And how did you spend your Tuesday night?
I spent mine kicking, punching and thoroughly beating thin air and pads.
For those of you who caught the article in Tuesday’s paper, you know I am taking the Rape Aggression Defense course offered through the Cleveland Police Department. The course is free for a limited time thanks to a Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction grant.
Officer Jennifer McKee takes on the challenge of teaching basic self-defense moves to women of all ages. On a side note, she also offers a program for children and youth, as well.
As the kids once said, it rocks my socks.
Tuesday night’s session began with the 10 of us, 11 counting McKee, standing in a circle. We were led through a variety of stretches. These targeted our shoulders, backs, legs and necks.
Next, we learned cautious contact, warning contact and the defensive stance.
- Cautious contact: feet shoulder-width apart, arms held loosely against the stomach.
- Warning contact: both hands go up with open palms in the easily recognizable stay-back position.
- Defensive stance: strong foot back, weak foot forward with weight evenly distributed between the two; strong hand fisted at the hip with your thumb laid across the front of your fingers and your weak hand at a 90 degree angle, shoulder level. Your weak hand should look like you are about to do a tomahawk chop.
Some of you may only think your hand is capable of a resounding slap. McKee said the hand as a weapon has several interchangeable motions.
- The fist: remember to place your thumb across your fingers. Thumbs sticking out or sticking up are just asking for a broken bone.
- The palm: thrusting upward with the base of your palm first. This motion is great for hitting your assailant’s chin and nose.
- The spear: hand flat and with fingers and thumb tight together. McKee said this move allows easy access to the eye and throat. Fists are too bulky to cause much damage in those areas.
- Extended knuckles: this move is slightly sturdier than the spear. Fold in your fingers so your knuckles form the front of your attack.
Am I the only one who thinks it is cool how hands can form so many different “weapons?”
Whenever McKee yelled “Defensive stance” and “Ready” we took a step back and yelled, “No!”
I say “yell” because eventually we got it down. Initially, we were all rather self-conscious. Who wouldn’t be? We were all outside of our comfort zones yelling into thin air.
Once McKee felt comfortable with our defensive stances she taught us two blocks: block and parry.
Both blocks started from the defensive stance and used our weak hand (the tomahawk hand).
A block is completed by shifting your elbow out and presenting the outside edge of the forearm to make contact with your assailant’s hit. A parry involves keeping your arm at shoulder level while moving your forearm across your face and turning your hand toward your face.
We were then asked to line up for a turn blocking the red RAD pads. You would think we were at the gallows. Everyone became tense.
Chatter stopped as we took our places.
McKee had two red pads strapped to her arms. She brought one toward us for several blocks before repeating the opposite motion for several parries.
Every time we made contact we were instructed to yell “No!” This gives more power to your hits.
It was great.
The first round heard everyone have at least one hit where their adamant “No!” sounded more like a question than a strong statement. McKee, for her part, maintained an encouraging smile until the confused “No” left our mouths. Those were met with pure amusement.
Would you believe punching a bunch of pads and feeling completely ridiculous made our group of 10 bond?
Well it did.
Soon we were laughing, joking and talking casually to people we had never met before Monday night. We were also gaining strength and even conviction in our kicks and hits.
No lies here, people.
Any stress I felt from the day was taken out on those pads. With a knee strike here, a straight kick to the groin there, a hammer fist to the forearm and a snap kick to finish it off, I started feeling good.
Actually, I felt better than good. I was literally bouncing on my toes and giggling after completing my hits. My fellow RAD peers have not begun to giggle just yet, but give them another day. While my peers were not giggling, they were gaining confidence in their hits and in themselves. McKee told us we would all be ready to conquer the world after Thursday’s “Fight Night.”
Speaking of McKee, she deserves a shout-out. She held the pads as we practiced blocking, striking motions, punches, hammer fist punches, hammer fists to the forearm, knee strikes, straight kicks to the groin, sweep kicks and snap kicks.
I would explain those to you, as well, but then this article would never end.
Plus, some things you just have to experience in person.