FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), attended self-defense classes July 24-25 at Fort Drum, New York, as part of the U.S. Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program.
The free classes were offered by a local martial arts gym owner who wanted to give Soldiers tools to avoid becoming victims themselves or assist others through direct intervention in an attack.
"It's always important to be able to protect yourself," said Coach O'Brien Brickey, owner of Premier Martial Arts and instructor for the classes. "I hope people are able to walk away from today with a little bit more confidence in themselves, so they're able to show that they aren't that easy target that assailants are looking for."
Each of the four sessions offered began with a SHARP representative reviewing fundamental knowledge about the differences between harassment and assault, and finally, moving onto more complex scenarios and discussing red flags to watch out for. Coach Brickey then took over the session, explaining his background as a retired police officer and extensive training, which has earned him five black belts.
Soldiers receiving instruction picked up various pads for their hands and chest and began working through Coach Brickey's program, which systematically built upon previous moves and took a no-nonsense approach to dealing with a would-be attacker. By the session's conclusion, Soldiers throughout the room had worked up a considerable sweat and departed feeling more prepared to face a world of complex dangers.
"As a female, these skills are going to benefit me in everyday life," said Spc. Crystal Knox, an AH-64 attack helicopter repairer with B Troop, 6-6 CAV. "Especially being a single mom, you never know if there's going to be an intruder in the house, or you're walking down a dark street and get attacked. Now we know there are simple things we can do to protect and defend yourself."
Coach Brickey concluded each class by offering free follow-on training for any Soldiers that were interested.
"As former law enforcement, my background definitely impacts how I look at things," said Brickey. "Having this knowledge helps your confidence and helps a lot of things. You don't have to get into a fight, you can get away from it through de-escalation. Most all, you're no longer afraid, and I think that goes a long way."