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Local 10's Janine Stanwood punches cop

Miami Beach police hold free self-defense classes for women

Miami Beach police officers want women to be able to defend themselves if confronted by a would-be attacker. That's why the department offers free self-defense classes for anyone interested in learning.
Miami Beach police officers want women to be able to defend themselves if confronted by a would-be attacker. That's why the department offers free self-defense classes for anyone interested in learning.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach police officers want women to be able to defend themselves if confronted by a would-be attacker. That's why the department offers free self-defense classes for anyone interested in learning.

"This is our 20th-something session of this class now, and it's been quite successful," said Officer William Collado.

Collado said the idea for the female-only classes started after a group of women taking the department's Citizen's Police Academy expressed interest in self-defense techniques.

The three-hour class includes classroom discussion covering situational awareness and teaching women how to read body language.

Students then go to a gym area, where they learn and practice fighting stances, punching and kicking maneuvers, and how to get away from an attacker if taken to the ground.

Local 10's Janine Stanwood participated in a Saturday class with seven other women, who said the experience was worthwhile and important.

"This is wonderful. It's a great way to learn self-defense and for women to empower themselves," said participant Magda Vergara.

After the women learn several basic maneuvers, they put them into practice.  

Miami Beach Police Officer Ralph Vera squared off with each woman, wearing pads and gloves, for a minute-long physical fight.  

"What we teach you here is to be strong, to confront your attacker," Vera said. "To escape when you have to or otherwise get help. But until you get help is to hold your own, and that's exactly what these eight women did."

The class is open to all women, not just Miami Beach residents.

Click here for more information about the self-defense classes.

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