CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - A shiver runs up your spine. That little voice deep inside your subconscious says to be careful, be cautious, be aware.

You instinctively look around for what may be causing your senses to react and see a large figure loping toward you with malicious intentions. You automatically react by establishing a solid base with which to fight back as the human figure is already too close for you to run away. The training and repetition of techniques learned in a self defense class unconsciously kick in and you are able to successfully fight off a would-be attacker and run for safety and assistance.

The training techniques that coursed through the potential victim’s veins were learned in a women’s self defense class taught on Camp Bondsteel April 12 and 14 by members of Task Force Falcon, Combat Arms Training Company. The highly skilled instructors hold qualifications as military combative instructors as well as a wealth of civilian certifications for martial arts, self defense techniques, and numerous other law enforcement and personal protection training. Females wishing to build a skill set to ward of a potential attacker took the time to attend the training.

During the self defense class instruction, Staff Sgt. Kevin Johnson, CAT-C instructor, began by discussing methods to prevent such attacks by making oneself a so called “hard target.” This means walking the streets and alleys of Camp Bondsteel in groups, trekking with an air of confidence, and being aware of the surroundings at all times. But when an attacker is totally bent on following through with an assault, students learned multiple techniques to employ in order to fight to get away.

Johnson mentioned that there are multiple methods of self defense and students need to find techniques that work for them. He said the techniques he teaches are based on Army training mixed in with training received from numerous civilian sources.

“My way is not the only way; it’s just another way,” said Johnson. “You need to learn techniques that you can put into practice should anything bad happen to you.”

He added the importance of learning multiple techniques so that women have an arsenal of options with which to fall back on. Johnson said that every person is different and will react differently, but to find and utilize the skills that work best for each individual. He also said that practice is the key to success.

“The more you practice the basic skills taught in this class, the more confident you should feel. You have to be able to simply react in a situation instead of stopping to think about what you should do,” Johnson said.

According to the “Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military” for fiscal year 2010, there were a total of 3,158 reports of sexual assault involving service members. Employing basic preventive measures and being prepared if an attack should occur are two ways that could bring those numbers down.

The self defense class is designed to do exactly that; keep the numbers of sexual assault on Camp Bondsteel non-existent. Students that attended the class were made aware of prevention tactics and learned the moves taught during the class can work against an assailant.

“There are quite a few new techniques that I had never seen before and some useful awareness tips,” said Sgt. Patricia Salazar, 75th Combat Support Hospital ground ambulance non-commissioned officer in charge. “It was helpful that the male instructors interacted with us. That usually doesn’t happen. But you could get that strength and positioning where you could actually see how the moves really do work. It’s very helpful. I was very surprised!”
Salazar also recommended this class to all females stationed here.

“I think once they came here they’d see it’s not wrestling or ground fighting techniques. I think they would be somewhat surprised,” said Salazar.