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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

I highly recommend taking a self-defense class, especially with Rachel Mahloch. My experience at Boulder Karate was amazing: there were tears, laughter, sweat, and lots of good conversations. Because the instructor began the class with a group discussion about the reality of gender-based violence, everything we learned became applicable to real life. This class triggered emotions for people that they didn’t even realize they were still storing and helped us confront our fears. This was the most vulnerable yet supportive workout class I have ever attended. 

Rachel teaching a push kick

After the introductory conversation about why learning self-defense is important, especially for college-aged women, we were taught how to use our elbows, hips, fists, and feet to fight back. I learned how to hit with my palm and throw a punch. The instructor taught us to groin kick and push-away kick to simultaneously hurt and get away from an attacker. We practiced scenarios like being put into a headlock and targeting soft spots around the face, groin, knees when kicking or punching. When practicing these skills I couldn’t help but smile because it was so physically empowering. 

Practicing our punches

Besides the actual self-defense movements, I also really appreciated learning about the psychological aspects of standing your ground and protecting yourself in threatening situations. The instructor emphasized the importance of keeping calm. Instead of screaming or crying, she taught us to calmly but firmly ask an attacker, “What do you think you’re doing?” and tell them, “Get the hell away from me.” We also learned the value of knowing when to fight and when to calm down, because not every uncomfortable position requires violence. Throwing a punch is one thing, but being exposed to mental self-defense is a whole other skill many women are never taught. 

Rachel showing me how to target an attackers neck

One of the most impactful statements I have ever heard is, “Fear gives you wrinkles”. In my self-defense class, I was taught how to physically and psychologically defend myself, but most importantly, how to throw away my fears. With the frightening statistics about rape, assault, and muggings, it was very comforting to be taught by another woman how to act if I am ever grabbed inappropriately, being followed at night, or if I witness another person in a vulnerable position. Taking a self-defense class was an eye-opening experience and everyone, especially college-aged girls, should also attend one. 

Lanaya Oliver

CU Boulder '24

Lanaya Oliver is the Editor-in-Chief and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Editor-in-Chief, she oversees a team of editors, is the lead publisher and editor, and works as a campus corespondent. Outside of Her Campus, Lanaya is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is double majoring in both Psychology and Spanish with a minor in Sports Media. Her writing career started in high school when she was elected the position of school wide poet laureate after winning a poetry contest in her sophomore year. Now Lanaya’s writing has evolved from creative pieces to profiles and articles for her Her Campus articles. In her personal life, Lanaya is an ACE certified personal trainer and teaches both cycle and barre classes. Fitness is her passion and more often than not she can be found lifting weights, riding a bike, or running. She also enjoys being outdoors, binge watching movies, spending time with friends, thrift shopping, and munching on any white cheddar flavored snack she can find. Lanaya hopes to find a balance between her love for writing and her dreams of working in the fitness industry in her future career.