Equalizer returning to campus this week

“It’s not training you to win. It’s training you to escape. So, the point of the class is not for you to say, ‘Oh, haha I took that guy down,’ It’s to be able to say I defended myself long enough to run away.”
Assistant director of Bayou Pointe Center and instructor of Equalizer, Meghan Olinger said that this was the best way to describe ULM’s women’s self-defense class, Equalizer.
“You’re training to survive, not to win. And that’s a big misconception students have when they come in. They walk in and say, ‘Oh I’m going to be able to beat everyone up that I see.’ That’s not what we are teaching you to do,” Olinger said.
According to director of University Police Department, Tom Torregrossa, this program was made possible by the students.
“In 2015, we started to have meetings with our residential life, RAs and students. One of the things that kept coming up over and over was women’s self-defense class. We were able to bring in the best for the students. And we were able to get Meghan and Sonni who have done a phenomenal job to teach the course,” Torregrossa said.
According to Torregrossa, they researched different programs and discovered one that was a different style compared to most self-defense classes—Equalizer.
Equalizer was created by Johnny Lee Smith for police officers to train others self-defense tactics. Before Olinger, no civilian was able to train others with the Equalizer program—only police officers were allowed to train.
Olinger said that now herself and vice president of Student Affairs, Sonni Bennett, are the only two civilians qualified to train others with the Equalizer program.
According to gossgt.com, Smith’s self-defense training course is based off his jiu-jitsu background.
“Johnny comes from a hard-core jiu-jitsu background. So, a lot of the skills especially the ground work is jiu-jitsu based because jiu-jitsu is not about being bigger or better it’s about maneuvering smarter than your opponent. It is very physical for sure,” Olinger said.
Olinger said that this jiu-jitsu style of self-defense is better compared to other self-defense programs.
“I remember as a student here being exposed to some self-defense classes where they’ll teach you to poke them in the eyes or hold your keys between your fingers. This is not the most practical thing. Many self-defense classes teach you what you want to hear rather than what will actually work,” Olinger said.
Lieutenant Jeremy Kent and Torregrossa agreed with Olinger and use Smith’s SSGT defensive tactics to train their police officers.
Kent, Torregrossa and Olinger all agree that Equalizer is a program all women on ULM’s campus should get involved in.
While the class is not available to the community right now, Olinger said she hopes in the future they will be able to make it available for all women.
The class is every Tuesday for three weeks. The dates are Sept. 10, Sept. 17 and Sept. 24 and Olinger said if you can’t make it to those dates they will have another class Nov. 4, Nov. 11 and Nov. 18.