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Course offers self-defense training

MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY, N.D. -- Airman 1st Class Irene Maxwell is "attacked" by Joshua Kiser during training here Sept. 30.  The class featured self-defense techniques taught specifically for women so they can be comfortable in any potentially hostile situation.  Airman Maxwell is assigned to the 5th Munitions Squadron at nearby Minot Air Force Base.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jocelyn Rich)

MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY, N.D. -- Airman 1st Class Irene Maxwell is "attacked" by Joshua Kiser during training here Sept. 30. The class featured self-defense techniques taught specifically for women so they can be comfortable in any potentially hostile situation. Airman Maxwell is assigned to the 5th Munitions Squadron at nearby Minot Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jocelyn Rich)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFPN) -- Airman Smith has no worries as she dances the night away at a party at her friend’s house. Once the night is over, she leaves the house and walks to her car when suddenly, out of the shadows, someone grabs her from behind and tries to drag her away.

What the attacker does not know is that he picked the wrong woman.

Why? Because Airman Smith participated in a self-defense course taught here Sept. 27 to 30.

The training featured four days of intense self-defense techniques taught specifically for women so they can be comfortable in any potentially hostile situation, said Terry and Sheila Kiser, class instructors.

“The main goal is to feel confident that when you’re out, you can take care of yourself,” Mr. Kiser said. “(Our class) gives women a chance to know they can fight back instead of just submitting. Maybe instead of a woman being a victim, she’ll be a survivor.”

Chief Master Sgt. Kathy Sconyers, 5th Bomb Wing command chief, said the class was offered as another piece in the Air Force’s continuous fight against sexual assault.

“As we hear more and more about sexual assault and how many women have been assaulted, those figures are pretty staggering,” the chief said. “I think it’s very important for our dorm residents to feel safe not only in the dorm but in their car, at an (automated teller machine or) on a street, and this is just one more tool senior (leaders) can offer.”

The first three class days were filled with physical defense moves like palm strikes, knee and leg kicks and blocking techniques. Participants also learned how to roll out from under an attacker and how to release themselves from a choke hold.

On the fourth day, the class went to a nearby university’s wrestling room and put what they learned into practice. Each woman in the class was “attacked” by one of the Kisers’ sons. Day and night situations were simulated, including getting money out of an ATM, walking down a street alone and being in bed asleep.

Education is just as important as the physical aspect of a fight, Mr. Kiser said.

“One of the things I teach is the best fight is no fight,” he said. “If you can see the warning signs and learn to avoid those situations,” people may avoid having to fight.

As a woman, Mrs. Kiser said she can sometimes help deal with more delicate situations that may come up. The instructors said they hope that with Mrs. Kiser on board, a woman who was attacked might feel more comfortable coming to her about it.

Airman 1st Class Sharon Groh, of the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, said one of the most important things she learned from the class was the definition of sexual assault.

“Most people don’t report rape or sexual harassment because they are unsure if it actually happened,” she said. “Terry made it quite clear that any unwelcome touch of any sort is considered to be (sexual assault). He also made it very clear that when rape occurs, you are the victim, and it is a crime. Therefore, you should not be afraid to report it.”

Both instructors agreed there was a change in some of the women who took the recent class.

“We can see the ones we’ll have to work with a little bit more to draw that more aggressive attitude out,” Mrs. Kiser said. “We concentrated on them, and they really got aggressive; in fact, one we had to pull off the guy twice.”

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