Sac State offers free self-defense classes

Protection in times of need


Stacy Hanson

(L-R) Alexandra Boyd practices the moves she learned during the self defense class at The WELL while Vic Vinson watches on Nov. 14, 2022. Boyd said she finally decided to sign up for the self-defense class after the recent surge of sexual assault cases at Sac State.

Stacy Hanson, news staffer

Loud exclamations were heard from The Rubicon Studio in The WELL Monday evening. Concerned students peered in the windows to make sure everything was okay. What they found was a small group of students practicing their newly learned self-defense moves on a dummy.

These students were enrolled in a free self-defense class to learn how to protect themselves in light of the recent occurrences of sexual assault on campus. But this class isn’t new.

For the past 11 years, Sac State has offered a self-defense class at The WELL in the hopes of teaching its students how to protect themselves from a possible attack.

The class, which is free to Sac State students and faculty, is taught by Vince Vinson, a retired Sac State police sergeant, defensive tactics trainer and gang officer.

The story continues below the photo. 

Vic Vinson, who teaches the self-defense classes in The Rubicon Studio in The WELL, poses with a dummy used for students to practice self-defense Nov. 14, 2022. Vinson said along with being a retired police sergeant he is also trained in martial arts. (Stacy Hanson)

Vinson said he started teaching the class in 2012 because the Sac State Police Department was receiving a high volume of calls from students about their response to sexual assaults occurring on campus at the time.

“I already had a background in martial arts. I already taught karate for kinesiology [at Sac State],” Vinson said. “I’ve been the self-defense instructor the whole time.”

Vinson noted that typically, 15-20 students sign up for the self-defense lessons. However, this enrollment has slightly increased this semester.

The story continues below the photo. 

Reem Rassam, a graduate student in electrical engineering, poses with a dummy in The Rubicon Studio in The WELL on No. 14, 2022. Rassam said she liked the repetitiveness of the self-defense class because it helped her learn how to defend herself through natural movement. (Stacy Hanson)

Reem Rassam, a graduate student studying electrical engineering, said she took the class to gain self-confidence. 

“I needed to have more self-confidence. I always fear when I walk alone at night,” Rassam said.

Trust yourself, trust what you’ve learned, and trust the instructor’s knowledge.

— Alexandra Boyd

The best part about the self-defense class, according to Rassam, was Vinson’s repeated lessons to ensure the students truly understood the moves. 

“It was good that he kept repeating the lessons so we could get more practice,” she said. “In that case, it becomes natural to do the movement without thinking.”

The story continues below the photo. 

Sac State Alumna and professor Alexandra Boyd leans against the practice dummy in The Rubicon Studio in The WELL Nov. 14, 2022. Boyd said the self-defense class has taught her to be more comfortable with her body. (Stacy Hanson)

Another student of the class, Sac State alumna and professor Alexandra Boyd, said she has been waiting to take the self-defense class at Sac State for nearly 10 years.

Being a survivor of sexual assault, Boyd said she felt the need to take the self-defense class to protect herself if any instances were to occur in the future.

“I was ready to just not procrastinate anymore,” Boyd said. “I was getting tired of not being able to go places in the dark. I’ve signed up for both sessions after seeing the assaults that were happening [on campus].”

Boyd graduated from the Sac State Masters’ Program in 2017 for Communication Studies, but has since been teaching lower division communications classes at Sac State.

Both Boyd and Rassam emphasized that they have gained more out of the class than just a feeling of security on campus. They have found confidence within themselves.

Rassam mentioned her newfound sense of safety goes beyond Sac State.

“I feel more comfortable not just on campus, but everywhere,” she said. 

“I feel safer in my body after completing the class,” Boyd added. “Trust yourself, trust what you’ve learned, and trust the instructor’s knowledge.”

Self-defense classes are currently over for the fall semester but more will be offered to start in the spring.