In the view of Danny and Glenda Williams, instruction on how a young woman can physically defend herself might be one of the best graduation presents for a college-bound student.
But it’s also one of the best gifts a woman of any age can give herself.
The couple own and operate the Danny Williams Combat Martial Arts Program at 804 W. Pearl St. Danny is the primary instructor, but Glenda also instructs, particularly where the women’s classes are concerned. Of the eight classes offered, one is a Wednesday night self-defense class for women. The class is so popular that the couple is expanding women’s self-defense to Monday nights and Friday nights.
“It’s so important for them to know,” Glenda said. “You know, it may be (a new college student’s) first time away from home like that. We have one young woman who is moving away to Lubbock, going to Texas Tech, and I’m so proud of her and I’m confident she’s going to be able to handle herself. She was assaulted in high school.”
Steve Smith, chief deputy for the Hood County Sheriff’s Office, said that over the past year, that office handled 10 assaults with a firearm; two knife assaults; 282 assaults, 151 of which were domestic violence situations; 133 harassment complaints; 26 sexual assaults; and 14 protective order violations.
Although Smith said he did not know specifically without reading each report how many of those cases involved female victims, he said that most domestic violence calls, sexual assault cases, and protective order violations involve women.
“I think with the kind of town Granbury/Hood County is, it’s very easy to get kind of lulled into a belief that, oh, it’s a big-city issue,” Glenda stated. “This is a small Texas town but I’m telling you, we see things on Facebook and Instagram by Granbury and Hood County residents all the time about this man was following me in the Walmart parking lot, I was threatened here, I was approached there, and you have to be aware.”
Danny said that, according to statistics, 90% of assaults are believed to go unreported and 75% of assault victims knew their assailant.
At Danny Williams Combat Martial Arts Program, women learn not only how to fight back against the person trying to harm them, but also how to overcome their fears.
“The driving force of abuse is fear,” Danny said. “It’s the fear of the unknown or it’s the fear of that situation. Well, we can eliminate that. It’s like when I was in the miliary. If you’re in a war, that’s a bad situation, but we resort to our training. We don’t let the fear control us. It’s the same way with women’s self-defense.”
Danny said that the news is full of women who were assaulted on a running track, or at an apartment complex.
“But those women that have been trained (in self-defense), you don’t hear their stories,” he said, “because they’re not victims.”
Danny started learning martial arts 49 years ago at the age of four. After graduating high school in Marlin at 18, he opened his first martial arts school. He ran it for two years before joining the United States Marine Corp and serving in the Persian Gulf War. He was in the Marines for four years.
Danny then opened a martial arts school in Austin and ran it for 12 years while also pastoring a church.
“Glenda and I both went to college for ministry,” he stated, adding that they were in ministry for 20 years.
Danny moved to Hood County six years ago, and Glenda arrived three years ago. They opened the West Pearl Street martial arts school about a year and a half ago.
Danny and Glenda have a particular interest in helping women and girls protect themselves because their blended family includes five daughters. One is 31, one is 22, two are 21, and the youngest is 13.
One of the couple’s classes is a morning class for kids who are homeschooled.
“Usually, assaults on teenagers start around 12, 13 years old,” Danny said. “You know, their dating years and their college years.”
FIT AND FEARSOME
According to Danny, learning martial arts is not only good for self-protection, but also a great way to stay in shape. And while women are getting a workout, they build their self-esteem and even reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Sometimes women don’t look at self-defense until they’ve already had a bad encounter,” Danny said. “If I had it my way, it would be taught to children in school.”
Mary Flores, crime victim liaison for the Hood County Sheriff’s Office, said that while some women who experience a traumatic event move forward with their lives without suffering lasting effects, others may experience depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Flores said that she herself is impacted by the trauma suffered by those she works to help, especially when the victims are young girls.
“We carry these stories in our hearts and usually do not realize that we are also carrying the effect of compassion fatigue,” she wrote in an email to the Hood County News.
One way she copes, she said, is through exercise.
Females at Danny and Glenda’s martial arts school are taught a combination of Krav Maga, jiu jitsu, and Combat Hapkido. Danny said that classes are open for those age 12 to 102. In other words, pretty much everybody — and regardless of their fitness level. Probably half of class participants are over 50, he said.
“An assailant looks for vulnerabilities,” Danny stated. “And those vulnerabilities are age and physical condition. So, just because someone is older, and maybe on the heavyset side or the leaner side, or maybe has a disability, we tailor to that as well.”
He added, “But we really make sure that we are more focused on the strength of the mind. Martial arts is not about strength, it’s about leverage. If someone grabbed you in a certain way, it’s not you fighting their power. It’s how you use their limbs, their joints, and their bones against them.”
If the assailant is armed, that changes things.
“If the assailant has a gun and he wants material, we let him have it,” Danny said. “He can have purses and (credit) cards and keys and cars. We let him have it. However, if he is looking for abduction, or assault, or murder, we are going to fight back. It’s one thing to surrender material possessions. It’s another thing to surrender your physical body. I would rather fight at the scene in hopes of getting away than be abducted and never be seen again.”
Danny and Glenda’s evening classes for adults start at 7:15 p.m. and go for 45 minutes to one hour.
The new Monday evening class for women, which will be an intermediate level, will start Monday, June 5. The new Friday class starts June 2.
Danny said the additional classes were added so that he and Glenda could keep the classes smaller, enabling them to provide more individual attention.
Cost is $99 per month. The fee allows members to attend up to 12 classes. Potential members are allowed a free trial.
Classes run year-round and women can join anytime.
“We go over it in such a way that everyone’s learning something new every week,” Danny said. “The new ones can just jump right in.”
The website for the Danny Williams Combat Martial Arts Program is dwcmap.com. The phone number is 817-776-7680.