By Curtis Michaels
Roswell Daily Record
Despite romantic images in movies, there is no such thing as a glamorous fight. When you have to defend yourself, you’re running on autopilot. You may as well forget looking cool.
Hopefully you’ll never need to defend yourself, but the need is all too common in today’s world.
Whether stuck in a dark and dangerous place, needing to get out of a relationship that has become abusive, or on the receiving end of violent crime; knowing how to defend yourself can help you keep a calm mind in the face of danger, and thereby make better decisions.
In fact, learning to defend yourself will give you the tools to remain calm through all of life’s struggles and traumas.
Fortunately there is a place in town where you can learn basic self-defense for free, from a man who knows self-defense. He’s a third-degree black belt in karate, grew up on the south side of Chicago, and is dedicated to his work.
The place is First Presbyterian Church, at 2nd and Kentucky.
The instructor: Paul Mysza.
Mysza teaches self-defense at no charge because he believes the discipline one learns is good for the individual, the family and the community.
Mysza says: “If every child in town would take my class, the teachers would love me.”
Mysza moved to Roswell with his family to begin his sophmore year at Goddard High School. The year was 1979. The Myszas moved to Roswell from Chicago (he’s a life long White Sox fan) and young Paul was already adept at defending himself.
As a young man moving from the excitement of the city to a town the size of Roswell, he was frustrated. It didn’t take long for his frustration to turn to anger. Mysza found an outlet in football, but he also found an outlet in defending the underdog. Mysza has never tolerated bullies, and if he saw someone picking on a student who didn’t want to fight, he’d take up for them. He spent quite a bit of time in the principal’s office.
Mysza graduated in 1982 from Goddard High School and went on to teach in the Roswell School District. He’s also become an accomplished musician and can be seen playing at various venues with his wife Rachel.
As a third-degree black-belt, Mysza speaks of his responsibility: “With my training, I have the upper hand in any conflict now. That gives me a greater responsibility. If we do unnecessary harm to someone in a conflict, our teachers will come to court to testify against us.” It is vital to learn self-control.
This is largely why the focus in his free self-defense classes is on how to walk away from a fight if at all possible. Of his self-defense class he says, “I can teach you how to get away from anybody, but I won’t teach you any offensive moves. If you try offensive moves without full training, you could get seriously hurt.”
Mysza stresses the importance of regular practice. “If you practice regularly and with focus, your response will be automatic. You will probably surprise yourself!”
Mysza began studying karate 20 years ago, but didn’t keep focused until 10 years ago when he found a teacher that was a good fit. Since then he has been a dedicated student of the art.
“Karate is an art, and it’s beautiful. Some teach the art of karate. We teach the effectiveness of karate.”
Mysza teaches twice a week, Monday and Wednesday evenings at the First Presbyterian Church.
Besides teaching free basic self-defense classes, he also offers paid classes in karate to those who want to fully develop their discipline and skills.
The free self-defense course is more than a class in false confidence. You will learn real skills. “I teach how to disarm people that have guns and knives.”
In this day and age, an attacker is often under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “In self-defense class we teach how to deal with people who are under the influence of drugs because someone on drugs has different pain tolerances, strengths and vulnerabilities.”
The first rule of avoiding a fight is to stay out of a situation where you have to. Avoiding dark alleys and parking lots, and not traveling alone through unfamiliar areas are good ideas.
But sometimes we end up making the news in a way nobody wants to.
With proper training in the art of self-defense you can increase your safety, and the safety of others in some of the worst situations.
Keeping a cool head in a crisis, is of infinite value. You only have to invest two hours a week to start building the skills and your confidence.
By Curtis Michaels