Military News

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Self-defense for women

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/26/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Army Staff Sgt. Stephanie Kiser, 725th Brigade Support Battalion Motor Transport Operator, was nervous. Her eyes were closed and her world threatened. Someone was toying with her ponytail, teasing and bullying her.

The suspense of the moment built up around her. She didn't like the situation.

This creep is touching me, she thought. I need to get him off me somehow.

Her mind whirled around her optional reactions -- various ways to attack the groin, strikes to the nose or face, stomps and other moves. The ultimate goal: to get the guy off her so she could get to safety.

His arms wrapped around her then and tightened into a bear hug. She reacted reflexively, and soon her self-defense instructor was on the floor in his full body protective gear, praising her swift reactions as she simulated running to safety.

"It was really fun," Kiser said, "Your adrenaline's rushing and you're like 'oh man, I don't know when they're going to attack me' and it's actually really good. Once they do grab onto you, you feel a lot more confident once you've gotten that person off of you and you're running away from them. You feel this wave of confidence come over you. It was really fun."

The self-defense course is used to give women a set of tools to get away from a bad situation, said Sgt. 1st Class Virgil Allen, a certified self-defense instructor.

"It's not rape self-defense; it's defense against getting into a bad situation," the native of Fort Worth, Texas, said. "That's what it really is; teaching a female to get away."

The course is similar to an internationally recognized program called Rape Aggressor Defense. The mission of R.A.D. Systems is to establish an accessible, constantly improving and internationally respected alliance of dedicated instructors. The instructors provide educational opportunities for women, children, men and seniors to create a safer future for themselves. They challenge society to evolve into an existence where violence is not an acceptable part of daily life, their website says.

The self-defense course starts by educating women on how to avoid bad situations. This included avoiding texting or otherwise actively using a cell phone while walking through an isolated area like a parking garage at night, or dark alley, Kiser said.

"I think it's really important to be aware of your surroundings and to know what to do if somebody attacks you," she said.

One goal, Allen said, is to give females confidence so that any potential aggressors don't find them easy targets.

"This is my first time taking this class," said Angie Erickson, Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention victim advocate. "For me, I think it's really important to be vigilant in your surroundings. It gave me awareness that I'm not without options when I come up against someone trying to hurt me."

The course is offered free on base.

"I really enjoyed the self-defense course," Kiser said. "I've learned new things; it's really easy and it's fun."

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