by Jazzmin Williams
Over two days, during four classes and with about 80 people in attendance, the women at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam sent out the message loud and clear: they are not to be messed with.
The CNIC Navy Security Forces Regional Training Academy performed a two-day clinic with a total of four self-defense classes for women July 7 and 8.
“Everyone thinks it [sexual assault] won’t happen to them, but all it takes is just that one time,” said Tracy Bennett, one of the class participants.
The conception of the class occurred at the Women’s Health and Fitness Fair on March 11, when security forces gained feedback and interest in a self-defense class. It was at that time that Col. Robert Lee, training program director, and Capt. Brad Miller, senior training instructor, decided to offer a women’s self-defense class.
“It’s very important that women are exposed to something like this,” said Lee. “This will reduce the numbers [of sexual assault and abuse] greatly if they have the skills to implement in those situations.”
Class participants spent the first half of the course in a classroom setting, learning the statistics of sexual assault, and how women can prevent such things from happening to them. They also learned that many incidents happen within the home, and it i s usually with someone they know.
“In those situations, your mind tends to freeze up, but we know what to do now so that we don’t panic,” said Heather Warden, another participant.
The second half of the course was in a padded, well-lit dojo. Participants partnered up and learned defensive moves, as well as moves to separate themselves from an attacker long enough to run away. They then practiced these and various other moves that could work in multiple situations on their partners.
The class had some laughs, but there was an underlying note of seriousness, especially when the instructors discussed the importance of what they were learning.
Miller stressed not worrying about your purse or possessions, because you can’t put a price tag on your life.
“We’re doing this so that you don’t become a statistic,” said Miller. “We’re doing this so you can become a success story.”
Class members seemed to take this to heart, with participants ranging from active duty Air Force and Navy to wives and family members, as well as Department of Defense employees.
“I’m preparing to deploy and have never been given any kind of defense training,” said Tech Sgt. Sarah Peterson of Pacific Air Force, Judge Advocate office. “I’m doing this to protect myself and partially to pass on to my daughters.”
“As a woman, compromising situations are inevitable, and it’s important to learn techniques to escape, especially when it’s the people that you know doing it,” Peterson said.
Instructors told the women that they gave them the tools and chances for success, but that they would have to practice them on their own. It was recommended that all women go out and do the research, find self-defense classes, and hone their skills.
When asked what he most hoped women took from these classes, Miller’s response was simple: “Confidence. One word.