Island Women Fill Self Defense Classes After Recent Murders

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Two brutal killings in just one week have island women on edge. On January 11, a man allegedly stabbed his wife to death in Kalihi. And on January 16, another man allegedly clubbed his ex-girlfriend to death.

Self defense teachers say their classes are filling up after these two domestic violence murders. Women we talked to say they want to enroll in self defense prevention classes not only to learn how to protect themselves, but also to feel more confident.

This Kalihi home was the scene of a vicious knife attack on January 11 that killed 39-year-old Jenny Hartsock. The suspect: her husband Roy, who has a history of domestic violence.

And horrified bystanders stood along this Kailua road on January 16 and watched a man beat 29-year-old Janel Tupuola to death. The accused: her ex-boyfriend, 30-year-old Alapeti Tunoa, Jr.

Island women like Michelle Whitt, who is a petite 5 foot 3 inches tall, are shaken up.

"Scary. It's really scary," she said.  "Especially being someone my size. I would never know what to expect."

That's why Whitt took an assault prevention course with Hawaii Zenyo Bujutsu Kai.

"For learning how to protect myself on the street. At least now I have the confidence to know I can do so on my own," she said.

Professor Steve McLaughlin, a judo and jujitsu black belt, is the teacher. He says enrollment skyrocketed in the week after the murders. He has added more courses.

"The phone rings off the hook the day after something like that happens," said McLaughlin.  "The interesting thing is, mostly, it's mothers!"

Mc Laughlin teaches women how to escape chokes, how to fend off attackers in a variety of scenarios, and how to create a safe room at home. But he emphasizes, prevention is the best method.

"Learning how to fight takes a long time. Learning how to escape- you can learn that in a short amount of time," he said.

For women in abusive situations, that means getting help early.

"Get into counseling first before these things escalate," said Mc Laughlin.

And for all women, that means never letting your guard down.

"Pay attention to your intuition. It works," encourages Mc Laughlin.

His students say the class helped.

"I'm parked in a dark parking lot and after taking Steve's course, I'm aware," said Witt.  "I keep my eye out when I'm walking to my car."

McLaughlin is in the process of scheduling more classes due to demand. You can call him at (808) 351-3074 or check his website for more classes.

There is also another course we found out about offered through Kaiser, called Personal Safety and Self-Defense. That's offered at:

Kaiser Honolulu Clinic, Conference Room 1BC

6:30-8:00 pm, February 7 & 14 or March 6 & 13

These Thursday classes are composed of two 1.5-hour sessions.

Kaiser Waipio Clinic, 1st Floor Conference Room B

9:00-noon, February 9 or March 8

These Saturday classes are 3-hour sessions.

For More Information

Call the Kaiser Lifestyle Program at 432-2270.