Fighting back

  • Published
  • By Ilka Cole
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

The Women’s Equality Day committee hosted two women’s self-defense events at the fitness lab here Aug. 16 and 17.


The events were held to celebrate the 97th anniversary of Aug. 26, 1920, the date women were granted the right to vote, known as women’s suffrage.


Self-defense classes raise awareness about tactics women can use to defend themselves and help build their confidence to protect themselves against crime, said Niyoka Williamson, WED project officer with the Defense Logistics Agency.


The first day of activities covered social media security and crime prevention tips from Okaloosa County Sheriff Department Crime Prevention Manager, Ashley Bailey. Bailey also discussed the importance of being assertive.


“It’s important to empower ourselves. Women don’t want to appear rude.” said Bailey. “We need to tie into our situational awareness and our gift of fear. If a situation feels sketchy and it involves your personal safety, be abrupt.”


Bailey said victims of violent crimes second-guessed themselves and ignored their instincts when they sensed something wasn’t right according to Bailey’s studies of therapist, Gavin de Becker. 


During the last hour of class, participants paired up for hands-on jab and poke techniques to use body parts as a weapons to deter an attacker. Participants also learned how to use their authoritative voice, commands and hand signals to create a natural barrier as an additional safety measure.


“I have a heightened awareness of the self-defense techniques available,” said 1st Lt. Kyndreshia Stroman, 36th Electronic Warfare Squadron. “As women we may not have the muscular strength an attacker might have. This class taught me we have weapons in our tool box. We’re not helpless.”


The second class taught by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Black, a self-defense trainer with the 33rd Fighter Wing, provided participants an additional opportunity to learn and practice more techniques to leverage body mechanics to maximize their strengths and included wrist and choke escapes.


“This class was excellent. Women today are on their own more and more,” said Peggy Shepherd, 96 Test Wing. “I now know even in my 50’s I can do this. Now I feel comfortable I can still take care of myself.”