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Women kick defense skills into high gear

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and along with it came a high-energy, fast-paced class to help kick start women's defense skills.

Rape Aggression Defense, a class designed to teach women tips and tricks for avoiding or escaping sexual assault scenarios, was offered to women throughout the Malmstrom Air Force Base and Great Falls communities April 6.

Ten women showed up to class bearing smiles and a desire to protect themselves.

"I took this class so I could become more aware of my surroundings and the tactics and techniques to [use] if I was attacked," said Senior Airman Mary Tarasiewicz, 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron unit fitness program monitor. "Before I came, I didn't really know what to expect ... I'd recommend it to other people who may not be able to defend themselves."

During the all-day class, women learned different self defense tactics, including defensive postures, attacking maneuvers and escape techniques. The lessons taught during the class showed women how to react in different situations.

Primary instructor, Capt. Michael Cheatham, 741st MSFS operations officer; and his class assistant, 1st Lt. Joel Lobisser, 741st MSFS officer in charge of security escort teams, demonstrated each move with emphasis on staying calm and how to keep the upper hand against the attacker.

"The whole point of the class is to develop and enhance the options of self defense so that they may be viable considerations for the woman who is attacked," Cheatham said. "So basically, what we want to do is teach women that they are self-reliant, self-dependant and they can prevent abduction."

"I think the importance of this class is pretty simple - self defense," Lobisser said. "To teach women how to get away if ever needed or how to react in certain situations - it could be everyday situations where they just feel uncomfortable. I think self defense is good for anyone for that matter."

Cheatham has been teaching as a RAD-certified instructor since 2008, bringing the program to Malmstrom when he arrived more than a year ago. In contrary, Lobisser has only been an assistant one time, making him a newer member to the program.

"This [was] my first class and I think it went great," Lobisser said. "It was a very lighthearted class with maximum participation. I'd love to keep doing this as long as I'm here and hopefully get certified."

Cheatham aims to teach at least four classes each year - one per quarter. Also, he tries to set up two classes during the months of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to promote their messages.