Kick insecurities goodbye

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By Kelly LeVan

When you kick an attacker, you have to kick hard – and if he or she fights back, you need to be ready for that impact. That’s why at Key Technique Tae Kwon Do, the students really fight.

“We teach people what they need to know in a real situation,” said co-owner and retired Navy Capt. David Swingle. “We really kick – but we do it safely.”

In fact, he said, “Safety is everything.”

Students wear a full complement of pads and protective gear as they train with five certified, black-belt instructors, including Swingle, Karen and John Zavicar, Clint Waldrop and Lisa-Jo Dunham.

All instructors have advanced degrees and many years of experience in Tae Kwon Do. John Zavicar has practiced for 32 years, attaining a fifth-level black belt. The levels top out at 10 – but most don’t achieve level 10 until they die, Swingle said.

In addition to regular Tae Kwon Do classes, Key Technique offers health and wellness discussions; firearms, weapons and ground-fighting training; children’s self-defense seminars; and women’s self-defense seminars.

The women’s seminars, which Karen Zavicar has provided informally for a few years now, have proved very popular.

“It’s an awesome program,” Zavicar said. “I have great teachers helping me.”

She said she originally started teaching women’s self-defense because of an abusive relationship she endured in her early 20s.

“I got myself out with two small children and I started training,” she said.

Now, she said, she realizes many young women don’t know how to defend themselves.

“I hate the thought of anyone’s children being under attack,” Zavicar said. “They wouldn’t know what to do.”

Knowing what to do is only half of it; Key Technique’s seminars also teach women the self-assurance they need to do it.

“At the end of the seminar, we do some sparring and let the women beat us up,” said Swingle, who regularly serves as one of the “predatory men” on which participants get to test their new moves. “We also let the women break a board. It’s such a thing to break your first board … The women come out with such confidence.”

Swingle said confidence-building is an essential and extremely appealing aspect of Tae Kwon Do training for many, including himself.

“I didn’t start until I was 42,” he said. “I always wanted to and finally I realize I needed to. I wanted to be able to protect my family and it gives you the confidence to know that if there is a problem, you won’t be a helpless sheep.”

He added, “Tae Kwon Do is hands and feet. It’s kicking and punching – just knowing you can twist someone’s hand a little bit and run.”

Swingle said his granddaughter also practices. She started at age 8 and at 14 fought 15 adults in a row, for two minutes apiece, in order to earn her black belt.

“She did great,” he said, glowing with not only confidence, but pride.

Take a class

Key Technique classes meet from 5:30-7 p.m. Mondays at the White Rock Activity Center and 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesdays at the Los Alamos Golf Course Clubhouse. Adults, teens and children age 7 and older are welcome to drop in for a free trial. Regular fees are $60/month for adults and $45 for children.

The next women’s self-defense seminar will be held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the golf course. The $199 tuition includes a full day of techniques as well as five DVDs, one lecture CD, booklet and certificate of accomplishment. Contact Zavicar at 695-0746 for more information.