Published: Jan 29, 2011 4:26 AM EST
Updated: Jan 29, 2011 1:32 AM EST

PORT CHARLOTTE Fla. - Women in Charlotte County came out swinging as they learned valuable and potentially life-saving self-defense skills. It's a program that, over the last few years, has exploded in popularity.

If someone approached or tried to attack you do you know who to react? From age 18 to 81, nearly 100 charlotte county women learned how to answer to that question Friday night.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, partnered with Charlotte County Community Services and Shuman's ATA Black Belt Academy taught prevention tips, pressure points and practical self defense.

"Everybody can learn how to protect themselves in some way," Dale Phillips of CCSO Crime Prevention said.

The free program began in 2006, and since then, has been bringing packed houses. "We are not trying to teach them how to be a black belt, how to beat somebody up, but to give them enough confidence where they can protect themselves and not become a victim," Al Shuman of Shuman's ATA Martial Arts said.

It didn't take long for that confidence to shine. "Hopefully the guys will think twice before they try to do anything with this many women that have registered," Kelly Studenwalt said.

"At least in charlotte county, they'll have to look out," Doreen Stoquert added.

The program is only open to women in Charlotte County. To learn more, you can call Dale Phillips at Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention, 941-258-3947