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By Ian Skotte, Special to The Times
According to statistics released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, in the five-county area of Coffee, Bedford, Franklin, Lincoln and Grundy, 90 murders have been committed since 2001.
In Rutherford and Williamson counties, where the population more than doubles that of the local five-county region, TBI statistics show 81 murders committed in the same time period.
Due to recent crimes against women in Tullahoma and the surrounding area, and because of increased requests from the public, local martial arts expert Bunny Hawkersmith has organized a women’s self-defense class.
Hawkersmith said part of the class will be recognizing the signs of danger before it ever happens, “because of the psychological scars such a situation can cause,” he said.
Hawkersmith said that if victims are able to recognize the signs of an oncoming attack, they can possibly “see it before it ever happens.”
With the recent local news of violence against women, Hawkersmith said his phone has been ringing off the hook with requests to do something.
“Two women came here from Tullahoma Wednesday night and said I’m the only one around who can put together such a class,” he said.
The class is targeted at teaching women the most simple and effective techniques to defend themselves in a life-or-death situation, according to Hawkersmith.
The response has been so large that organizers have already had to change the event’s location twice.
More than 100 people have indicated they’re planning to attend the class, set for 6 p.m. Dec. 11 at Winchester’s First Baptist Church, 108 S. High St.
“And this is before we’ve really even announced it,” said Hawkersmith. “I’m now getting churches and businesses asking me if they can attend – all through word of mouth.”
Five martial arts experts will teach the class. All five, according to Hawkersmith, have a lifetime of experience.
This isn’t the first time Hawkersmith has held such a class.
“I’ve been in martial arts for 40 years,” he said. “I’ve hosted self-defense classes all over, including Nashville, Donelson, Belmont College, you name it. But this is the first time I’ve gotten a response like this.”
For Hawkersmith, the recent crimes hit especially hard.
“It’s personal to me,” he said.
In 1994, Hawkersmith said his own daughter was abducted at knifepoint.
“One night when she was leaving work and getting into her car, a man approached her from behind and stuck a knife into her side and told her, ‘Don’t look at me,’” said Hawkersmith.
According to Hawkersmith, the abductor climbed in the backseat of his daughter’s car, keeping the knife blade close to her side while he hid in the back.
“He told her where to go,” said Hawkersmith.
Fortunately, Hawkersmith’s daughter was unharmed in the incident. However, 18 years later she still can’t talk about the incident.
“If she were to hear us talking about it, she’d get up and leave,” said Hawkersmith.
The man who abducted her was never found.
For more information on the class call 931-967-5027.