"I just want people not to think like victims," says Sean Rackley. "I see a great deal of assault when people are thinking like victims."
Rackley is a third-degree black belt in the Tetsu Ryu Taijutsu (Ninjutsu), which combines several Japanese martial arts. Earlier this year he opened Dojo Tetsu Ryu ("Iron Dragon Training Hall") in the South Side Athletic Club and is holding free self-defense training every Monday night in October.
Rackley has good reason to promote self-defense: He says a relative was raped not once but twice -- the first time by a stranger, the second time by a date. "When she was 17 ... she literally bled to death," she says. "They brought her back. I didn't want anybody to go through that.
"She's a strong woman and she has released herself of the trauma," he assures.
Rackley has based the free, two-and-a-half-hour training on his martial arts knowledge. "Everything I teach can be done by an 80-pound weakling against anybody of any size," he emphasizes.
The first week's session attracted 20 people -- women of all ages, he says, but also men of middle age. "Sometimes people who are younger, especially men, feel a little self-confident -- 'Why would I need this?' But it's something I recommend to everyone. We go over some basic things -- most grabs, chokes, people who get you in a head lock ... rape scenarios on the ground, [attacks] while walking or jogging, safety at home ..."
People have an easier time coming to the defense of a loved one than fighting for themselves, he observes. "If somebody was attacking you, you'd probably be a little afraid," Rackley says. But if you saw your kids being attacked, for instance, you'd fight without thinking. "Where is the change, mentally? The response that you have when someone dear to you is being attacked is the one you ought to have for yourself."