by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — There are many ways to stop an attacker. You can even stop one before you are ever approached just by being confident and aware.
Karl Herndon, personal safety instructor with Full Power, a Colorado Springs non-profit agency that teaches self-defense classes, works with Full Power director Sam Rush-Walton to teach personal safety. The pair was on Peterson Air Force Base Oct. 29, to help Airmen and their families realize their full power. Full Power training was sponsored by Peterson’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
“Bandits are looking for someone who is not paying attention,” said Mr. Herndon. who is also an El Paso County Sheriff’s Office deputy with six years experience in the sex crimes unit. “What we find is that being aware is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe.”
Jeanine Arnold, Peterson’s SARC, said that self defense and personal safety training are highly requested. This is the fourth year Full Power has worked with Peterson’s Airmen and their families. The two-hour personal safety program teaches techniques that a person can easily recall. It’s not something a person necessarily has to practice daily, Ms. Arnold said. Most important, the instructors focus on situational awareness.
“I find them practical,” Ms. Arnold said. “What I like is that they teach stuff that you can remember, like an elbow to the ribs.”
This year, the Air Force celebrates the Year of the Air Force Family. Gen. Norton Schwartz, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, has made family focus a top priority. The campaign includes highlighting programs in four major areas, including health and wellness; family housing; family support; and education, development and employment. Health and wellness includes personal safety, Ms. Arnold said.
“I think, mostly, the people who think about personal safety are women,” Ms. Arnold said. “Many men don’t think they are threatened. But, in our day and age, things can happen — personal safety applies to the whole family.”
Master Sgt. Cheryl Sizer, U.S. Air Force Academy Band, attended the Full Power class with her two boys, Joshua, 14, and Christian, 12. Recent incidents of sexual assaults — one at her sons’ school — had them all worried.
“My greatest fear is that they would not be empowered,” she said.
After the training, both boys said they would use some of the techniques if they felt they were in danger.
“I’d try to ignore the person, but if they approached me, I’d take action,” said Joshua Sizer.
Ms. Rush-Walton has been a personal safety trainer for 15 years. She teaches techniques that are least harmful to the victim and most harmful to the attacker. She said a person has got to trust their instincts.
“Women override their intuition,” she said. “Pretending he’s not there, doesn’t mean he’s not there.”
Ms. Rush-Walton’s techniques were designed by a team of police officers, counselors and martial artists. The idea is to stay centered if someone approaches. If you have a bad feeling, put your strong leg back and your hands up. Yell out: “Stop right there.” Yell out, “Leave right now.” If the attacker comes closer, fold your thumb under your fingers and form your hand into a little “chicken beak.” With both hands poke him in the eyes. Next take the butt of your hand and shove it up toward the nose and neck area. Finally, give a swift kick with the flat top of your foot to his groin. All the while, yelling “No” loudly. Typically, attackers want privacy, so the loud yelling can send them running, Ms. Rush-Walton said.
“It’s not the size of the woman in the fight,” she said. “It’s the size of the fight in the woman.”