Self Defense at Montrose


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Faye Stearns ‘24 and Meredith Ehrenzeller ‘24 practicing their strikes after school.

This year, Montrose offered a new activity for the first time: self defense. Mrs. Stearns brought the self defense class from her Impact Martial Arts studio to Montrose. She wanted to instruct this class at Montrose for a reason. Twenty years ago, she was attacked on her way back to her apartment. About five years after this encounter, Mrs. Stearns started taking self defense classes. She wanted to prevent young girls from having to go through the same painful experience she did. She has continued with her classes and is now a black belt. Her daughter, Faye Stearns ’24, also assists with this class. Last Saturday, she passed her junior black belt test. 

Students in self defense have learned a variety of techniques through these past few weeks. They learned the importance of using their voice and practiced what to do in an uncomfortable situation. There are three main stances: cautionary, warning, and defensive. They practiced seven different strikes: jab, eye poke, palm, elbow, knee, groin kick, and front kick. Mrs. Stearns also taught them how to get out of five situations: choke hold, wrist grab, bear hug, ponytail pull, and mount. 

One of the most important parts of self defense was fall breaking: how to fall so as not to get injured. Mrs. Stearns believes that the students are stronger than they think. At the beginning of the season, she had the girls do planks for as long as they could, and as many pushups as they could. During the last class, she had the students do planks and pushups again, and try to do more than they could at the beginning of the year. She helped the students find their own strength.

Upper School students decided to join self defense for many different reasons. Hana Shinzawa ‘24 said: “I have to run alone in my neighborhood sometimes, so I wanted to be able to defend myself if something ever happened.” They also loved the class, and the new things that they learned. Cate Lynch ’24 noted: “I loved learning new strikes and growing in confidence in my own strength. I wish that there were more classes, but I can’t wait for next year.” As many seniors are getting ready for college, they wanted to be prepared. Erin Resnick ‘21 stated: “As a graduating senior, I took self defense to help me feel more confident in going away to college alone. I think everyone should have at least some basic knowledge on how to protect yourself if you’re ever in a bad situation. I loved that Montrose offered this course because we were able to learn in a safe and comfortable environment.”

Although students had a lot of fun during self defense, they also understood the gravity of the situations they were preparing for. Self defense will be offered next fall as a sport. Both new and returning participants will be welcome. The new participants will start at the basics, while the returning will continue where they left off this spring.


Leslie Baker ‘24, Contributing Writer