In the 1980s, Pacific University student Nancy Foster was a blue belt learning taekwondo from Doug Tesdal when her neighbor strangled her in her Forest Grove apartment.
Tesdal has been offering free women's self-defense classes ever since at his Forest Grove Korean martial arts studio, Kim's Taekwon-Do.
"I actually felt guilty; I felt like I let her down and didn't give her enough skills," Tesdal said. "When I heard what happened to her, I knew what I needed to do — give women the tools to get away from somebody if the situation arose."
Tesdal's free fast-paced classes give women self-protection skills over three weeks, not over the years of intense study many taekwondo students undergo. He's taught hundreds of women how to defend themselves since his first class in 1986, including Susan Klaumann.
Klaumann — a seventh-degree black belt who fell in love with the art after taking Tesdal's first free class — co-teaches the unit. Klaumann, a longtime Forest Grove resident and Portland physical therapist, remembers Foster's murder. She also remembers a serial killer inundating news reports at the time. That first class in 1986 had 60 people in it. Now the classes draw anything from five to 40.
Klaumann continued her studies in martial arts and volunteers her time once or twice a year during Tesdal's self-defense classes. "It's my way to give back," she said.
The class focuses on preventing attacks, teaching participants about awareness, personal space and observing people in their surroundings. Tesdal also teaches women how to get away from attackers using leverage and technique instead of relying solely on brute strength.
Many participants come to the class because they've been attacked before, Tesdal said, but many just want to learn to be more confident walking to their cars at night.
Tesdal has been studying taekwondo since the 1970s after being introduced to the practice while serving in the Vietnam War — and after a childhood spent watching Bruce Lee movies.
The classes will be held at 4315B Pacific Ave. in Forest Grove Tuesday and Thursday nights for three weeks. The classes start Tuesday, Aug. 15, and are 7 to 8:30 p.m.