Renegade Adventures: R.A.D. Training Days

Ambria King practices her Rape Aggression Defense blocks and kicks on foam pads. Training took place over two days, with day one as an educational day covering defensive practices, and day two focusing on physical training and defensive moves.

Ambria King, Reporter

Growing up, my grandmother would always tell me that I would sooner see an ant in the sky than an elephant on the ground. I’m a bit of daydreamer, and all too often I pay little-to-no attention as I stroll from one location to another. I’ve always known that my habit of ignoring my surroundings put me at greater risk of running into poles or tripping over curbs. I did not, however, realize that it put me at greater risk for becoming a target of sexual assault.

When I decided to attend the Rape Aggression Defense class for this adventure, I expected to learn a bunch of fancy physical defense moves that could be used if the unfortunate event of becoming the target of sexual assault ever took place, and I did. But the main lesson I took away from the class was that there are things I have been doing for years that greatly increase my risks of becoming a victim in the first place.

“Ninety percent of rape aggression defense is prevention.” That was the message drilled into my head on the first day of training. As I sat in a conference room with the four other women and one eleven-year-old girl who attended the class, Jason, one of the instructors, brought up the point that the predators who target women for sexual assault aren’t looking for a fair fight. In fact, they’re looking for an easy target.

This point seems so obvious when I think about it now, and yet, how often have I meandered around in dark parking lots after sundown, completely absorbed in the act of reading a text message or thinking about my seemingly never-ending to-do list, without paying the slightest bit of attention to my surroundings? Too many times to count. I think it’s something quite a few of us do without ever giving it a second thought.

Day one of R.A.D. training was an unsettling, albeit eye-opening, experience. Four hours of my Friday afternoon were spent learning about proper safety techniques, from how to properly secure and light my home to what to do in the event that I’m followed in my car. I learned that I always need to have my head on a swivel and watch my surroundings, and to trust my intuition when something gives me a bad feeling. We discussed the recent slew of attempted rapes and kidnappings that have taken place at or near Bakersfield College in the past few months, and nearly all of the women at the class cited them as a major reason for attending.

After prevention, I learned that my second strongest weapon against sexual assault is my voice. I grew up in a household that always stressed the importance of being polite and “ladylike.” While I don’t think that politeness is a bad quality to possess, I must admit that there have been times when I have failed to speak up for myself out of fear of being impolite. There have been times when unfamiliar men have sat too close to me or said things that bordered on inappropriate, and instead of firmly telling them to get away from me, I’ve smiled weakly and looked for any reason to escape the situation as quickly as possible. In essence, I’ve acted like an easy target.

As I drove home from day one of training, I realized that I felt more paranoid and unsafe than I did before attending training. I thought about all of the times I’ve been in unsettling situations with unknown men and how often I’ve been completely oblivious to my surroundings, and I thanked my lucky stars that I’ve managed to avoid being a victim. Before going to bed that night, I double checked my locks, made sure all my blinds were closed, and promised myself that I would start speaking up for myself and stop neglecting my safety.

Day two of R.A.D. training started at 9 a.m. the next morning. We met with the trainers, Christina and Carlos, in the A.S.L. lab inside of the language arts building, and started in on the fun part of training: physical self-defense.

Growing up, I took Tae Kwan Do, had an older brother who was a wrestler, and a father who was an amateur boxer. It’s safe to say I enjoy a bit of sparring. As we began going over basic stances, blocks, kicks, and strikes, I started to really feel like I was in my element. We learned how to break free from certain holds, and what to do if we’re knocked to the ground. Christina demonstrated each move and encouraged us to shout, “no!” with every strike. I can’t express how stress relieving it is to take out all of your aggression on a large padded bag. It was awesome to watch as even the eleven-year-old girl really started to get into it. As the day rolled on, the feelings of fear and paranoia that had plagued me the day before fell away, and I started to notice a different sensation coming over me. I felt strong. I felt capable. I felt empowered. Sexual assault is still something that can happen to anyone at any time, but after taking R.A.D. training, I know there are steps I can take to reduce my risks. I plan on attending more R.A.D. training sessions, and luckily, as long as I hang on to the booklet I was given at this training session, I can get into any R.A.D. training event anywhere in the country for free. BC will be holding another free R.A.D. training event May 17 and 18. I strongly suggest that all female students attend. You can even bring your friends and family members, It’s a ton of fun and has given me a sense of empowerment when it comes to safety and security.