Local martial arts school teaches kids how to use their backpacks for self-defense

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. - A martial arts school in Zephyrhills is teaching kids how to use their backpacks to defend themselves in a crisis situation. 

The Gary Hernandez Martial Arts school has started a monthly class called "Backpack Self-Defense."

"What we do is we train our kids to simply get their bags off, hold them up as a shield, and use them to protect themselves against a knife," school owner Gary Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he came up with the idea for the class after seeing school tragedies on the news, most recently the mass stabbing at a Pennsylvania high school. 

"It gives them time to get away versus just putting their hands up where they're going to get slashed. The bag will stop that," he said.

The parents in the audience Thursday night seemed to agree. 

Christie Vespie said she had been looking forward to taking her 11-year-old son to this class for quite awhile.

"I think he needs it. I think it's very important for him to learn what to do if somebody tries to attack his school or his class," Vespie said. 

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office believes a technique like this should only be used as a last resort. They advise kids to run, hide and then fight in that order. Kevin Doll, a spokesman with the sheriff's office, said using a backpack could help save a students life, but it should only be used if there's no other option. 

For more information about the backpack self-defense class go to www.garyhernandezmartialarts.com .

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