August 7, 2003 — On Wednesday the University of Utah Police Department launched a six-week Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) course, part of a national program to teach and enhance self-defense options for women. The weekly, three-hour, women-only project will be held in the Huntsman Center lounge. The course advocates awareness, prevention, risk reduction, avoidance and then progresses onto the basics of hands-on defense training. Students participate in simulated attacks, which are videotaped and then reviewed to identify students’ strengths and vulnerabilities. (Female members of the media interested in covering the class should call 801-585-1162.)
“The class is geared to the campus community, but we’re certainly not going to turn anyone away,” notes University of Utah Police Sgt. Lynn Rohland, who piloted the project for her department last year. Currently, the University’s police department is the only law enforcement agency in the Salt Lake Valley using the course.
“This class is designed for any woman 12 years of age or older, regardless of their physical fitness ability-that’s because an attacker can target any women, regardless of age or physical fitness ability,” explains Rohland. Young women between the ages of 12 and 15 are required to take the class with an adult woman guardian. Girls 16 and 17 years of age may take the course alone if parents sign a waiver.
R.A.D. is not a martial arts program, and only certified instructors teach the courses. Each student is provided with a workbook/reference manual. Graduates of the class can return to R.A.D. classes taught anywhere in the country for free lifetime review and practice sessions. Cost of the class is $25 per person for the six-week course.
“There are a couple of reasons we don’t teach young women under the age of 12. First, radKIDS, the children’s version of the R.A.D. program, already exists. In addition, we talk about specific aspects of attacks and safety. We think it’s appropriate to have the mom in the class with the girl.”
Becky Lloyd and her three daughters, ranging in age from 12 to 16, found the summer University R.A.D. course extremely valuable. Lloyd explains that her motivation for taking the class was that, “At some point most women are going to run into an aggressor of some sort, and aggressors don’t comply when you politely ask them to back off. Learning how to verbally respond to an aggressor, and then being able to reinforce that verbal response with some active physical skills (whether the situation is life-threatening or if you’re being harassed by a pest), clearly tells the aggressor you mean ‘No!’ Every female should have this kind of training. It was exactly the in-depth, physical contact self-defense class we were looking for.” All three Lloyd girls are using the R.A.D. course as a focus project for 4-H this year and will submit entries into the county fair next week.
Other than the volunteer police department instructors, no men are allowed in the class to participate or observe. “We don’t want potential attackers in the class watching what we’re teaching the women. We have also found that women are more comfortable working with each other, especially considering it is a class with close body contact,” Rohland notes.
The R.A.D. course covers basic safety, self-defense skills and explores what Rohland calls a “defensive mindset.” Self-defense techniques are reviewed. “We want these moves to feel natural; something they have good muscle memory for. These aren’t kung fu moves, but techniques that are easy for any woman with physical fitness ability. That’s why the class is so beneficial-it’s basic,” Rohland says.
In the fifth class students draw upon what they have learned in previous classes when they go through three simulated attacks, each increasing in intensity. The students wear protective gear-helmets, punching gloves and elbow and kneepads, while the instructors, who act as attackers, are in full body suits.
“We let the students defend themselves and go all out against the attackers. We videotape these simulations and then review them to see how they respond under stress and pressure. It’s amazing to see how much they actually learn, to see their confidence build and to put them through the simulation and watch them go the rounds,” Rohland notes.
The next series of R.A.D. classes will begin on Oct. 1st and run through Nov. 5th. A schedule of 2004 courses will be available in November. For more information on R.A.D., or to register for the program, contact Lynn Rohland at 801-585-1162 or Arb Nordgran at 801-585-1166.