Toledo Crime Deterrent Program Offers Free Self Defense Classes for Girls and Women


About 40 women and girls between the ages of 7 and 89 gathered in the fellowship hall of Toledo Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, not for a Holy Week service, but to learn self defense.  

The free class was the first in a series of eight organized by the Toledo Police Department’s newly-created Community Crime Deterrent Program to help women and girls learn the basics of self defense. 

Statistics compiled by the Community Crime Deterrent Program show that annually in the U.S., about 31 million total crimes are reported, about 389,100 women are victimized by an intimate partner, and over a quarter of a million women and teenage girls are reported missing. 

“The point of this is to hopefully get you guys, obviously not scared, but to gain some situational awareness,” said Tiffany Schumann, who taught Wednesday’s class alongside Bill Garrison.  

Schumann, who lives with her family in Toledo and owns Steamboat Expresso, spent three of her nine years in the U.S. Army as a combatives instructor. Garrison, a fellow Toledo resident, is a martial arts instructor who holds a brown belt in jiu-jitsu and a black belt in aikido. 

The two instructors ran class participants through a series of basic defense techniques that women and girls of all sizes and physical abilities can use to get away from an attacker. 

“You're probably not going to walk away from here super confident, but it's hopefully going to give you the base knowledge and then … the more you do these maneuvers and behaviors, the more comfortable you're going to be if you ever do get put in a situation that you have to use it,” Schumann said. 

Each of the eight classes will include a review of the techniques taught in the previous classes and a chance to practice the techniques with a partner. 

Participants are encouraged, but not expected, to attend as many of the eight classes as they can to get more comfortable with the defense techniques. 

“Are you expected to come? No. Would it be nice? Yes,” said Bill Linn, captain of the Community Crime Deterrent Program. 

As of Thursday morning, 31 women and girls had already signed up to attend the upcoming April 19 class, Linn said. 

All eight classes in the series are free to attend and are open to all women and girls ages 7 and up. 

While the classes are coordinated by the Toledo Police Department and take place in Toledo, attendees do not have to be Toledo residents to participate. 

The April 19 class will run 6 to 8 p.m. at Toledo Presbyterian Church at 312 Augustus St. in Toledo. Times and locations for the remaining six classes have yet to be determined, Linn said. 

For more information or to pre-register, email