The difference between being a victim or a survivor may be a hard kick to the groin.

About 30 women in a free self-defense class Saturday at Montana Tech learned that you can’t be ladylike during an assault.

Tech professor and judo instructor John Amtmann taught the class — which included teens to a middle-aged woman — basic techniques to counter a violent or sexual assault. This included hitting men in sensitive places such as the eyes or the groin. In these life or death situations, he told the students they need to fight fiercely.

“Think of this person as trying to abduct your daughter or your son or your mother,” he said.

The women learned how to punch, kick and throw knees and elbows to fend off an attacker. Several male volunteers donned protective padding and acted as human punching bags for the ladies.

While the group appeared to be having a good time and sharing laughs during the training, Amtmann told The Montana Standard that self-defense training for women is serious.

“I want to create awareness about violence against women and (that) sexual assault is the most important social issue concerning women in this country today,” Amtmann said.

He said the U.S. averages about 100,000 cases of reported rapes per year. Amtmann added that the actual number is probably closer to 500,000, because many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

“With 500,000 rapes in this country, women need to know what to do (when being assaulted),” he said.

Brittany Pelton, 24, of Butte is petite, and has a sweet smile. She knows she’d be an easy target and wanted to learn to better protect herself.

“I’m not a natural fighter and I’m little. I want to learn to bring out the inner tiger,” Pelton said.

Eighteen-year-old Taylor Orcutt is barely 5 feet tall and looks as if she gets weepy watching romantic comedy films. But this Butte girl can throw a blinding three-punch combination that could make Sugar Ray Leonard weak in the knees.

“I’ve been practicing martial arts for years,” she said.

Orcutt still felt it was necessary to take the self-defense class.

“It’s important for women (to learn self defense). As women, we’re supposed to be sweet and always act like a lady,” Orcutt said.

However, in a time when violent assaults are common, Orcutt said women need to be ready to fight back.

Rachel Roberts, 43, said that’s the main reason she decided to take the class.

“I believe in refusing to be a victim,” she said.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via email at john.emeigh@lee.net or phone at 496-5511. Follow him at Twitter.com/@johnemeigh.

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