Graduates give kicks of approval for HH RAD course
February 15, 2013
The warning screams from within the Cpl. Terry L. Smith Gymnasium racquetball court exceeded tolerable decibel levels. Purposeful sweep kicks and hammer punches whizzed through the air. Defensive combinations of foot stomps and elbow smashes were incorporated into tight time blocks of repetitive drills.
Welcome to the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) self defense course, where close to a dozen females graduated Feb. 13 after the completion of four sessions on the Henderson Hall portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The female-only course is supported by Marine and Family Services Henderson Hall.
While the class is geared toward giving women the physical resources to protect themselves with heel stomps, hand jabs and blocks, instructor Molly Ryan, who also is a prevention and education specialist with MFS, summarized the main purpose of the class.
"This whole class is about disengaging and getting away from [an assailant]," she reminded the group, which included a 12-year-old student and a group of teenagers, during warm-up drills.
With the opening drills completed, the ladies learned in-depth about their final night of self defense training. The class finale would feature real-life simulations against would-be "assailants." Both the faux perpetrators, played by co-instructors Willie Acevedo and Omar Teran, would take part in the simulations.
"There will be two different scenarios --we're going to do an [ATM] automated teller machine scenario where they get attacked from the rear," Acevedo explained. "The second one is when they will come into the room with their eyes closed, so they don't know where or how they will be attacked. That can be very intimidating."
After dressing in their heavy-foamed, protective suits, Acevedo's and Tetan's appearances resembled a cross between a National Hockey League goalie and a life-sized rock-em, sock-em robot. The women also donned protective helmets and extremities padding before the attack practices. Each student then participated in a less-than 30 second scene where they were assaulted by two men.
After her first run-through, teenager Monique was not quite sure how she performed.
"I kind of thought it [the training] kind of all went out the window," she said after her half minute simulation where she actually did incorporate screaming, combo blocks and kicks into her self defense repertoire. "I can't wait to see the video tape."
The final evening simulations are taped for playback so pupils can analyze their performances under pressure and to witness what they did right. It also displays many evolutions that take place during the course. One is that instincts take over after the instruction, and another is that the sessions help assert confidence and self-esteem. "They now know how to respond, they know the stances, the kicking, the punching, the blocking," Acevedo mentioned. "But I see shy, quiet persons coming in [to the course] and they leave full of confidence."
The class was so important for Deborah, a District of Columbia office worker, she had to skip the ever-popular Henderson Hall Zumba classes to attend RAD.
"I'm glad I took advantage of the course," she said. "This gives you a better sense of awareness and security and safety. The teaching method is really simple and the repetitive practice is great. There's nothing hard about what we're doing. It is just common sense and simple techniques to get yourself familiar with your surroundings and to get away from your assailant."