by Senior Airman Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
2/28/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Nearly
30 Team Malmstrom members gathered at the base fitness center Feb. 22
to attend a Gracie Defense Systems kickoff seminar aimed to promote
self-defense among the base population.
Taught by on-base GDS pink-belt certified instructors, the two-hour
class was a way for anyone interested to get a taste of the 15-technique
"We're having a two-hour kickoff seminar to introduce the base to Gracie
Academy's Gracie Defense System," said Tina Steffen, Malmstrom
dependent and GDS instructor. "It's a program they designed specifically
for the Air Force to teach people how to combat sexual assault... They
realized a couple of years ago that the incidents of sexual assault
within the Air Force were high and they felt they could do something,
and that's what we're doing today. We're sharing six of the 15
techniques that the Gracie Academy has determined through working with
law-enforcement officials that are the most likely scenarios that could
During the seminar, participants were taught combat base, base get up,
push base, pull base, wrist releases, one front-choke defense and a
trap-and-roll technique. Combat base is a stance, or posture, developed
to make an individual more sturdy and stable, and base get up is the
technique used to get up off of the ground into a combat base stance.
Push and pull base are techniques used to prevent being pushed or pulled
into a secluded space and wrist releases are used to release an
attacker's grip from a wrist. The front-choke defense taught
participants how to get out of a choking scenario, and the trap-and-roll
defense taught them what to do if an attacker is on top of them.
The kickoff event was an introduction to a self-defense class that will
be taught on Malmstrom Air Force Base every Saturday at 10 a.m. and
Tuesday at 6 p.m. starting March 1. One cycle, which teaches all 15
techniques, consists of 10 classes. Successful completion of the GDS
program, which would include a video test sent into the Gracie Academy
for review, will be awarded with a pink belt for the testing individual.
Anyone interested in obtaining their pink belts are encouraged to take
the 10-class cycle at least four times to be efficient enough to test.
"You don't have to take the seminar to start taking the classes, and you
don't have to take the classes after you've taken the seminar," Steffen
said. "[Self-defense] makes a stronger person, not only physically, but
mentally. I think everybody should know what to do if somebody grabs
you, what to do if somebody is approaching you so that they don't get
close enough to grab you, what to do if somebody is sitting on you and
they're bigger than you and want to get away."
The GDS self-defense course is taught based on the methods and
techniques used in Gracie, or Brazilian, Jiu-Jitsu created by the Gracie
"The Grand Master Hélio Gracie, who created Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, was
smaller than most of his opponents so Gracie Jiu-Jitsu... was created to
allow a smaller opponent to overcome his adversary," said 1st Lt. Jason
Sawyers, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron flight commander. "I
think that these specific techniques in the GDS course are potentially
lifesaving, so it's invaluable... Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is a very useful
tool as far as self-defense goes, but it also teaches you discipline and
a lot of these folks here get great workouts. It doesn't just teach you
self-defense in the physical aspect, it also teaches the mental
preparedness and the confidence to go out and make sure that you feel
secure. For a lot of potential victims and also victims out there, it's
very important to be able to leave their house and feel confident that
they can handle certain situations that can come up."
According to Sawyers, the on-base instructors are trying to expand the
GDS course into the surrounding communities. They've contacted Montana
State University in hopes of starting a class for the college students.
"We just want to promote a community of people who accept that it's a
problem and that there are definitely prevention techniques out there,"
Sawyers said. "It's absolutely free - we're not interested in any money,
we just want to help people to defend themselves if a situation arises
and to be confident that they can go out there and handle the
The kickoff event ended up being a tremendous success with individuals
learning specific techniques that could help defend themselves in an
"It's been a great experience," said Maj. Marianne Nassef, Air Force
Reserve Command chaplain. "I've actually enjoyed learning all of the
different techniques, and it's really a lot easier than I thought it
would be. I thought it was going to be a lot more complicated, but what
they've been teaching us are really easy things that you can practice at
home. I really appreciate them offering it."
For more information on Malmstrom's Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, visit their
official facebook page at www.facebook.com/malmstromgraciejiujitsu,
their blog at www.gfmtgraciejiujitsu.blogspot.com or via email at