Story and photos by Rick Emert
Some spouses of deployed Soldiers will have one less thing to worry about while their Soldiers are deployed – their own personal safety.
About 50 people – Family members and civilian employees – participated in two sessions of Fight Back 101, a personal safety class offered at the Family Readiness Center Saturday.
The classes were led by instructors from Defense Awareness Response Training, a nonprofit corporation out of Boulder, Colo.
Students learned how to avoid dangerous situations, prevent attacks and escape attacks.
The class was requested by Family members in a survey conducted by the Family Readiness Council, said Kim Milano, Family Readiness Council coordinator.
“They’re geared toward spouses of deployed Soldiers, but any Family members (can take them),” Milano said. “We’re offering them to sort of fill a need that’s not addressed at other places on post.”
Lead Instructor John Patterson explained that size doesn’t matter in overcoming an attacker. He taught self defense techniques based on motions people make every day, such as pushing a door closed, swatting a fly or closing an oven door.
“Opening doors, we use that as a strike. Starting a lawn mower can be used as an elbow strike,” he said. “We try to relate it to stuff they are doing every day, because we know we don’t have all this time to really develop skills. We don’t have time to develop karate skills. These are things they’ve already done.”
At the end of the training, each of the attendees had to practice escaping three surprise attacks.
“The philosophy behind that is if we can surprise them in here and they experience that fear and emotion during that surprise … then they can perform what we taught them,” Patterson said. “If they can experience that feeling of fear here, in a safe environment, then it will be a little bit easier if they ever have to use this training outside of the class.”
The surprise attacks demonstrated that the Family members had retained a lot of what they learned.
Sherry Ball, Family member, said when the surprise attacks occurred she “didn’t have to think about it. It came right back to me. It did a lot for my confidence knowing that someone can come out and attack you from anywhere, and you can be able to get away without much effort.”
Patterson said that confidence is precisely what he hoped the participants got out of the class.
“We know in a three-hour class they are not going to remember some of the specific things that we teach them. They may pull them out of their hat; they may remember them. But, if they can realize that when they have confidence and power – if you fight, if you scream, if you give it all you’ve got – your chances dramatically improve of escaping without any injuries. We really want them to have that confidence.”