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RAD course offers students basic self-defense training

Lauren Hennen

Issue date: 10/17/08 Section: News
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RAD began offering self defense classes for women in 1996 and has grown since. The class teaches physical defense strategies, but the main focus is for women to learn various ways to stay out of potentially harmful situations.
Media Credit: Courtesy RAD
RAD began offering self defense classes for women in 1996 and has grown since. The class teaches physical defense strategies, but the main focus is for women to learn various ways to stay out of potentially harmful situations.

In 1996, when Sergeant Karen Gregor was first certified to teach Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) courses, Case Western Reserve University held just one class. Twelve years later, Gregor and other Case Police officers are still offering the RAD program to interested Case students, running a minimum of two courses per year.

RAD, which is made up of weekly three-hour classes stretching across a four week period, is a program aimed to train women in self-defense. Gregor said that RAD instructors undergo a three-day "boot camp" in which they are trained in various self-defense techniques and how best to teach those techniques to women enrolling in the course. During the four class periods, women learn how to recognize potentially threatening situations and respond to those situations. While the six officers who serve as RAD instructors at Case do teach punching and kicking, Gregor said that the main focus of the program is not physical defense.

"We do try very much to focus on avoidance and how to stay safe," she said. Instructors teach women to recognize different methods of staying safe while traveling. Traveling in numbers at night and being aware of one's surroundings are both excellent ways to avoid potentially dangerous situations while traveling, but Gregor says that learning escape techniques is important as well. Throughout the RAD course, women are taught several different punches and kicks. During the last class, women are given the opportunity to try out their new techniques on a RAD officer in protective gear.

"It's the most fun part of the course," Gregor said.

In addition to avoiding attacks while traveling, RAD courses instruct women on how to deal with attackers who they may know. "Not every 'bad guy' is a stranger," Gregor said, "so we teach women what to do about aggression in social situations."

While RAD is open to any female who wishes to sign up, the majority of enrollees are Case students, and Case Protective Services provides the funding for the free program. Since its start on campus in 1996, Protective Services has covered the RAD equipment and training costs and backed the program when it was in danger of being shut down.

"For a while, we were having trouble getting students to come to the program," Gregor said. However, Protective Services did not want to see RAD courses cancelled, and fought to keep the program alive at Case.

This year, Delta Gamma hosted a RAD program for its members, and there is a campus-wide course scheduled to take place in February. Protective Services also plans to offer a men's RAD course in the future. Class sizes are capped at 20 due to equipment and training constraints, but Gregor emphasized that anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, is welcome to sign up for the course. Instructors teach a variety of self-defense approaches so that each woman can determine which approach is best for her.

"We've had class members with hip replacements before," she said. "It's all about finding your own strengths."
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