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In court, San Francisco litigator Kristina Chung defends insurance clients against multimillion-dollar claims. With a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Chung can hold her own outside of court, too. The Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley associate is now helping others left feeling vulnerable by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “Being a woman, it’s just good to know how to defend yourself,” Chung said. Chung is helping her Tae Kwon Do instructor, Grand Master Heang Ki Paik, lead a free self-defense class for pilots and flight attendants whose own sense of personal safety was rattled when terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and used the planes to bomb the World Trade Center Towers. Chung, who earned her black belt a year ago, said she was training with Paik in September when the attack occurred. Paik, a Korean national who moved to the United States, wanted to do something for his new homeland. He asked Chung to help him contact flight attendants and pilots. Chung, whose flight-attendant friends have often shared horror stories of drunk and aggressive passengers, was eager to help. Working through pilots and flight attendant unions, Chung, 37, circulated fliers and e-mail and signed up 40 United Airlines and American Airlines employees for a free three-month self-defense class. Putting her legal skills to work, Chung also drafted a liability waiver. Chung said female flight attendants have been the most receptive because they don’t benefit from new security measures — like reinforced cockpit doors — and say the airlines are doing little to protect them. Chung and other instructors wield fake knives in sparring with students practicing their newly learned moves. Students repeatedly wrench the instructors’ arms behind their backs and throw them to the floor. Students are also taught some of the basic philosophies of Tae Kwon Do. “You do not use the information from this class for aggressive purposes,” Chung said. “The idea is you neutralize the situation and wait for backup.” Chung said Paik has tailored the class for beginners, and for the possible scenarios flight attendants might face. “He keeps in mind it’s in a small space — an airline aisle — and that some women may be wearing skirts,” Chung said. Chung, who has trained in Tae Kwon Do off and on for more than a decade, said family ties are partially what have drawn her to martial arts. Chung’s father is Korean, and her brother earned his black belt when he was 11. Chung, a 1993 graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington School of Law, compares martial arts training to practicing law. “At some point it all clicks and you figure out how to use what you’ve learned to practice law. It’s the same with martial arts,” she said. United flight attendant Theodosia Zeleznik said she’s learned a few self-defense moves she could use. She said the class has been great, especially since the airlines haven’t offered flight attendants any additional training. “I’ve been meaning to take some martial arts class. This was so available. It was the right place at the right time,” Zeleznik said. Zeleznik said Chung and Paik have made the class fun and valuable. “They get thrown around,” Zeleznik said. “We practice on them. They’re invincible, though.”

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