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Experts encourage parents to teach their children self-defense

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As children in West Michigan prepare to head back to school some say this is the time for parents to make sure their kids have the tools they need to fight back should they be attacked.

The story of four brave girls in the thumb area turning the tables on a potential kidnapper this week has been shared across the country. Some say it’s the perfect example of the power of fighting back.

McKayla Morgan, from Plainwell, is no average 9-year-old. In karate, she finds the strength to face any situation.

“A smaller person that doesn't have a lot of confidence can be bullied easier,” said McKayla.

McKayla learns how to push the arms of an attacker away, how to kick and punch at Valor Martial Arts in Kalamazoo.

"It gives me a chance to be able to get away,” she said.

"They need to know that they have the ability to defend themselves so they don't feel helpless,” said Sensei Nick Intgroen.

Intgroen said every child has the power to overcome an assailant.

“We have to really prepare in a way that we hadn't before,” he said. “It's getting to a point where that's almost a necessity now."

April Morgan, Mckayla's mother, agrees.

“The more I thought about it, in the world that we live in gives her an edge up, especially as she's getting older and maybe facing some situations that she might not want to be in she'll have a way of maybe being able to escape,” April said.

McKayla hopes other parents provide their kids with this kind of knowledge.

"Say a kid's playing in a front yard and no parent is watching, we can use karate to get ourselves away from that person that's trying to take us,” she said.

Intgroen said kids that want to learn self-defense need to practice often.

"You might have all the knowledge in the world of any martial arts and self-defense moves, but unless that confidence has been built you won't know whether or not you're OK to use it or if it's going to actually work,” Intgroen said. "The last situation that we want is for them to actually use their karate, but if they do need to do it they have to be able to commit and have confidence to use it.”

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