Women learn sex-assault defense at Yokota
April 25, 2009
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Anyone who has sat through a typical military sexual assault prevention class — and the accompanying PowerPoint slides — probably wouldn’t expect to walk into one and hear a woman shouting: "Bring it on, big boy!"
But this was no ordinary class.
Titled "My Strength is for Defending," the class provided the approximately 14 female attendees a chance to learn a little about how to defend themselves in a sexual assault.
"Today I wanted to teach self-defense from a jujitsu perspective," said Senior Airman Christopher Costa, the instructor.
Costa said he volunteered to teach the Sexual Assault Awareness Month event for one simple reason: Anyone can become a victim.
"I know friends that have been sexually assaulted," he said, adding that he wished he could have imparted some of his self-defense wisdom to them.
In most sexual assaults, Costa said, a woman will find herself on her back, pinned to the ground with her attacker trying to get between her legs. In jujitsu, that is known as the "guard" position, he said.
The guard position is one of the strongest in jujitsu. The person on her back is actually in the dominant position, as she is able to use her legs to control the movement of the person on top, he said.
The strength of jujitsu’s ground game is why Costa feels it is a vital tool in sexual-assault prevention.
Costa and his fellow instructors showed the students several methods of fighting off an attacker, including a simple arm bar to break the attacker’s arm, and what is known as a triangle choke, which cuts off blood flow to the brain, incapacitating the attacker.
"I want them to feel confident that if they get taken to the ground, they have the ability to overcome their opponent and be victorious," he said.
Despite the serious nature of what was being taught, the students also had fun during the 90-minute class, cracking jokes about the fate of their would-be attackers and providing encouragement to one another as they squared off against their instructors.
"I had a great time," said Capt. Jodi Kelsey, who said the class gave her a better understanding of some of the techniques and methods used in self-defense.
Eleven-year-old Claire Kincaid came away wanting to learn more.
Attending the class with her mother, Claire said she didn’t know what to expect from the training. In the end, she said, she learned something about herself. "I think my confidence has gone way up," she said, after squaring off against a male instructor at least twice her size.
Her mother, Kim, said she was thrilled to be able to take the class with her daughter.
"I think that self-defense is an important skill to have in this day and age," she said.