If you want peace, prepare for war

Kickboxing instructor offers free self-defense classes to UVU and BYU students

Brandon Guzzo, pictured in headlock, helps show women how to avoid bad situations as well as how to get out of a bad situation. Courtesy of Brandon Guzzo

The statistics say that one in every eight women in Utah will report being raped in her lifetime. The number of those not reported is estimated to be double that.

Brandon Guzzo is a professional trainer for mixed martial arts and teaches kickboxing at this university.

He is working on a master’s thesis that will change how self-defense is taught and is also offering free classes to prove it.

A conventional self-defense class teaches a “fight to win” technique in which the attacked looks to disable the attacker. Guzzo is teaching women “fight to flee.”

“The longer they stay and fight, the higher the chance to lose,” Guzzo said.

The people attacking will most likely be bigger and stronger than the women, according to Guzzo. This will sometimes put the victim at a disadvantage and that is why Guzzo wants to change.

In the wake of a high profile rape in Provo last summer, as well as the recent assault at the Branbury apartments, he said that this area is a hot spot for cowards to attack. To combat this, he is teaching local classes at The Academy in Orem.

The class has been going for a few months now, but their numbers are so low that The Academy might pull it due to lack of support. They are giving Guzzo the space for free and he is giving his time to teach and train, but so far there are only between four and ten in attendance. There is room for 50 to 60, if not more.

It is free for students of UVU and BYU, as well as anyone in their families who want to join them. He encourages people to bring sisters, mothers, nieces, grandmothers or whoever they know. This is so they can feel comfortable and train together when they are not at the class.

“Practice often and get into a system,” Guzzo said. “Practice, practice, practice, practice with bigger and stronger people.”

Guzzo has had students as young as eight and said that training should begin as early as five. Just like a professional fighter commits to a lifestyle change to train, women should commit to protecting themselves as early as possible.

The classes are on Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. at The Academy, which is located at 1640 S. State in Orem. Guzzo recommends going as much as possible so the actions become part of muscle memory.

On top of the training, he hopes to help trainees avoid the fight altogether by teaching where to be and what to do.

Utah is a dangerous place for rape and regardless of the “Happy Valley” moniker, women here need to know what to do and what not to do to stay safe.

“Be very conscious of your surroundings,” Guzzo said. “These attackers prey on people with a false sense of security. When you think nothing can happen, it will.”

Guzzo is working on starting a group to protect victims called Fighters Against Rape or FAR. The group is modeled along the lines of BACA. The group uses MMA fighters to even the intimidation field the way BACA uses tough looking bikers to help children and will attend trials to stand between the victim and the assailant.

Guzzo has worked on the Provo Survivor campaign and wants to help any woman that is in need. Anyone can contact him at [email protected] for more information.

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