I’ve been educated by Lifetime original movies over the years. I’ve learned you should never fall for a handsome man in a houseboat, never backstab a group of cheerleaders and never, ever, doubt Fred Savage’s temper (R.I.P. DJ Tanner). And something else Lifetime movies want you to know? Never trust the people closest to you. They are the ones who will assume your identity and/or throw you off a balcony. Then this weekend, at my Dabble Women’s Self Defense class, my teacher told us a statistic Lifetime would agree with: 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Our class spent the next hour and half learning to fight back.

Fresh off watching the Lifetime original movie “The Craigslist Killer” I showed up at Jungki Kwan Midwest ready to throw down with an army of fratty sociopaths. Instead, I was greeted by an army of about 20 chatty and eager women. I met book club friends, moms and daughters, recent Chicago transplants, all of us taking action on our darkest fears.

The class was powerful. This was the Dabble class I’ve been most emotionally invested in. I didn’t even consider it before class but now it makes sense. You don’t get 20 women together talking about robberies, assault, rape, without feeling some kind of bond. We were candid right from the start, throwing out “what if” scenarios to our teacher/former Snoop Dogg bodyguard/ lone male/Jungki Master Kevin Sogor. He told us to get acquainted quickly with the stranger to our left and we soon realized why.

Unlike the dummies I thought we’d be practicing on, we partnered up with whoever was next to us. “My boyfriend said this class would just be about kicking guys in the nuts,” my partner whispered to me and we both giggled nervously. I heard this same bit of advice echoed by girls throughout class. Thankfully the class was not an hour and half long lecture on groin kicks.

Master Sogor led us in a variety of defense tactics. We practiced what to do in case of a hair pull, wrist grab, strangle, or wall pin situation. My partner and me could hardly get through a defense move without smiling and laughing. And this was not because we were insensitive; simulating a strangling and rape scenario are just that uncomfortable. Uncomfortable but life-saving. As mortified as I may have been, I knew this was the best use of my Sunday afternoon or any afternoon.

At the end of our class, Master Sogor handed out an unassuming parting gift. He cracked open a pack of Sharpie markers and gave each of us one to take home.

“These work better than any key,” he told us referencing the old myth that keys should be used as a weapon against attackers. “These markers are strong. You can shove them up a nose, ear, or jam them into a hand. And should the cap come off, the ink will stay on your attacker for days.”

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this post it’s that mild discomfort should not deter you from educating yourself. You’ll get over it and feel stronger and better for doing so. Knowledge is power. Also, remember to carry a Sharpie with you always.


Ali Kelley is a 20-something trying to figure out her life one Dabble at a time. Be sure to check back each Wednesday to see her newest Dabble class adventure, and cheer her on with words of encouragement through the comments section below or on Twitter @freegiantparty.