NEPA native Jordan Giarratano appears on ‘GMA’ after student fends off attack
A Northeastern Pennsylvania native was featured on “Good Morning America” on Friday after self-defense techniques he taught a Seattle woman allowed her to fend off a savage attack.
Jordan Giarratano, 35, formerly of West Pittston, appeared on the national news program after jogger Kelly Herron, 36, fought off a violent assailant who cornered her in a public restroom in a Seattle park.
Herron had recently attended a two-hour self-defense workshop taught by Giarratano at her place of employment.
According to her account of the incident on “GMA,” Herron was drying her hands when she sensed a threat and knew she was going to respond.
Herron suffered cuts and bruises but successfully deterred her attacker and decided to tell her story to empower other women.
Giarratano, owner of Fighting Chance Seattle, began his martial arts training under Len Galli at Fighting Chance in Exeter.
He earned his black belt at 16 and taught self-defense courses at a young age, but didn’t open up his own dojo until 2011 after training in karate, kick-boxing, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and grappling.
“I always thought I would be a hobbyist,” Giarratano said. But “I was starting to have some pretty strong opinions about what should be taught and what shouldn’t be taught.”
Within 18 months of opening his doors, Giarratano had a full school. He teaches adults and children and periodically conducts corporate self-defense workshops designed to empower women to take control of their own safety.
Giarratano said Herron’s successful defense actually started before the physical confrontation.
“Knowing yourself is the best tool you can have in self-defense,” Giarratano said. “I believe in trusting your intuition. If you feel somebody is following you, act on it. If you don’t think you should go into a room, don’t go into that room.”
Herron, Giarratano said, responded to her feeling that she was in danger and prepared to act.
“If it does happen, fight back as quickly and viciously as you can.”
He said Herron fought back by taking “hard bones and putting them in soft places,” a method he stresses in class.
Herron was able to gouge at her assailant’s eyes and hit him in the neck and face, incapacitating him enough to give up his attack.
“What’s most surreal is that she just did a two-hour workshop with me,” Giarratano said. “I talked to her Monday, and I was really impressed at how much she retained and what came to her in the adrenaline response of that attack.”
Giarratano said he is used to the satisfaction of empowering students to stand up for themselves and prevent violence, which he notes is the best-case scenario. But to get feedback that his teaching potentially saved a life is “almost too big to wrap your head around.”
“I feel humbled and I feel valuable that I was a link in the chain that brought this information to her,” Giarratano said. “It’s something I do because I believe women should feel safe. It’s emotionally, philosophically and spiritually important to me.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
• Jordan Giarratano plans to launch a new website aimed at thought leadership for a national audience. His philosophy will use practical karate as a lens to examine rape culture and the future of the martial art. For announcements, follow Giarratano on Twitter @BudoPunk.