Female SJSU student getting ready to defend herself against an attacker in a simulated class scenario

Self Defense Class Empowers Women

Female SJSU student getting ready to defend herself against an attacker in a simulated class scenario

The writer, junior journalism/nutrition major Amanda Holst, prepares to use the tactics she's learned in RAD training against an "attacker" in a simulated abduction scenario (photo by Elena Polanco).

Walking on campus alone at night can be a chilling experience. As a woman taking an evening class, I worried that I would not have a line of defense should I run into trouble returning to my car. The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class I took over the weekend changed all of that for me. The 12-hour, two-day workshop, offered by the University Police Department since 1998, is a way to mentally and physically prepare women for escape from attempted sexual assaults.

The first day of my class, I walked into the UPD building and was escorted by an officer to the “off-limits” second floor. I walked down a long hallway and into a classroom by the UPD officer locker rooms. The first half of the day was spent learning how to reduce the risk of an attack and how to use my body parts as personal weapons. We broke for an hour lunch and then spent the rest of the day in the Spartan Complex gym learning basic stances and repeated movements including strikes, kicks and blocks. The most empowering event of the day was when I escaped a choke hold from my instructor!

The next day we returned to the mats, this time learning how to defend ourselves if the attack went to the ground. I appreciated the mental preparedness that came along with these exercises. The last part of the day we suited up in padding and experienced real-life simulations of being attacked, using all the techniques we learned in class. Adrenaline rushed as I fought my way to escape each situation.

Although I may never need to use this training, I know that should I be attacked, I will be able to defend myself … and that’s an empowering feeling.

Classes are $5 for female SJSU students, faculty, staff and other community members. The next RAD class is Nov. 12-13. Please keep in mind SJSU community members can request an Evening Guide Escort by calling UPD at (408) 924-2222 or by using a campus bluelight phone.