Several of my RAD peers were already inside, standing against the wall. None of us knew what to expect.
Actually, one of us did know what to expect, but she was a new face. She said she attended one of the RAD courses earlier this year and was returning for Fight Night.
Can you imagine? Returning for Fight Night! This meant one of two things: Either the scenarios would not be as difficult as we thought or she was RoboCop’s daughter. The latter seemed more likely.
Cleveland Police Department officers Jennifer McKee and Brandy Brown walked us through our warmup stretches.
Side note: this portion of the sessions always reminded me I need to take up yoga or Pilates. The three giggling middle school girls basically placing their feet behind their heads, as I struggled to touch my toes, really hit the point home.
After stretches we went through a laundry list of moves: blocks, parries, striking motions, straight kicks, snap kicks, sweep kicks, heel stomps, calf scrapes, head butts and elbow jabs. All the while yelling “No!” with each move.
McKee and Brown also taught us what to do in case we are knocked to the ground.
n If you are on the ground and someone is coming at you, either flip your weight to your right or left side. Prop yourself up on your forearm and pull your bottom leg in to give you support.
n Next, use your other arm to block your upper body. Your arm will be in an L-shape with your forearm bone faced out.
Your other leg (not the one on the ground) will be raised to keep your attacker at bay. As he, or she, comes at you, repeatedly kick them on and around their knee. The bottom of your foot should make contact with their body.
- Your attacker will probably circle you. Keep your forearm anchored to the ground as you rotate your body in a circle by moving your bottom leg along the ground. Remember to keep your arm and your leg up and between you and your attacker. Continue kicking throughout the encounter.
- If your attacker reverses direction in trying to circle around you, flip to the corresponding side. Keep the same form and continue kicking. (This move is called for because it is difficult to move backward while on the ground.)
- Finally, when you get up, do not lurch forward. Instead place your top foot on the ground and retreat backward.
As with all the moves we learned before, McKee watched closely to make sure we properly executed the motions.
Groundwork only lasts so long. Before we knew it, the scenarios were upon us. Two police sargeants covered in fighting pads entered the gym.
And cue steroid-hyped butterflies.
This was it. This was what we had been training for the previous two nights. We had a whole slew of new tools. Now it was time to hammer home the last hit of confidence before we left the program.
I mean, being “attacked” by two police officers in a secure environment with two additional police officers watching wasn’t scary, right?
The woman from a previous class went first. She yelled loudly at the Michelin Man to get back before launching into a frenzy of punches and kicks.
Hold the phone.
Was I supposed to move like that?
Was I supposed to yell those things?
I sure hope the answer was no, because I did neither.
In fact, I kind of blanked. Speaking-wise, at least.
I walked to the front and McKee explained the scenario. I nodded, took a deep breath and stepped forward. The sargeant approached and I settled into the defensive stance waiting for him to attack.
Then, I had an epiphany. There was no way my punch to the chest would hurt a man of his size in real life. It just would not. My younger brother is a mastiff in human form; punches to the chest do not stop him. My older brother is unaffected by those hits, as well.
Although, there is one move which never fails.
And just like that, ladies and gentlemen, I broke my unspoken rule of no groin shots.
With about two or more feet between the sargeant and me, I lifted my front leg, snapped a kick and ran away.
It felt great.
Believe it or not, I managed to contain my giggles. Although, I may or may not have skipped to the finish line.
Two more scenarios followed the first, increasing in difficulty and fun. I used a foot stomp, elbow jab, a snap kick and a very purposeful knee strike to the groin. I also bypassed “No” and went straight for “Get off me” in the second scenario.
If you are waiting for me to explain the three scenarios, it will not happen. They are part of the nerve-wracking mystery of Fight Night.
All 10 of us left the gym filled with adrenaline and smiling. Promises of coming to the next Fight Night were made as we filed out the door. We had just done something most of our peers never had, and it felt good.
For those of you whose interest has been piqued, the dates for the next session are April 1, 2, 8 and 9. Sign up by contacting CPD officer Jennifer McKee by phone 476-1121, ext. 2274, or email, email@example.com.
Participants who complete the four-night, three-hour sessions will be able to attend additional RAD classes for free across the country.
RAD is open to women of all ages. Females younger than 18 need parental consent. The class I was a part of had students from middle school into their 60s. It was a great time to meet people from across the county and city while learning how to defend myself.
I have given you a brief overview of the four classes through these articles, but much was left out. A majority of the moves were not explained and I never once touched on the justification for defense. These are important to know.
Final thanks go out to McKee, Brown, the two brave sargeants and my peers who made the classes so enjoyable.
A prayer also goes out to the sargeant who took five hammer fists to the groin in under 10 seconds. The 60s sure haven’t slowed her down, eh Sarge?