U.S. advisors teach self defense to Afghan Air Force women

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Advisors from the 439th and 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadrons recently taught four Afghan Air Force female personnel about the importance of using self-defense to escape a violent situation.

The training prepared the students physically and mentally for what they could experience if placed in a dangerous scenario.

The students learned that true self defense is more than just personal protection and learning a set of techniques to escape from an attacker, training officials said. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kenneth Tatrai, a 738th AEAS Pohantoon-e-Hawayee lead security forces advisor and self-defense instructor, discussed the potential benefits that would come from learning self-defense.

"I think that it's important for everyone to know how and when to defend themselves and to have the confidence to do so," Tatrai said. "Even though we are in a more civil world, there are people who look for weaker men and women, so it's extremely important to have the tools for self-defense and to know when to use them."

The course consisted of the basic principles of personal security and self-defense in order to help the students mitigate risk in their lives whenever possible.

Simulated yells and actual laughter filled the training room as the students used strike pads to demonstrate how they would react. The training included strikes, break holds and demonstrations of sensitive areas of the body at which to aim when engaged with an attacker.

Afghan Air Force Lt. Arezoo Azizi said she appreciated the opportunity to attend the class and enjoyed working with the mentors in a relaxed and fun environment.

"All the moves we learned during the class were my favorite," Azizi said. "Self-defense is very good for all women to learn, especially the women in Afghanistan, and I appreciate the mentors for offering us something we don't normally have."

Tatrai said that he was very impressed with the students and that, by using their new found skills, the Afghan women will be better prepared to respond to an aggressive assailant.

"It was a good class and we had great students," Tatrai said. "I definitely feel that they learned a lot today and are better prepared to defend themselves if the situation presents itself."

Among the participating advisors, one particularly shared the women's concerns about size and capability against someone twice their size. Capt. Vanessa Vanden Bout, a 439th AEAS force support officer and gender integration point of contact for the Afghan Air Force, works closely with the women. Vanden Bout said that she was excited to give back to the students.

"The ladies expressed interest in learning new skills, and this is one that I thought was important for them to have in their tool kit," Vanden Bout said. "It increases their self-confidence and also increases the likelihood that they can escape safely from a dangerous situation."

Vanden Bout, who organized the training, stepped up and demonstrated exactly how the training would work in the real world if attacked by taking down her large simulated attacker.

"Many women aren't as strong as men, making it easier for them to be subdued and potentially injured," Vanden Bout said. "Our Afghan ladies are smaller in stature and are fairly slender so we wanted to teach them that you don't have to be the biggest or the strongest to fight back and protect yourself."

Afghan Air Force Lt. Nafisa Adeb said the class alleviated some of her fear of being in an assault situation.

"I feel more confident in what I learned and in myself," Adeb said. "Today has given me the confidence to know that I can really do this if I had to. I know I'll remember today and what I learned when I need it."