Fort Rucker class teaches defense against aggressors
Ozark Police Agent and Criminal Investigator James Isler, shows Sarah May how to carry out a defense plan against Fort Rucker Criminal Investigation Division Investigator Michael Holmes April 16. Post and local law officials hosted a self-defense techniques course that day to teach community members how to reduce their risks of sexual assault.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Community members took kicks and threw punches to learn to better protect themselves against sexual assault by attending a self-defense techniques class April 16 at Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Facility.

Installation and Wiregrass martial arts instructors and law enforcement officials demonstrated how to physically defend against attackers and offered attendees simple protection tips.

"If you don't plan for a situation before it happens, there's no way to know how you'll be able to respond to it," said Raymond Massey, Fort Rucker Criminal Investigation Division special agent. "(It's about) making yourself comfortable doing what you have to do to survive."

He said the event was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month to, hopefully, reduce the number of incidents throughout the Army.

Massey showed participants common items often carried in pockets or purses can be used as self-defense weapons. Tools include pencils, pens, small flashlights, change rolls, keys, mace spray and others. People should prepare by having these items within easy reach and should feel comfortable using them if the need arises.

He said many assaults happen because people put themselves in bad situations. Mitigating risky circumstances include using the buddy system when going out at night and being conscious of alcohol consumption at parties or on dates, Massey noted.

Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Eldridge Conley demonstrated karate, judo and Keichu-Do techniques to instill confidence in participants.

A former Fort Rucker Soldier and the owner of Conley's Keichu-Do Martial Arts in Enterprise, Conley said he believes practicing martial arts can save lives.

"I enjoy teaching Soldiers (because) I like to share what I know with others," he said. "Self-defense is something you can use more than one way. It could save your life one day and it will keep you in shape. If you start it, it becomes a part of you."

Attendee Sarah May said she believes proactive behavior is critical to staying safe and said she will pass along what she learned last week to her daughters.

"These things happen, and I don't want to be a victim. If you change your thinking to be proactive, you can do something. You can change your situation," May said.

Military spouse Nathaly Soto said she attended "because you never know what's going to happen."

She said she believes the most important result from last week's class was bringing sexual assault into the limelight and removing the topic's stigma through discussion.

Males benefit just as much as women do when it comes to defense training, according to Spc. Nicholas Conway, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment. He said he was assaulted as a teenager and wants to better protect himself and his wife in the future.

"It could happen to anybody," he said. "Learn to defend yourself."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16