Women strive for fighting chance in defense class



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    Bridget Austin, of Nanticoke, gives an ascending blow with her fist on an instructor’s arm pad during Sunday’s free women’s self defense class at Galli’s Fighting Chance School of Self Defense in Exeter.
    Len Galli, right, demonstrates self defense moves with fellow instructor Steve Willison during Sunday’s free women’s self defense class in Exeter.

    EXETER — More than 40 women gathered on Sunday in an effort to learn self-defense skills designed to keep them safe in a variety of situations.

    The free class, geared to females, was held at Galli’s Fighting Chance School of Defense, Tunkhannock Avenue, Exeter.

    Owner Leonard Galli, former Exeter policeman, said the program was designed to teach “tactical everyday protection strategies intended to avoid assaults altogether.”

    “The mind is the most important tool of self-defense,” said Galli, “women need present a confident attitude and be aware of their surroundings.”

    Instructors reminded participants to walk with their head up, shoulders back and, above all, to pay attention.

    Attendee Bridget Austin, Nanticoke, who was invited by her sister-in-law, said the event was a wonderful opportunity for women to gather and learn about protecting themselves.

    “Some of the techniques were a bit different than I thought they would be,” said Austin, “for example, using the palm of your hand.”

    Instructor Ralph Kovalski reminded participants to go for the “eyes, nose, throat and groin,” encouraging them to use their voice as a means of deterring an attack.

    “Do what you’re comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to be loud,” said Kovalski.

    He also stressed to young people in attendance, “this is for use when your life is in danger, not when you’re simply upset with someone.”

    Deb Switzer, West Pittston, said the event was a wonderful way to spend three hours on a snowy afternoon.

    She was especially impressed with young participants who seemed fully capable of grasping and implementing concepts presented.

    “My partner was in fifth grade and I was impressed with her energy and ability,” said Switzer.

    That fifth grader, Madeline Chervenitski, Harding, who attended with her mother, said, “above all, I learned how important it is to stay calm.”

    Both martial arts and self-defense are a family affair to the Gallis clan.

    Michelle Gallis, Len’s wife, manages the facility, with children Brittany, 23, and Brandon, 18, both black belts, serving as instructors.

    Even Olivia, 9, is skilled in martial arts.

    “We’re a family oriented facility,” said Ron Rome, who coordinates media relations for the school. “We provide activities for those of all ages.”

    The facility, in business for more than 20 years, has seen several generations pass through their doors, giving a “family feel” to the business that goes beyond simply instruction.

    Galli said the event was simply geared a providing a “fighting chance” for women during their daily lives.

    He anticipates holding such events on a regular basis as a benefit to to the community.

    “Although we live in a relatively safe area,” said Rome, “we need to always be alert and prepared.”

    Rome credited over a dozen instructors who volunteered their time and efforts to make the event a success.

    The program is also available to local businesses, community groups, service organizations and social clubs at a nominal fee.

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