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Fighting back


March 19, 2011

Jane Dawson teaches women how to feel safe.

Like many women, Jane Dawson thought wrestling around as a kid with her brothers had toughened her up. She learned otherwise when she was assaulted several years ago.

"Fighting with my brothers was different; their intent was not to kill me," says Dawson.

Now trained in krav maga, an Israeli form of self-defense, Dawson, 46, has a right to feel safe. To help other women, she visits workplaces around Milwaukee to conduct a lunch-hour crash course in personal safety. "One thing I’m concerned with is a lot of women don’t have time to train," she says.

Dawson’s one-hour presentations provide tips on preventing an attack and teach how to fight back. So far, employers including North Shore Bank, Johnson Controls, Kaplan College, the American Red Cross and the Wisconsin Realtors Association have held workshops.

A session also was held at a school in the Avenues West neighborhood, and Dawson would like to do more work with teenagers. "These girls can be surrounded by violence, even just waiting at the bus stop," she says.

Dawson tells women to walk tall and confidently, and to be ready to fight and scratch their way out of an attacker’s hold. At just 5-foot-3, Dawson is reputed to be "a force to be reckoned with" in classes at Krav Maga Milwaukee, where she serves as outreach coordinator.

Krav Maga Milwaukee, which offers classes in Brookfield and Bay View, calls its program Fit 2 Fight Transformative Self Defense, and Dawson says she indeed was changed by learning how to fend off an attack. "People who knew me say, ‘You’re back,’" she adds.

Dawson is certified to teach the use of a hand-held self-defense tool called a spikey, but notes that a handful of sand or whatever is available to throw in an attacker’s face can provide an opportunity to escape.

"It’s said that if a woman fights for 10 seconds, her attacker more than likely will give up. They want someone who’s just going to give in and give them what they want," says Dawson. "As long as you’re alive, you’ve won the fight.



This story ran in the January 2011 issue of: