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Oneida Y collaborates with AMAI for Womens' Self Defense Seminar


On Octtober 26, the Oneida Family YMCA (701 Seneca Street: Oneida, NY) hosted a seminar to help women learn self-defense and build self-confidence. The event was organized and made possible by Collin Meehan, Oneida Y Branch Director. The class was taught by American Martial Arts Institute Grandmaster Clifford Crandall, Jr., Headmaster Eric Stalloch, and American Martial Arts Institute staff.

"Most people never take the time to learn even the most basic self-defense skills," Eric Stalloch commented. Stalloch is the proprietor of the American Martial Arts Institute in New Harford, and during the seminar he presented information on how to the women could develop their own personal safety plan and strategies. "Our most powerful self-defense resource is our mind. The brain is like a computer, and if it is not programmed with how to respond, it won't. In this seminar we offered ways for the participants to improve their own awareness. We hope to avoid criminal confrontation, but we must also prepare for physical responses if the need arises."

The 90-minute class was open to women ages 18 and older and young women ages 16 to 17 (with a registered female legal guardian).

“We’re bringing the self-defense class back because of the great reviews we received from past participants,” said Oneida YMCA Health and Wellness Coordinator Madison Robinson.

Some of the awareness topics covered included:

  • Criminal characteristics and tactics

  • Vulnerabilies and how to minimize them

  • Awareness strategies

  • Boundary setting strategies

  • Safety while in public spaces

  • Home security options, and more

“The strength of a community is made possible by organizations such as the YMCA,” Stalloch added.

“The YMCA cares for the health, well-being, and safety of others and offers programs like self-defense that meet the needs of so many.”

The physical respons portion of the seminar was taught by Grandmaster Crandall and Instructor Gisella Stalloch. Together, they are currently filming an instructional DVD on Women's Safety that will be release in early 2024. Physical responses covered included kicks, escapes from common grabs, and more.

Grandmaster Crandall also took time to explain additional topics that are covered in future seminars for returning partipants. When a woman has already taken the introductory seminar and registers for the next seminar, they are taught divided into a separate group. This group does not repeat the awareness portion of the seminar. Instead, they learn techniques against knife assault, hand gun assault, and active shooter scenarios. They also learn additional techiniques such as escapes from a throat grab. When the awarenss portion of the seminar ends for first time participants, the two groups come together and the returing participants review the techniques they learned during their previous seminar to reinforce those responses.

The next Women's Self Defense Seminar that will be offered by the American Martial Arts Institute will be on Saturday, November 18, 2023 from 10 am to 11:30 am at the American Martial Arts Institute in New Hartford. Registration is avaiable online or by calling 315.768.1859. REGISTER HERE

In addition, we are looking to return to the YMCA in early 2024 for another seminar.

For more information about classes offered at the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley, visit its website at


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