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SHSU to attempt world record to raise self-defense awareness


Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 23:01

Sam Houston State University’s attempt to have its name in the record books has been postponed to Feb. 19 because of the cold snap.

SHSU Student Legal and Mediation Services announced Tuesday their effort to raise self-defense awareness and attempt to break the world record for the most participants in a single self-defense class is on hold to ensure student and community safety.

Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Gene Roberts, director of Student Legal and Mediation Services said he’s disappointed the event is postponed but emphasized student and community safety is priority number one.

“We don’t want people out in inclement weather,” Roberts said. “There’s no need to have people exposed to the weather for thirty minutes to an hour for an event. To me, the whole message we’re trying to send is that we’re a safe campus.”

In conjunction with Student Activities, Student Legal Services has invited a Guinness Book of World Records representative to SHSU to witness the world record attempt in which more than 2,012 participants are needed to break the record.  Currently, the record is held by the South American Krav Maga Federation, which set the record in 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Student Services Program Director Steven Begnaud said the event is a “win-win,” as the event will bring national and international recognition to SHSU and self-defense awareness to the student body.

“We wanted to ensure campus safety and one of the ways in doing that is open a seminar, free of charge, in self-defense,” Begnaud said. “We can be flashy with the world record, but the idea is to teach self-defense. It’s the cherry on top to break it.”

Roberts said the seminar is driven to educate students about self-defense on college campuses and give them the tools to use if needed.

“We hope it’s something that no one has to use, but it’s useful information if you have to use it,” Roberts said.

With a targeted goal of 2,500 participants, associate professor of geography and five-time black belt Marcus Gillespie will lead the class in basic Hapkido movements.  

Gillespie, who has taught self-defense classes at SHSU for 12 years, said the techniques he will demonstrate can be immensely effective, if used at full speed. Although Gillespie has led classes with about 15 students, he is excited to head a tremendously larger venue.

“It’ll be an exciting event to be apart of this,” he said.  “This is a whole different level, a whole different level of venue to do something like this. I hope those who come want to learn about self-defense.”

Since 2007, SHSU has reported an average of five sexual assault incidents and two aggravated assault incidents on campus per year, according to the University Police Department’s annual crime statistics.

Seasoned Hapkido students taught by Gillespie will help participants on the field while the geography professor is elevated on a platform with a video display available for everyone to see his positions. Students from Huntsville High School will be in attendance to help position participants.

For those interested in participating, registration is free at the door at the northwest entrance of Bowers Stadium.

Check-in will begin at 5:15 p.m. with the class starting at 6 p.m. 

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