Lawrence jogger organizes self-defense classes after surviving attack

photo by: Contributed photo

Carrie Mugridge, in purple tank top, and Jimmy Golden, second from right, lead a free self-defense class at Prime Martial Arts in Lawrence on Aug. 18, 2018. Mugridge and Golden are teaching self-defense classes to help women to ward off attackers.

A traumatic experience has inspired a local woman to lead an effort for Lawrence women to learn how to defend themselves from attackers.

Carrie Mugridge was the target of a previously reported attempted abduction when she was jogging on the morning of July 12 on the Prairie Park Nature Center trail in eastern Lawrence. Police said the suspect may have been intending sexual assault, based on additional actions he took.

“Somebody came behind me, lifted me off the ground and began shaking me,” Mugridge said. “I started kicking his shins and got him to put me back on the ground. I then used my elbows and hit him over and over again and got loose.”

Mugridge was able to break free and get away. Officer Derrick Smith, a spokesman for the Lawrence Police Department, said Thursday that police were still investigating the incident.

After the altercation, Mugridge said she wrote about her experience on Facebook and began to receive messages from many women who had been targeted in a similar manner.

“It made me mad because this is not OK,” she said.

She decided to go to Jimmy Golden at Prime Martial Arts, where her son practices tae kwan do; her idea was to help the women of Body Boutique, a gym where Mugridge works, train for self-defense.

Golden has practiced martial arts for 25 years and has been teaching for about 12 years, he said.

Mugridge said that after she teamed with Golden, many women expressed interest to her about learning self-defense techniques, which inspired her and Golden offer free classes to whoever signed up.

Golden said the classes focus on teaching basic self-defense “tips and tricks” to make women more comfortable and confident to go about their lives.

The first free lesson, held on Aug. 18, attracted about 40 people. Mugridge said another 40 women signed up for the next free lesson on Sept. 15. Along with the open lessons, Golden’s team has gone to organizations and businesses to teach some defense tactics.

“It’s become a kind of movement,” Mugridge said. “And they’re doing it all for free, which is amazing.”

photo by: Contributed photo

A woman shoves a punching bag held by Chris Golden, a Prime Martial Arts instructor, during a self-defense class.

Looking back, Mugridge said the attack on her on July 12 deeply affected her. Golden said that even though Mugridge had been able to organize the trainings, he could tell she was still dealing with mental and emotional recovery.

“It was life-changing,” Mugridge said of the incident. “It’s changed everything: how I think, how I see people, how I see my own community. Going for a run is hard, but I still try to do it.”

But Mugridge is more prepared if an attack happens again. She said some of the best techniques she’s learned so far are simple, such as turning the rings on her fingers inside to her palm to use as sharp objects to hit an attacker, as well as going for the joints, eyes, nose and ears.

“Jimmy calls it ‘softening them up,'” she said. “It’s just going for those areas that throws them off.”

Mugridge unknowingly did this when she escaped from her attacker on July 12, Golden said. The incident Mugridge experienced is traumatic, but it was a wake-up call for the community, he said.

“As bad as it sounds, sometimes bad things need to happen for people to wake up and think, ‘Wow, this could really happen,'” he said.

Mugridge said she and Golden don’t want to stop offering free classes until every woman in Lawrence is empowered and educated on how to defend herself.

“We’re the town that’s going to fight them off,” she said. “We’re going to be the safest place.”

Mugridge will be a featured speaker at the SHE Expo on Oct. 13 at the Burge Union on the University of Kansas campus. The SHE Expo is sponsored by the Lawrence Journal-World.


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