R.A.D. Self-Defense Classes Arm Females With Techniques and Confidence
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Navigating the world is different for females when it comes to safety and security. They learn at a young age to be cognizant of
surroundings, travel in pairs or groups, and be ready to defend themselves should the worst occur. Thankfully, programs exist to help, such as the R.A.D. course (which stands for Rape Aggression Defense). R.A.D. Systems, the largest network of its kind, has instructed more than 900,000 women across the country, teaching them basic physical defense moves and strategies.
The Plainfield Police Department (PPD) offers this course periodically throughout the year. It’s free to the public for females 12 and older.
“In the past we’ve had females as young as 12 and as old as their 70s take the class,” says Detective Taylor Wilson with the PPD investigations division. “It attracts a wide variety of people.”
The 12-hour course is spread out over a four-day period, with each class lasting three hours.
“I’ve tried to do three days in the same week and it’s exhausting, so now we do two classes one week and two classes the next,” says Wilson, a relatively small female. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’s incapable of protecting herself in the event of an attack.
“I think it’s important that females are aware of their own power,” Wilson says. “Time and again, females are told they are the weaker sex, that they are not strong enough and that they can’t do what guys can do. I don’t believe that. Obviously there are certain things you may need help with depending on your body, but the goal is to build that confidence to get females to the point where they feel they have the ability to defend themselves.”
The R.A.D. self-defense program, supported by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, National Academy of Defense Education, and National Self-Defense Institute, imparts basic self-defense moves including strikes, kicks and other techniques to help one get away from an attacker. First the moves are demonstrated and then students have a chance to practice them on mats. On day four of the class, students are presented with a practical, hands-on scenario in which they utilize the maneuvers they have learned on a male instructor in a padded body suit.
In addition to techniques and maneuvers, the instructor goes over general safety tips, such as being sure to pay attention when walking to your vehicle rather than looking down at your phone or daydreaming. The instructor also goes over ways to make your home safer or less likely to be invaded.
For females who exercise outdoors, Wilson recommends that they only put in one earbud to better monitor surroundings. Wilson suggests that women carry pepper spray or a Birdie alarm, which can be attached to a keychain or hooked onto clothing. Both are lightweight and easy to hold. Pepper spray burns the eyes, and the Birdie creates a loud and obnoxious sound when pulled.
“If you get it close enough, it could burst an eardrum,” Wilson says. “That’s a huge deterrent because now the attacker is in pain.”
After taking the course, Wilson finds that women feel more empowered and less frightened. She enjoys watching the transformation in their confidence and self-esteem over the course of just two weeks.
“On day one, everyone is quiet and no one wants to participate, but by the end of the training they feel more self-assured and confident in their abilities,” Wilson says. “This is especially true on the last day when the students practice using their techniques on the male instructor. Suddenly they realize, ‘Wow! I can do this if this were to happen to me.’ This class gives them confidence that they can do something to protect themselves rather than relying on someone else to do so.”
“Unfortunately, the reality is that you can do everything right and something bad can still happen,” says Kyle Prewitt, Plainfield’s chief of police. “The R.A.D. course is about personal protection and getting comfortable with interpersonal violence so that in the event of an attack, you are not afraid to fight back.”
To learn more about R.A.D., visit rad-systems.com.