Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Self-Defense Course Drawing Praise; Yulee: Classes Also Deal with Firearms Safety

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Self-Defense Course Drawing Praise; Yulee: Classes Also Deal with Firearms Safety

Article excerpt

Byline: Marise Nazzaro, Nassau Neighbors correspondent

With terrorism and criminal violence at the forefront of many people's minds these days, there's a class in Yulee that offers people a chance to fight back.

Gary Belson, a military and law enforcement hostage rescue and anti-terrorism instructor, offers the class twice monthly at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Yulee.

Belson, who said he has participated in covert operations to curtail the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in several countries, draws from his experiences to teach people tactical training skills. He said he wants to help people not be victimized on the streets or in their homes.

This eight-hour course mixes safety instructions and defense tactics -- and the lessons are not sugar-coated.

The curriculum covers attack defense in a public place, anti-kidnapping, anti-carjacking, anti-robbery, anti-home invasion, dynamics of defense and advanced shooting techniques.

Belson adds an additional hour talking about how not to go to jail. That segment details what people should say to a police officer if they become part of a crime scene.

"If you defend yourself inside your house against a person who is bodily threatening you, you will have to get a lawyer," Belson tells his classes.

He also said that because each crime scene is different, a person can avoid emotional and financial hassles by learning how to act in as many situations as possible.

Yvonne Harris, whose son was shot while helping a friend, is Belson's public relations coordinator. She also teaches a segment on safety for women.

Harris cited a report by bodyguard Pat Malone that said 99 percent of Americans will be exposed to a criminal act of some kind.

The report also gives ways to avoid becoming a rape victim by running a list of things rapists admit they look for in a victim -- long hair to grab, clothing that can be easily removed, and women on cell phones. Rapists also prefer to act between 5 and 8 a.m., when the victims are asleep or groggy.

Belson also teaches children 13 or older, as long as their parents approve it.

"The children that take this course are not opening front doors to possible intruders and are not playing with guns," Belson said. …

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