By Mark Iacampo, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Public AffairsFebruary 20, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany -- It's a scenario no woman wants to believe will happen to them, but according to the United Nations Regional Information Center, one in three women will be beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime.
Linda Vu wants to change that.
In association with Armed Forces Entertainment, Vu brought her dynamic self-defense seminars to installations around Europe this month, ending in Hohenfels Feb. 13. Joined by a team of specialists whose backgrounds include SWAT, mixed martial arts and close quarter combat, Vu provided interactive instructions for a variety of attack scenarios.
"This is practical, reality-based self-defense," said Vu. "It's not like a sport martial art. I want to make sure the ladies have something they can use when they're out on the street."
Vu began studying Wing Chun Kung Fu and close quarter combat seven years ago after surviving an attack herself.
"Learning martial arts has taken my confidence to a whole new level," she said. "When I had the opportunity to teach other women, I took it. I don't want any woman to be in that situation."
Breaking the participants into groups, Vu and her team demonstrated such scenarios as attacks from behind, choke holds, and knife attacks. Her techniques are a hybrid blend of various aspects of Kung Fu, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and close quarter combat.
"We've tried to make it simplified using the best of all the techniques," said Vu's husband and producer Don Barnhart. "Hopefully this will inspire women to want to take a martial arts class, but this is something they can walk out and use today."
At 5 feet tall and only 86 pounds, Vu's techniques use an attacker's size, strength and aggression against them. The moves were fast, simple and effective, capable of disarming or disabling an attacker, even when armed with a knife or a gun, in seconds.
"I just want to give them something that's practical and easy to use in three or four steps," Vu said. "I know if a technique works for me, it will work for any woman."
"We don't want the women to fight," added Barnhart. "We want them to create a scenario where they have three to five seconds to get away."
Vu also demonstrated techniques for escaping should an attacker manage to get a woman pinned beneath him.
"Being on the ground is the most vulnerable position you can be in," said Vu. "Even if you were making out and you decide this is as far as you want to go, and that person tries to cross a line -- he is no longer your friend, no longer your love interest -- you've got to get him off you."
Barnhart said it helps attendees realize the power of the techniques when they see the diminutive Vu tossing 200 pound men off of her.
"What we want to do is empower women," he said. "Just that they know how to do this might give them more confidence, give them that explosive power mentally as well as physically so they know they don't have to be a victim."
"The outcome (of an attack) is not predetermined. You now have the power to change the outcome," he added.
The participants took the message to heart.
Allison Moore attended the seminar with several friends who said they travel together a lot and wanted to feel safer while touring a foreign country.
"I feel like Supergirl," Moore joked. "The best thing it taught me was to take a moment, breathe, and think about it. Don't just panic."
"I think it's a really good idea that they're offering this," said Jaclyn Martinez. "And the instructors were very patient, easy to work with, helping you with your moves and correcting you so you can get out of the situation."
Sayoko Patterson, who trains and competes with the Hohenfels Brazilian jiu jitsu team, agreed.
"The instructors were great, very good at breaking the moves down and teaching us the proper techniques," she said.
Barnhart said one of the more difficult aspects of the seminars was in taking such a serious subject and keeping it lighthearted, refreshing and fun. But, judging from the excited laughter and smiling faces of the participants, his team pulled it off.
"The response has been amazing," said Vu. "It's an honor and a privilege to do this, especially with military spouses who may not get the chance to train like regular troops. The women seem to love it. I am thrilled to be here and so happy I have the opportunity to do this."