A Better You: The basics of self-defense

A Better You

Springfield, Mo. — Do you know what to do if you’re ever in a situation where you feel physically threatened, or someone puts their hands on you? 

Of course, that’s not something most of us like to think about, but it doesn’t hurt to practice some skills – well, it doesn’t hurt as long as you tap out and tap often. 

That’s what Natosha Willhite-Haydock says is one of the first things to know in Jiu-Jitsu – tap out and tap often. 

Willhite-Haydock is one of the owners and instructors at Kokoro Training Academy in Springfield, where they teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have nutrition counseling and offer fitness and self-defense classes. 

“It was such a natural blend to not just focus on one area, but to think of training your whole body, whether that’s the food you’re eating, your recovery, flexibility and strength so that you’re not just focused in one area but treating the whole self,” she said. 

And that’s how the name Kokoro came about.

“The word Kokoro is a Japanese word translated loosely to meaning heart, and the body mind and spirit,” Willhite-Haydock explained. 

Willhite-Haydock said when she and her husband opened the academy, they didn’t want it to be intimidating to someone just starting their fitness journey or checking out Jiu-Jitsu for the first time. 

“We don’t want this to seem like ‘show up and get on the mats and get beat up for an hour.’ I don’t want anyone to say, ‘I need to join another gym and get in shape before I do this.’ We’re here for that and we meet people where they are at. Everybody type, every person is welcome.”

So, what are the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu? 

“You can put into it what you want,” Willhite-Haydock said. “Some people come in, and they aren’t looking for an intense fitness; they are looking to learn some skills, so they can put it at the level they want.” 

“I was very claustrophobic, I had some anxiety, and repeatedly putting myself in this environment where I am in a controlled environment and the pressure of having someone on top of me or holding me down, helped me get through the panic state,” she said. “One of the biggest things we cover with self-defense is that the more you visit this environment where you are in a safe space, but having that fight or flight response, the more readily available you will be to stay calm if a situation did occur that you had to defend yourself.” 

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