Professor teaches community to take action

A college professor has been trying to help keep children safe against the ghouls and goblins that lurk in the night during Halloween.

About 20 years ago, professor Mark Bergmooser, started teaching a one-day children’s self-defense seminar leading up to Halloween. He said this was partially to help increase recruitment in his tae kwon do classes at Monroe County Community College.

“My goal with this, by having the parents there, is begin a discussion between them and their child about self-defense,” Bergmooser said.

Although it was canceled this year due to low enrollment for the seminar, professor Edmund La Clair said he was interested in his daughter taking Bergmooser’s Halloween course.

“Every child, particularly females in America, should learn self-defense,” La Clair said.

This is the first time Bergmooser recalls his class being canceled as the class usually averages 20 students, which includes parents and children.

Bergmooser said he learned martial arts as a child and has advanced to a fifth-degree black-belt.

With having two daughters of his he said that teaching kids how to defend themselves is even more important because he understands the parents’ perspective about worrying for their child’s safety.

Although the Halloween seminar is canceled, Bergmooser still offers a four-week tae kwon do class every month for ages 5 and up.

Carrie Nartker, a professor at MCCC, said her son attended Bergmooser’s Halloween seminar last year. She said she respects him as a teacher and decided it was the right time for her son, 6-years-old, to begin learning self-defense.

Nartker said her son was very serious about learning and is excited to learn more forms of self-defense. She said her son got a sense of pride and accomplishment from the course.

Bergmooser said the martial arts teach a form of discipline and focus many kids.

Since the inception of this seminar, Bergmooser said he’s been invited to teach similar seminars at special events such as church groups and Boy Scout troops. However, has not expanded further because he is the only teacher.

To aid in teaching his children’s seminars, he asks for help from his higher ranking red-belt and black-belt students.

Former Monroe County Middle College student Mackenzie Garrison said she began taking private self-defense classes at the age of 15 to substitute for high school sports.

“Self-defense not only helped me to heal from an injury,” Garrison said, “it also taught me how to carry myself with confidence and be more aware of my surroundings.”

Garrison said learning self-defense helped her relieve stress caused by school and work, help to clear her mind and improve her grades.

“Definitely enroll your children.” Garrison said “It can do nothing but help them protect themselves as well as various other aspects of life. It’s also a great way to stay in shape, “

The one-day Halloween seminar was $19, whereas tae kwon do classes begin monthly and cost $54. They take place from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Health Education Building.