning self-defense strategies can be empowering, and they could save your life.

No matter what, assault is not your fault, even if you were drinking. If you’ve been the victim of assault, call 911 or campus police. If you’ve been sexually assaulted you can call the 24-hour, anonymous National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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