Martial arts expert offers self-defense class for women

Sexual assault is currently a big topic at the University of Minnesota and college campuses across the country.

Now, a local karate and fitness center owner is hoping to give young women the tools they may need to fight back in a scary situation.

A victim of rape on the U of M campus, Abby Honold recently received national attention on the TV show "Dr. Phil."

Her rapist, Daniel Drill-Mellum, is sentenced to six years behind bars in state prison. In court, we learned that Drill-Mellum, a promising and well-liked college student, had hurt other young women.

His conviction caught the attention of Aaron Palleson, owner of MN Karate and Fitness Center in northeast Minneapolis.

“In my opinion, no means no. Then it's either time to leave or resort to something else," Palleson said.

Palleson is committed to giving women the tools they need to fight back in sexually threatening situations, particularly on college campuses.

"Most people think ‘it will never happen to me,’ and hopefully that's the case. But, clearly, this is a bigger issue than we want to discuss,” he said.

Over the summer, Palleson used the high-profile case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to offer women a free self-defense class.

He dubbed it the “Brock Turner Beatdown” and pasted Turner's mug shot on the strike bags.

The class quickly filled up.

This Friday, Drill-Mellum will get the same treatment, his prison booking photo placed at the center of the bullseye as a couple dozen women learn to use open hand palm strikes, groin kicks and thumbs to the eyes in case they need to defend themselves from a sexual aggressor.

“We want it to be a proactive approach, not reactive,” Palleson said. “So, we take a fairly aggressive stance where you strike first and ask questions later."