by Mike Knaak
Two St. Joseph police officers are now trained to teach women how to defend themselves from an attacker.
Officers Celeste Walz and Dan Magaard attended a three-day course to earn Basic Certification in the Rape Aggression Defense program – called RAD.
“We learned how to teach women to use their voice and (some) maneuvers like punching, kicking and striking,” Walz said.
The program teaches self-defense tactics and techniques that begin with awareness and progresses to hands-on defense training.
“The objective is escape,” Walz said.
The two officers plan to offer sessions for a pre-selected group of women this spring to hone their teaching skills.
By August, the officers hope to open the course to all women in the community. The courses will be taught at the Government Center and they will be free.
Class members can be any age starting at age 12 (when accompanied by their mother). The class sessions total nine hours. Bad Habit Brewing raised money from the sale of a special beer called Bad for Good to pay for mats.
The training course showed the officers how to teach women to position themselves to create a distance from harm, Magaard said.
“We learned to teach them to do something the attacker doesn’t expect,” Magaard said, “(like) tak(ing) the mental part away from the attacker along with using physical (aspects). It’s a tremendous resource for women.”
While wearing protective gear, the officers learned physical skills to fight back.
“I haven’t been in a situation where I could use my full force,” Walz said. “It was really good to see how you could use the skills to effectively escape.”
Before attending the training conducted at South Dakota State University, Walz said she had observed several RAD classes.
“It’s incredible (to watch) women (who) can have all different backgrounds and life experiences and (with)in the first 30 minutes, you can physically see the change in them,” she said.
The class also informs women about how to communicate with police officers about a situation including attacker and vehicle descriptions.
“This is really good for a college town with an all-female college,” Walz said.