Women Learn FAST Self-Defense Techniques

By Janessa Maxilom
Alamogordo Daily News, N.M.

Right before a conflict a person’s adrenaline will kick in causing them to freeze, fight or run.

At a Fear Adrenaline Stress Training Self Defense class instructors teach women not to freeze up but to run or fight to protect themselves.

Members from the 49th Security Forces Squadron and the Alamogordo Police Department teamed up Wednesday to teach local ladies the basics of self-defense at the Sgt. Willie Estrada Memorial Civic Center.

“FAST teaches women the ABC’s of self-defense,” FAST Instructor Staff Sgt. Alaina Howard of the SFS said. “A stands for awareness. Women need to be aware of their surrounding.”

During the class Howard explained that being aware of ones environment helps a woman avoid dangerous situations.

She taught the participants that B stands for boundaries. She advised women that they set their own boundaries based on what they are comfortable with.

“You control your own personal space,” she told students.

Howard told women that they don’t have to put up with any unwanted contact with people they don’t feel like consorting with, even if it is at a social event.

She proceeded to teach women polite and discreet ways to back out of hugging people that they might otherwise feel obligated to hug in social situations.

The next course of action Howard taught women was how to handle a hostile encounter.

She said C stands for confrontation that a woman should know the basics incase they must defend themselves from any unwanted advances.

There was plenty of hands-on training for women who participated in the class as they interacted and roll played with airmen from the SFS.

The airmen pretended to be predatory-type men with unsavory intentions while women learned how to handle stressful situations with confidence.

The SFS airmen geared up by wearing padded suits and helmets so the ladies could learn how to impede an assault long enough to escape from a dangerous situation.

A spark of confidence could be seen on the faces of the women in the class as they learned techniques and hammered into their assailants with fists and knees.

“The beauty of this class is that it does allow us to use some of the training that we have already learned but this class presents some of those techniques in a different environment and situation,” Lt. Col. Tony Castillo the 49th SFS commander said.

“It teaches us how to apply it in a different way, and I think it’s unique in its own way because it actually catches reality and, as your stressed, it teaches you how to react to those stressors. FAST, to me, presents the perfect opportunity for law enforcement professionals, whether it’s military or civilian, to get ahead of the problem and enable others to defend themselves.”

Castillo added that he intends to conduct one class a month with the assistance of APD members.

“The way that we intend to do this is through partnership,” Castillo said. “We will be sharing our experience and skill sets. We’re also going to be sharing personnel. We will be partnered with APD whether it is on base or off base to conduct these courses.”

APD Chief of Police Robert Duncan said he has been working with the SFS for eight months to host classes and is hoping to get some of his staff trained as instructors too.

“We’re in the process now, and this is why we are here with the U.S. Air Force to eventually be trained to conduct these courses,” Duncan said.

Duncan said it was his goal to promote and enhance multi agency partnerships in the community.

“So when we join forces it is to build up a woman’s self confidence so she can protect herself from an assault,” Duncan said.

Both Duncan and Castillo said the courses would be taught for free to women in the community who are interested in learning.

“The airmen are volunteers,” Castillo said. “So there really is no cost associated with what we are doing.”

Duncan said being able to provide a free class for citizens was a great way for the men and women of the APD to help prevent potential crimes in the city.

“We are public servants and it’s an honor and privilege for the men and women of my department to be able to give back to their community and teach women how to defend themselves,” Duncan said.

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