By Melissa Kurtz
Girls 12 years and up were invited to attend a self-defense course at Missouri Western’s Griffon
Indoor Sports Complex on March 9.
Missouri Western partnered with the Kiwanis Club, the YWCA and many others to bring the
T.A.K.E defense classes to St. Joseph. This is the second time that this event has been hosted in St.
Joseph, and the first time the event has been hosted at Western. The event boasted a turnout of about
200 women in all.
Colleen Kowich, director of Alumni Relations, explained that though the event was free for any
woman above the age of twelve, people who did donate received gifts from the event’s sponsors.
“The donations go to support the Ali Kemp Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of St. Joseph.”
Kowich said. “The Ali Kemp Foundation provides this self defense course for free all over the country,
and donations go to support that. Those who donate receive a gift bag and a t-shirt from our sponsors.”
Rodger Kemp, the founder of the Ali Kemp Foundation, said he believes that women and
children are a community’s best resource.
“You know, I believe that the world is 99 percent good.” Kemp said. “But it’s the other one
percent we have to worry about. It’s predators that cause harm and that take lives. That’s the point of
this program, to teach women to defend themselves in that situation.”
The T.A.K.E. defense course is an intensive two-hour program that teaches women what to do
when faced with the threat of violence. Jill Leiker, a T.A.K.E defense instructor and executive director for
the Ali Kemp Foundation, said there are several things women can do to decrease the likelihood of being
“First and foremost, follow your intuition.” Leiker said. “If a situation feels off, it is off. Don’t
ignore it, don’t think you’re being paranoid. Be aware, be prepared. It’s what will keep you alive.”
Leiker and her partner showed women what to do if faced with physical violence. They showed
the best ways to thwart common tactics like chokeholds, hair pulling, or being forced to the ground.
“It’s all about physical memory.” Leiker said. “If you haven’t thought of what you would do in a
certain situation, you have no recall. You will freeze, and that’s the worst thing you can do during an
attack. It can take as little as fifteen minutes for someone to hurt, assault or kill you.”
The event raised $1,500 for the Ali Kemp Foundation and proved to be a resounding success
with the women in St. Joseph.