SHU Self-Defense Club helping students protect themselves


Photo courtesy of Allegra Berg

Twice a week, the Self-Defense Club, an unofficial SHU organization, meets in order to promote self-defense.

They start off with warms up, stretch, do a couple of laps, and squeeze in some pushups into their routine on Friday’s and Sunday’s at 5 p.m.
Then they get right into training and drills where the kickboxing gloves and the punching bags come out.

Members pair off and partner with someone of their same level and practice techniques they learned the week before, while learning new techniques. They mimic combat moves and play out dangerous situations in a life-like way.

The club is working its way up to becoming an official Seton Hall club.

Allegra Berg, diplomacy and international relations and modern languages double major, along with Josh Steier, mathematics and computer science major, a sophomore, are co-presidents of the up and coming club, which was created last fall.

At first, the club faced an obstacle. They were too similar to the Martial Arts Club.

According to Steier, the goal of the club is not only to promote self-defense, but also to promote confidence and humility.

The club strives to make students feel confident walking down the street at night and to express humility by understanding when to use the techniques.

“There’s a time and place for everything,” Steier said.

“This is not necessarily for showing off on the street all your cool karate moves, it’s actually for a situation if you’re in danger, how to get out of there quickly and to get out of there alive,” said Berg.

The club has encouraged its members to be vocal about how comfortable they are with the techniques, as well as who they want and don’t want to partner with.

“You have to be comfortable. A person highly skilled is not going to be partnered with someone of no experience,” Berg said.

Members vary from students with martial arts experience to students who are simply interested in learning.

Steier holds a certificate of accomplishment in Krav Maga, a self-defense system that consists of a mix of various martial arts techniques like judo, karate and boxing.

He is specifically Phase A certified, the training aspect that involves advanced techniques, such as self-defense against carjacking and plane jacking.

Steier, known as Sensei Josh, a martial arts term referring to a teacher or instructor, brings his experience to members of the club and is passionate about improving their lives through training.

“Krav is an art that can be challenging. Sometimes students want to give up but I push them beyond that boundary so they feel they can in daily life, pursue their dreams, despite these hardships,” he said.

Berg has attended various self-defense classes and looks forward to introducing what she knows at every practice. She most recently attended the Rape Aggression Defense training held on Nov. 12 and 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. by Seton Hall.

“It really helped me understand there are certain things which women need to be aware of,” she said.

Berg hopes to bring what she learned in Rape Aggression Defense to the club in the future. As more females join the club, she hopes to create a female unit within the club targeted to train women to defend themselves against rape aggression.

“I may just do a specific day for them or I’ll pull the girls aside every once in awhile,” she said.

Since first developing, the club has been working towards continuing to grow and obtaining a solid number of official members.

The club is required to have 12 members signed up in order to become an official Seton Hall club.

Since first spreading the word about the club in Facebook groups of each class in the university, the email list gained more than 50 students.
The club does a rotation of about 10 students for each practice.

“We are working to be official, that’s why we have been holding meetings and trying to get an official structure,” Berg said.

The club meets Fridays and Sundays in the evenings to hold practices.
Steir said that, “In the long run, I’m happy as long as my students feel safe, confident and empowered.”

Macarena Solis can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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