Rape Aggression Defense (RAD)
Why take a self-defense class?
There are many reasons to take self-defense classes. The most obvious is to learn skills to protect yourself from those who want to cause you physical harm. But learning to fight back is often a difficult and uncomfortable subject for many women to think about. It doesn't have to be that way and self-defense training can provide many more benefits beyond the actual techniques learned. It can build confidence, independence, improve body image and be very empowering.
What to look for in a self-defense class:
- Is at least one instructor a woman? A course instructed by males only can send a message to some women that only men are truly capable of defending against male violence. If the instructor is male and has a macho attitude, this gives the wrong message to women: that only men are capable of defending themselves against male violence.
- If there is an instructor pair, how do the two relate to one another? Are they equal partners, or does one dominate? A coed pair of instructors can be wonderful models of how men and women can relate to one another, but if that relationship is imbalanced toward the man, beware of the message he is conveying.
- How does the instructor relate to the students? Does the instructor treat students with respect and model appropriate behavior?
- Is the class overly large with a high teacher/student ratio? This may mean that each student does not receive adequate attention and can be a safety hazard as well.
- Is the instructor trained in sexual assault crisis intervention? All self defense classes have survivors in them. If the instructor is unaware of the local sexual assault center, or has no relationship with it, question the instructor's motives in teaching women self defense.
- Is the philosophy of the course to empower women and to teach techniques that can be used by any woman, regardless of physical ability? Is there a sense of fun in the class? There's no need for fancy or advanced martial arts techniques for self defense.
- Is there talking time? Can students ask questions and discuss their concerns in a safe environment?
Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Self-Defense Classes for Women
There are a variety of kinds of self-defense courses offered in the community. At UVA the RAD course is offered through the Women's Center and the UVA Police Department. The National RAD Program is an empowerment-based course, designed to counter the stereotype that women are defenseless against an attacker. This course teaches women awareness of their physical strengths and abilities to use their bodies as personal weapons. RAD emphasizes a variety of options in practical risk-reduction and basic self-defense, recognizing that every situation is different and that no one choice is right for all women. Participants learn a variety of options in self-defense, including verbal assertiveness, strikes, kicks, releases out of choke holds, and defending oneself from the ground. Much of the class is spent practicing these moves full strength on kick bags and pads, with the goal of making self-defense instinctual. There is also the option of realistic simulation, which entails a fully padded instructor reenacting attacks so students can apply moves learned to a live person.