WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Team Whiteman practiced takedowns and submission holds during two women’s self-defense classes last month at Whiteman Air Force Base. The classes were part of a month long celebration for Women’s History Month.
Staff Sgt. Katie South, a 509th Security Forces Squadron evaluator, organized the classes.
“It’s important to celebrate and recognize all the accomplishments of women, especially in the military,” South said, “to celebrate how far women have progressed to this point in the military and where they could potentially go in the future.”
South worked with Billy Matheny, 509th SFS training instructor, to teach the class while she handled the logistics. Matheny has worked in both military and civilian law enforcement where he learned a variety of self-defense techniques that he now teaches to others.
“It is important for everyone, not just women, to know some basic self-defense tactics just in case they end up in a dangerous situation.” South said.
Regardless of who a person is, there’s always a chance they could be targeted or assaulted, and self-defense classes help prepare people for those scenarios. Security Forces Airmen could get into a physical altercation on duty. Anybody could be assaulted or robbed anywhere, however, it is statistically more likely they will be targeted by someone they know, South said.
“Just because we’re in the military doesn’t mean that we’re immune from ending up in a situation where you may have to use self-defense,” she said.
It’s also important because it allows women to go out and feel safer and more comfortable, she said.
Matheny said studies have shown assailants tend to target those who appear vulnerable based on their posture, perceived situational awareness, and how confidently they carry themselves.
“Studies have proven that there are definitely victim traits that criminals look for when choosing who, and who not to select,” he said. “We change those traits and habits by empowering the mind and training.”
Matheny emphasized that building proficiency and confidence can help a person appear less appealing to potential offenders. He discussed how to avoid dangerous situations as well as demonstrating what to do if an assailant approaches from the front, back or grabs ahold you.
Matheny and South both encouraged the attendees to keep practicing what they learned during the classes to build muscle memory so they can be more effective and react more quickly.
South further added that anyone unable to attend the classes should seek out classes at a reputable local gym and to do their research on effective self-defense methods.