Claremore Daily Progress

April 7, 2007

RAD program teaches women practical self-defense tactics

Tom Fink

Twenty years ago, being “rad” meant being cool.

Today, “RAD” means being able to protect yourself against an attacker if you’re a woman.

The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) system is a program of realistic, self-defense tactics and techniques taught to women in a classroom setting by certified instructors from the community.

Enter Claremore Police officer Robin Blair.

“We’ve been doing RAD programs through the police department for five years now, usually a few courses a year, sometimes more, depending on demand,” said Blair, certified RAD instructor. “Our next program will begin Monday (April 9) — we’ve still got a few spaces left, so if anyone wants to participate, they need to call and reserve a spot.”

During the program, Blair, with officers Danny Dobbins and Michael Shaver, will teach women no-nonsense, practical means of protecting themselves against an attacker.

“This isn’t a martial arts program or anything that’s too hard for the typical person to do,” said officer Dobbins. “The (RAD) program is designed for the average woman with no previous experience or background in physical skills training.”

Over the three nights of instruction, participants of all ages receive realistic self-defense lessons.

“I think we’ve had girls from the eighth grade all the way through a woman in her 70s go through the program,” Blair said, “and it’s not uncommon for mothers and daughters to go through the program together.”

During the final night, participants “graduate” after the completion of a final test that involves their usage of all defensive techniques learned during the course.

“In the last class, we have a simulation where the students dress out in protective gear — knee and elbow pads, head gear, etc. — and are attacked by two aggressors, in this case, officers Dobbins and Shaver, who are also dressed in protective gear,” Blair said. “There are several scenarios, but the objective is for the women to protect themselves with what they’ve learned and to basically walk from one end of a room to the other.”

Although Dobbins said some participants begin the program “meekly,” they gain the confidence and self-esteem that comes with the knowledge they can defend themselves.

“The aggressor exercise is definitely hard work for us,” Dobbins said. “Officer Shaver and I go out full force because that’s what a real attacker would do — and we want these ladies to be able to protect themselves, through kicking, hitting, and all the vocal techniques we teach them — it’s 100 percent from everyone.”

After the exercise, officer Blair said the class reviews the video tape of the drill, and participants are often surprised at their own reactions.

“Before we watch the tapes, the girls think they forgot to do this or that, but once they see themselves, the realize how much they picked up in the class,” she said. “Protecting themselves becomes something that they don’t think about so much as it becomes instinctual and that’s what can save their lives.”

“Within the course, we talk about the ‘victimization triangle’ where you have the victim, the suspect, and the opportunity,” Dobbins said. “If you’re able to take away any one of those things from the triangle, an attack can be prevented.”

“Safety and survival in today’s world requires a definite course of action,” Blair said. “Through RAD, we’re able to provide women those options by teaching them to take and active role in their own self-defense and psychological well-being.”

The Claremore Police’s RAD system program will meet 6-9 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at the Claremore Expo Center. Cost to participate is $10, which includes a reference manual. For more information about the RAD program or to participate, call 341-1212.