Brawley native brings self-defense training to Valley women

Ernest Chavez and his demonstrator, Terra Burkett, display how to break a choke hold during Saturday’s self-defense training.

BRAWLEY — This past weekend, Imperial Valley residents, specifically women, were invited to meet at Brawley Union High School for self-defense training. Former Brawley resident Ernest Chavez offered the classes to teach women of all ages the importance of knowing how to protect themselves and others.

Chavez currently resides in Orange County where he began offering women’s self-defense training classes. After several Imperial County residents traveled there to attend the classes, Chavez said he realized the need to offer courses in the Valley.

The realization of the importance for women to understand and learn self-defense came to Chavez after teaching defense methods to his nieces. According to Chavez, the biggest obstacle to women effectively protecting themselves is not learning self-confidence.

“It’s important for women to feel their confidence. When they try a move for the first time, they lack confidence, but after doing it just a few more times, they gain the confidence that they need for protection,” said Chavez.

His class teaches awareness skills, such as knowing how to safely turn a corner, knowing what precautions to take, and consciously taking note of exits.

Chavez explained the simple importance of a person’s posture. Predators usually prey on those who appear weak, scared, or vulnerable, he said. By maintaining good, strong, and confident posture, and being able to vocalize confidently, women can make predators think twice before attacking someone they see as more of a challenge.

On top of simple awareness skills, Chavez also taught punches, palm strikes, hammer strikes, breaking choke holds, how to fall safely, and how to get unpinned. He teaches that size and strength are not necessary to protect yourself.

“You’re more capable than you know,” Chavez said. “I try to teach that it’s not like a fight that you see in a ring on TV. It’s not even a fight. It’s survival.”

Beatriz Molina, a participant in the self-defense training, brought her daughter with her to the class. She said she teaches her daughter simple choke holds at home, but wanted to learn more about self-defense methods.

“You never know what is going to happen, and you need to be able to protect yourself,” said Molina.

Chavez said he plans to bring self-defense classes to the Imperial Valley several more times in the hopes more women will see the importance of training, push past their comfort zone, and learn how to protect themselves and others.