Samantha (Sam) Maddox first took martial arts as a PE course at Wofford in the early 90’s. She really liked it and soon she was earning multiple black belts. Today, Maddox (’93) is teaching the martial arts to young men and women on the same campus where she first learned the basics.
“I was looking for a way to give back to Wofford, and thought this would be a pretty good opportunity to do that,” says Maddox. “I had been teaching personal safety classes, primarily to young women. It’s not just about safety, though. This teaches students to look at their bodies as a source of strength and to keep their bodies healthy.”
Kat Plunkett is a Wofford sophomore who enjoys taking Maddox’s class. She says she signed up for it not just for safety, but also for the health benefits.
“You like to stay as healthy as you possibly can because it’s very hard to eat well at college,” says Plunkett. “Hopefully, I’ll never be in the position where I have to defend myself, but if it ever happens, I’d like to be prepared.
“It’s really nice that Wofford has made this possible here on campus. I’ve always wanted to do martial arts and now I can fit it in my schedule and I learn some good stuff.”
According to Maddox, less is more when it comes to teaching a beginner’s class.
“The basic skills are the ones that they’re going to use the most,” she says. “We try to stay away from the really complicated submission holds and tackles. In a time of high anxiety they’re simply not going to remember all of that.
“We focus a lot on using the weapons that the human body already has, and practice, practice, practice. Certain things that attackers do like grabbing from behind…we teach how to combat those and execute them perfectly.”
If it prevents or thwarts one attack, then it could be one of the most important classes these students will take. Maddox says a prior student has told her that she unfortunately was put in a position where she had to use her new skills. In the United States, a woman is sexually assaulted or raped every two minutes.
“I think every person knows someone who has had a situation where they wish they had known things,” says Maddox. “Not only that, but learning the martial arts keeps the body and the mind sharp. It increases your confidence. I feel more comfortable in every situation. There’s no situation where I feel intimidated for my personal safety.”