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Drizzt
July 11, 2002, 03:20 PM
The Dallas Morning News


July 5, 2002, Friday SECOND EDITION

SECTION: ROCKWALL-ROWLETT; Pg. 1R

LENGTH: 764 words

HEADLINE: Self-defense class begins with self-control;
Ex-council member gives gift of confidence to his students

SOURCE: Staff Writer

BYLINE: STEPHEN TERRY

DATELINE: ROWLETT

BODY:
Fear was getting the best of Lucinda Wolse.

When she lived in Houston, a gun-wielding stranger had forced his way into her apartment. Although the robber hadn't harmed Ms. Wolse, he had stolen her peace of mind.

"I was having problems feeling secure with myself and my surroundings," the Rowlett resident said. "I had to regain control." Nearly a year later, Ms. Wolse is coming to grips with her anxieties. And she has a former Rowlett City Council member to thank.

"It is a great tool for self-defense," Ms. Wolse said of the martial arts system taught for free by Michael Zang. "It has brought back a lot of my self-confidence. It teaches you how to get out of situations if it comes to that."

For 14 years, Mr. Zang has been instructing students in the jai yen yen system, which incorporates elements of more than a dozen fighting styles, including judo, tae kwon do, aikido and mui tai kickboxing. The Web site www.jaiyenyen.org lists Mr. Zang as an eighth-degree black belt and the No. 2-ranking practitioner of the system, which was founded in San Antonio in 1971.

For Mr. Zang, the lessons are more about self-control than getting the better of an opponent.

"I teach self-defense, but I want my students to learn about themselves," he said. "This is more about self-control than anything else. A lot of people have the concept of martial arts as they see it on television, commercialized. But it deals with the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of a person."

While instructing, Mr. Zang relies heavily on knowledge he gained from combat training in the military and working as a Dallas police officer.

"I was a Dallas police officer up until 1997," Mr. Zang said. "That is when I suffered a three-level spinal fusion in my back. I had to learn how to cope with my own personal issues."

Left legally blind by his spinal injury, Mr. Zang decided to reach out more to others.

In 1999, he was elected to the Rowlett City Council.

"Getting on the council was another way to help people," Mr. Zang said. "During my time on the council, I didn't have a lot of students. I focused all of my attention on council stuff. However, the reading requirements forced me off the council."

Mr. Zang then redirected his efforts toward instructing students and conducting seminars.

"I took a self-defense class that he provided during a seminar at the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind," said Trecia Chandler. "Some of the areas we go to aren't always safe. It was good to learn things we could use in situations where we felt uncomfortable."

Mr. Zang has also gone into various Rowlett neighborhoods to hold classes.

"He would come to our neighborhood in the evening when it was convenient for us and teach self-defense," said Karen Stailey, who lives near North Rowlett Road. "Our class had three adults and three children. And one of our neighbors even went to his home, where he offers a Saturday morning class."

Although Mr. Zang's classes are free, they aren't for everyone. Pressure points, punching techniques and kicks and holds are only part of the instruction.

"When they are in a position where they can get away," Mr. Zang said, "I teach them to run."

Students are also required to write an essay and make an oral presentation.

"I don't charge for the program, but I do select whether a person will be my student," Mr. Zang said. "I am looking for people who are serious and want to learn about themselves. I want students to learn how to hit a person but not hurt them. This isn't about beating someone up."

And any student who uses the lessons to hurt someone has to pay.

"They owe me 500 push-ups," Mr. Zang said. "You have to learn to be responsible for your actions. The human body is strong and tough, yet fragile. Typically, people are scared to hit it and scared to get hit. But my goal is to build personal confidence in my students."

Jennifer Jones has been studying with Mr. Zang for more than a year. The 18-year-old said she is familiar with self-restraint.

"There is a stereotype against women who learn martial arts," Ms. Jones said. "When people find out you know it, they will tell you to 'show us what you got.' But it is not all about that. You have to learn how to control your emotions."

Students who learn self-control tend to be more successful in Mr. Zang's classes.

"The people I teach learn what level of control they need," he said. "I want to build students' personal confidence without making them too confident."

woodland
July 11, 2002, 11:27 PM
"I want students to learn how to hit a person but not hurt them. This isn't about beating someone up."

Does this sound a little strange to anyone else?