Fourth-degree karate black-belt Brett Geaber leads students in self-defense seminar. PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Clark

Fourth-degree black belt in karate Brett Geaber was invited by the University of Rhode Island’s Campus Recreation to host a self-defense seminar on the Quad last Wednesday for students and faculty. 

Geaber, the owner of Innovate Karate in North Kingstown, has been studying martial arts for over 30 years and has been teaching karate at his studio for eight. 

The class consisted of eight students, and Geaber made sure each student was following along throughout the seminar. He also emphasized the importance of self-defense.

“I think that everyone should have some understanding or awareness of how to defend themselves,” Geaber said. “People should know the proper techniques and be prepared ahead of time before anything happens.”

While self-defense may seem easy to some, Geaber stressed that it is important to learn proper techniques for it to be effective in a real-life self-defense situation.

Students learned some basic techniques at the beginning of the class. Hip-hop music played in the background while Geaber guided the seminar through warm-up routines and taught the students how to properly punch and strike. 

Moving past the basics, students worked together using pads and practiced getting out of simple holds on each other.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Geaber taught other self-defense seminars at URI. He said that while in the past he had done classes inside, he enjoyed being able to teach outside on the Quad in the beautiful weather.

Due to the limited number of spaces for indoor fitness classes and the number of students who have shown interest in these classes prior, Fitness and Wellness Director Denise Robbin decided to hold the class outside where a greater number of people could attend.

“A few years back, we had the classes taught in the Mind and Body studio at Anna Fascitelli,” Robbin said. “Those classes can only hold up to 24 people and there was always a waitlist.”

Geaber was due to come back to URI during the spring 2020 semester, right before COVID-19 hit. Robbin said that she is excited to have him back now that it is safe.

“The seminar was a great [experience] for the people that were there,” Robbin said. “I think self-defense is such [an] important skill for students to know.”

Campus recreation wanted to host the seminar at the beginning of the semester so that the students could learn basic self-defense right away, according to her.

“We wanted to have this class at the beginning of the fall for when students first come to campus,” Robbin said. “It’s self-defense; students need to know this.”

Robbin also emphasized the importance of self-defense seminars and students being able to properly protect themselves. She described the class as “valuable” and noted that her past self-defense classes with Geaber have also been greatly helpful.

“The last time we hosted a seminar, I took the class as a participant,” she said. “I felt more confident in being able to protect myself. I want every student to feel that way.”

Despite the low attendance of the seminar, Geaber made the most of his first seminar back on campus and left his students with the basic knowledge of how to defend themselves.