GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Sally Kuratnick, 58, says she was shaken when two of her friends were attacked in grocery store parking lots in Greensboro.
“One was over 90 years old and one was my age. The 90-year-old just lost her purse, but the other got beat up pretty badly,” she said.
Kuratnick has been learning self-defense at Octagon MMA and Krav Maga in Greensboro for about a year.
She is the center’s oldest female student.
“I want to be able to handle myself if that occurred. I want to be able to get away,” she said.
“Sometimes I’ll have older people who are a little bit apprehensive about doing it, but as I tell them just because you're older it doesn't make you less of a target, in fact, I think it makes you more of a target,” said David Stacy, owner of Octagon MMA and Krav Maga.
Stacy says gender, age, size, and physical ailments could make certain people greater criminal targets than others.
Rouben Keshguerian, 52, and Michel Hague, 60, are instructors at Tiger Rock Martial Arts in High Point.
They didn’t learn martial arts until they were in their 40s, but even as they get older, they’re confident they could handle what’s thrown at them.
“Since I started here, I don’t feel it. I don't feel vulnerability at all anymore," Keshguerian said.
“The difference between thinking you can handle it and knowing you can handle it is the training-- the constant having arms being thrown at you, legs being thrown at you,” Hague said.
Owner Steve Snyder says ultimately we should all be on guard especially during this busy shopping season.
He also emphasizes that self-defense is not about fancy moves, but rather one simple principle.
“Fight back. Let them know you're not a victim, that you're going to survive the situation,” Snyder said.
That means using everything to your advantage whether it is your groceries, purse, keys, hands, fists, etc.
However, there are some situations where fighting is not the right choice.
Snyder says an armed robbery for example where a weapon has been shown and the criminals are demanding items -- give them the items.
“If they try to grab [you] and try to hurt [you] that's when you'll fight back, but doing the Chuck Norris kick the gun out of the hand, that's not it,” Snyder said.
The goal is always to survive.
Along with self-defense, the experts suggest situational awareness.
Shopping in groups is recommended.
If you are shopping alone, ask someone at the store to help take your items to your car.