Class Gets Kick Out of Self-Defense

Don’t make the mistake of taking SCC instructor Ria Westphal lightly. Westphal is a college transfer instructor who teaches art at Sampson Community College but has other specific sets of skills that she teaches as well.

Westphal is a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo and has practiced other martial art styles for the past 20 years. Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. She used these skills to teach students, faculty and staff who attended a recent session on how to defend themselves in dangerous situations.

“Regardless of your skill level, you are always able to defend yourself if you stop and think,” says Westphal, who has also taught Basic and Intermediate Self-Defense for several educational entities. “Of course, it always helps if you have formal training but there are some simple techniques that can be taught and learned that can help you when there is trouble and that, along with better awareness, is what we want to teach.”


The class is designed to teach participants how to avoid becoming a victim. Pictured left to right are Esther Miranda-Aguilar, Ria Westphal, Sarah Burgin, Carla Dixon, Carol Watson, and Gabriella Mandujano.

Physical self-defense is the use of physical force to counter an immediate threat of violence. Such force can be either armed or unarmed. In either case, the chances of success depend on several parameters, related to the severity of the threat on one hand, but also on the mental and physical preparedness of the defender on the other.

Many styles of martial arts are practiced for self-defense or include self-defense techniques. Some martial arts train how to escape from a knife or gun situation, or how to break away from a punch, while others train how to attack. To provide more practical self-defense, many modern martial arts instructors now use a combination of martial arts styles and techniques and will often customize self-defense training to suit individual participants. For more information about the self-defense session, contact Sarah Burgin at or 910-900-4088.