GREAT FALLS - According to America's Health Rankings, the number of violent crimes statewide has steadily increased since 2014. In the coming week, a former Bozeman police officer turned martial arts instructor wants to show community members how they can prepare for any given situation.
Every year, Taekwondo Master Scott Miranti, who's taught the sport for over 40 years, hosts seminars on defending yourself in violent situations at Big Sky Taekwondo. He often goes for simple, yet effective solutions, using basic punches, kicks and even your own walking stick to protect yourself if you absolutely have to.
"A poke to the eye can be a life or death defense," said Miranti.
He even taught me how to disarm someone in a possible active shooter situation, through a hands on demonstration, so to speak. He had me walk through a doorway with a fake rifle in hand, before he slowly simulated throwing me against the door frame and hitting me with my own weapon.
As a member of the Great Falls' Neighborhood Council, Miranti said the lessons are just one way he promotes safety in the Electric City.
"Public safety is important right now, and you just don't know if you're going to be at the wrong place at the right time unfortunately, and have to deal with something."
But even so, in a dangerous scenario, Miranti recommends finding a safe exit whenever possible. For instance, if there’s a sizable window, you can find and use a blunt object to break and rake the glass, giving you a means to escape.
"We're trying to give them a mindset to be safe, took at their situation,” said Miranti, who also taught defensive tactics to other officers during his time in Bozeman. “Dark street, lighted street, which one you going to walk down? Things like that."
Other lessons also touch on how to find shelter if you can't escape, but Miranti wants to emphasize that a single session alone won't fine-tune your safety skills, unless you have the discipline to practice.
"Practice, practice, practice makes instinct," said the Taekwondo Master.
The next seminar takes place on February 20th, 7:00 pm at Big Sky Taekwondo (920 13th Avenue South, Great Falls, MT 59405). It will be free and open to everyone above the age of 13. There’s no registration needed, but you’re asked to arrive a few minutes early to sign a waiver form, and minors must have a parent’s signature to take part.