Women at Fort Bliss strike back, learn to fight
April 15, 2013
FORT BLISS, Texas - A group of female soldiers and women from the Fort Bliss community attended a self-defense course Aug. 17 at the Fort Bliss Combatives Facility at East Fort Bliss. Two levels of training were taught over six hours, including the Introduction to Self Protection and Follow Up classes. The classes taught awareness of sociopathic behavior and methods of last line of defense attacks.
In April 2012, the Department of Defense released the "Annual Report on Sexual Assault" for fiscal 2011. The unrestricted reports revealed that 88 percent of victims were female with 51 percent between the ages of 20 and 24. The DoD is working to prevent assaults on all Soldiers and the military community.
Since 2008, the combatives team at Fort Bliss has taught female self-protection classes that set themselves apart from combatives by teaching the characteristics of a predator. The course concentrates on teaching awareness to help women recognize the signs of an attacker. If an attack occurs, women learn skills to defend themselves during an attack. "With proper training, women are erasing the perceived physical weakness by becoming more self-competent and even lethal," said retired Lt. Col. Eric Howard, Fort Bliss combatives director.
Howard began his career in fighting while in the military, where he completed the fourth level of combatives and continued martial arts training after he retired. Howard sees a need for female self-protection courses because he has two daughters and it should be practiced by all women.//Information is provided on self-protection in an urban environment and understanding how women become targets. The course concentrates on teaching awareness to help women recognize the signs of an attacker. If an attack occurs, women use skills they learned to defend themselves.
"Three hours of training for a 120-pound woman will give her confidence to fight, but with the awareness she won't have to fight," said Howard. "Brutal techniques are good as a last resort. Fighting will improve, the more women train.
"When fighting, women must react quickly and decisively to do damage," continued Howard. "Self-defense is not a sport but a means to dominate and get a predator away quickly."
Howard held the class with the help of two subject matter experts, Marcus Buonfiglio and Chester Peterson, experts from The Woodland, Texas, with a large knowledge of self-protection.
"The best part of the class was definitely the physical portion where we learned how to do damage to an attacker," said Christina Burney Cervantes after she practiced basic self-protection maneuvers, including how to get out of a forced wrist grab or choke grab and how to properly induce a sleeper hold.
"Letting go of general assumptions about violent crimes was important to understand," said Cervantes. "Women should not say to themselves, 'It could never happen to me,' because it happens. A close friend of mine was attacked."
According to Buonfiglio, a higher percent of attacks on women are by a friendly predator or someone they know and trust. Less attacks are by a force predator - the boogie man that jumps out of the bushes.
"It is better for a woman to avoid a situation than fight her way out of one. ... This is the situation we teach women to avoid and get out of."
"We are not trying to save the world," said Peterson. "We only wish to make women stand out so they are not chosen as prey by giving them tools of awareness."
For more information on self-defense classes visit the combatives facility at A493 Sapper St. at East Fort Bliss. The facility features striking bags, cross-trainer machines, elevated three-foot cages, a ground floor cage, and more than 5,000 square feet of spring-boarded mats.