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‘Failure is not an option’

What would you do if you found yourself the victim of a violent attack?

Would you run? Would you stand and fight back? Would you know what to do?

Joseph Morris says that you should have a plan of action.

Morris is a Fourth Degree Black Belt in the art of Budo Taijustsu. He has been teaching for 11 years but he started learning martial arts about 24 years ago. He teaches a self-defense training class at LifeSong Church in Ashland, Ky., every week.

Morris describes a plan of action as a plan that you “can and will take to avoid and or defend yourself with in the event you are accosted by one of today’s predators.

“For those who are physically and mentally able to participate in this type of training and wish to do so, I think it is a great part of a self-defense plan of action,” said Morris.

Every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Morris opens his class with prayer and teaches his students the techniques needed to defend themselves from an attacker. They use different scenarios and a variety of practice weapons to simulate real attacks.

The first technique that Morris teaches is rolling, or kaiten in Japanese. He has each student roll forward, backwards and to the left and right while he simulates attacking them with a long bamboo sword.

“It’s important to learn how to fall,” Morris said. “Always protecting the melon at all times.

After the rolling, Morris has his students demonstrate different defensive techniques on himself and each other.

“There is always a line of attack,” said Morris.

The line of attack refers to the area in which an attacker’s weapon will come at you. If an attacker is swinging a bat, the path that the bat follows is the line of attack. If the attacker has a gun, the bullet’s path when the gun is fired is the line of attack.

Morris stressed, “We don’t want to be in the line of attack.”

After getting out of the line of attack, Morris says that the next goal is to get the attacker’s mind off of what they were going to do.

“Give them something else to think about,” said Morris.

Student Lorin Michki practiced disarming student Aaron Spurlock.

“He’s fighting what he thinks your next move is,” said Morris. “Remember what we talked about. There’s always two ways to go. If you lose a technique, move to the next one.”

Morris and his students practice each move slowly to ensure that everyone uses the proper techniques and also so they can see how and why they are effective.

“The more we train and remember all these things, we can speed them up,” said Morris.

Jarod Warren has been training with Morris for about five months. He had previously trained in Tai Kwon Do.

“It is something I wanted to do for a long time,” Warren said. He said the training is much different than Tai Kwon Do. “The combat is so different. It’s more applicable.”

Jeffery Blankenship, another student, said he started training with Morris in January.

“I’ve always been fascinated with martial arts,” Blankenship said. “I’m learning something I could actually use.”

Blankenship also has some advice for anyone who wants to learn self-defense.

“Come to class. It’s free. It’s hands-on. It’s one-on-one. And the dude knows what he is talking about,” said Blankenship about Morris.

“I’m not going to advocate staying and fighting if you have any other option,” said Morris. “But, if you have children with you, or somebody that can’t protect themselves, sometimes you have to stay and fight. These are last-case scenarios.”

For people who can’t physically learn martial arts self-defense, Morris said that there are still other ways to protect yourself.

Morris said that pepper spray is an inexpensive and portable product that is very effective. There are various sizes and shapes. Some pepper spray canisters even look like other objects, such as lipstick or a pen.

“Tasers have excellent stopping power, as do stun guns,” said Morris. “You must also make sure your state allows you to have a Taser. Same for stun guns and pepper spray.”

Morris also runs an online business where these types of items can be purchased. The Web site is www.stungear.com.

Morris is also an advocate of the right to legally bear arms.

“Hand guns are a lethal ordinance and you must follow the laws that govern your state regarding such,” Morris said. “I also recommend you learn how to use this tool safely and effectively and legally.”

Morris’ class is free to the public. His class meets every Wednesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at LifeSong Church in Ashland. The church is located at 1100 Greenup Ave.

Joseph Morris can be contacted by e-mail at joe@stungear.com.

There is also a demonstration video on YouTube. Search for “Stungear Self Defense Techniques.”

“Failure is not an option,” Morris said. “If you have that attitude while you’re practicing, especially if you’re in an actual assault situation, never give up. If you never give up, you’re not going to fail.”