Students in a new self-defense class at Eastern Kentucky University got an expert opinion Monday on what they can and cannot do to defend themselves.

The 27 female students in the self-defense for women class heard a lecture from Madison District Judge Earl-Ray Neal about how Kentucky law deals with self-defense during attacks.

Instructor Ron Boyd started the class this year to help female students protect themselves on campus. “The goal would be for women to learn what to do and what their rights are,” Boyd said.

“There are a lot of untrue things out there and women should know what they can do and how to protect themselves.”

Neal, who has trained in martial arts with Boyd, discussed the types of force defined in Kentucky law, the limits on the use of force in self-defense and limitations on domestic violence and emergency protection orders.

“That piece of paper may have my signature on it, but that doesn’t make it bulletproof,” Neal told the class.

Neal said he enjoys speaking to groups because it allows him to help the public understand the legal system and their rights.

“One of the important parts of being a district judge is informing the public,” Neal said. “That’s why Judge (Brandy O.) Brown and I spend as much time as possible in the schools and at the university to inform people about what they can and can’t do.”

The class is designed to allow students to practice self-defense techniques including where and how to hit an attacker as well as teaching students to be more observant of their surroundings to avoid dangerous situations, according to the class syllabus.

“We want to promote self-confidence and a well-being on campus,” Boyd said.

Brian Smith may be reached at or at 624-6694.

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