Self-defense Training Paid Off For One Woman Alone In A Florida Hotel Room

In threatening situations, self-defense expert Il Ling New said that there is a little voice in the back of most people's heads that blares, "Warning! Warning! You are in danger!"

Kat Needham, a biotechnology researcher in the Bay Area with a degree with molecular biology, said she was getting the message loud and clear.

"I used to go into work by myself in South San Francisco and I'd be there late at night, on the weekends or very early, and nobody friendly would be around for hours," Needham said. "Sometimes it would be eerie and scary along the railroad tracks. Being there by myself, I wanted to make sure I could protect myself."

That led her to Gunsite, where she met New. Needham took a handgun course for self-protection, and later returned to take several other courses.

"It's rare to find a woman who has a mind-set like that," Needham said. "The two of us are on the same wavelength. We talk about situations about self-defense all the time. Watching Il Ling instructing, it gives me more confidence in myself."

In class, New lectured that you have no control of the time or place when you might face a surprise showdown. In Needham's case, it came on a business trip to Florida, where she had checked into a hotel room, chained the door and set her pistol on the bedside.

"I was relaxing for a moment when somebody suddenly opened the door," Needham said. "They were coming into the room. The chain stopped them. I grabbed my pistol and racked a round so they could hear the action and know I had a gun."

Needham remembers shouting: "Stop! Do not come in! Who are you?"

The guy yelled back, deep and menacing, 'I'm coming in,' Needham recalled.

"Do not come in!" she shouted back. "I have a gun! Leave!"

The intruder wedged his arm past the door and wrestled to try to unhook the safety chain. The arm was "huge and hairy and it scared me," Needham said.

Her training kicked in. She positioned herself around a corner, pointing her .45 Colt semi-automatic pistol at point-blank range and again shouted a warning: "Do not come in. I have a gun. If you come in, I will shoot you."

For the intruder, logic apparently set in -- and the man ran off down the hall. Needham said hotel security did not find him. "Nobody knew anything."

Later, she reviewed the episode with New. "The first thing she asked me was, 'Did he follow you to the room?'

"I wasn't sure," Needham said. "I was in a place I'd never been before. I was by myself. I didn't know what to expect. If he had come in, I would have been in fear of my life, and I would have shot him.

"If I hadn't had the training, I wouldn't have had the confidence to know I could take care of myself."

Originally published at SFGate.com

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