Self-defense training not shy about using effective moves
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 07, 2013 | 1158 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TINA RIDGEWAY holds Kristine Pecca in a straight-arm chokehold while officer Brandy Brown watches to make sure Pecca properly uses the butterfly technique to break free. Despite the serious reasons behind self-defense training, none of the three could hold back their smiles. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
view slideshow (2 images)
After three classes of the Rape Aggression Defense course offered through the Cleveland Police Department and taught by officer Jennifer McKee, I am feeling more comfortable in my skin.

A sense of strength accompanies learning your body is capable of self-defense.

In Wednesday night’s session, we learned how to escape front and back bear hugs, choke holds and straight arm chokes. We also learned how to use the butterfly technique to escape wrist grabs.

Instead of practicing on pads, we paired up with each other.

Can you imagine how awkward this would have been the first night?

Thankfully, a night of joking and watching each other pulverize RAD pads had torn down some barriers.

This is good, as some of the practice moves had us either face-to-face or front-to-back. We used head butts, shin scrapes, hammer punches to the groin, knee strikes to the groin, elbow jabs, foot stomps and heel strikes to the groin to escape bear hugs from behind.

There is one other move we were taught which is not listed above.

Men, you may want to look away for this next part.

Remember, you were warned.

The move is succinctly called: seize the testicles. McKee said her last class dubbed the move “Carpe the Testicles.” Basically, you grab ahold and yank.

If your male assailant does not writhe in pain, ladies, you need to start praying. There is only so much self-defense you can do against a robot.

As much as I would love to walk you through the moves we learned, I will refrain for two reasons. First, I cannot explain it nearly as well as McKee, and as of Wednesday night, officer Brandy Brown. Second, if you try these moves without proper training they will either not work or you may seriously injure someone.

No, no — I cannot live with the responsibility.

Instead, I will go over the elbow jab and how to fight back during a chokehold.

- The elbow jab requires a different stance than the defensive one we learned Tuesday night. Your feet are level instead of being split between front and back. Your weight is still equally distributed between the two.

There are two elbow jabs: a low and a high jab.

The low jab gains its power from extending either arm out, level with mid-abdomen, and pulling back hard while twisting your body into the motion. Your hand should extend palm down. As you pull back, your palm turns over to face up while your hand moves into a fist with your thumb across your fingers.

The high jab gains power from either arm extended out at shoulder level. Draw your arm back while twisting your body into the hit for maximum power against your assailant. Your palm remains face down throughout the move.

Both of these jabs can be used in addition to other distractions like a heel to the groin or a shin scrape.

- The only thing I will mention about a chokehold is how to lower your risk of choking while trying to break free.

If being choked from behind, attempt to insert your chin between your neck and your assailant’s arm. This allows for some breathing room, which would give your more time to fight for escape.

Do not attempt to bite the skin in front of your mouth. This gives your attacker a chance to crush his (or her) arm into your mouth, effectively cutting off an airway and minimizing any extra space.

These were only two of the many moves I have learned in the program, and just those two are so much more than I knew before.

As the only girl in my immediate family, I grew up roughhousing with my brothers. I have also been active in a variety of sports since high school, including playing rugby in college. To say I know of my more aggressive side is a bit of an understatement.

Still, I’ve never known what I would do if someone did attack me. Even here in little ole Cleveland, Tenn.

(Sidenote: I’m not sure if you have noticed, but Cleveland is growing up really fast.)

All I am saying is it is good for men, women, youth and children to know how to protect themselves. There will always be someone stronger. Self-defense moves will not make you a martial arts sensei, but it might provide a means of escape.

After three nights of self-defense training I feel stronger. The sweat didn’t pour and my muscles are not sore from overexertion. In fact, it has been frigid in the gym and the basic stretches have been more painful than the self-defense techniques.

I feel stronger because I have been given options. I have been shown ways I can use my body as a weapon to get out of a tight spot.

Self-defense is not meant to be used as an offensive fighting technique to win a long-term fight. The moves provide either a quick distraction or pain so the victim can make an escape. Many of them also work best under the principle of surprise. (Those of you trying these moves at home may have already discovered this).

Finally, these moves work best when learned from a trained professional.

Tonight, all 10 of us ladies, both young and old, will be using our newfound skills against two well-padded CPD sargeants. We will be given three scenarios. Our mission is to escape as quickly and effectively as possible.

Don’t worry, I will be sure to fill you in on either the successes — or failures — of ... RAD Fight Night Spring 2013.