If you were violently attacked, how would you respond? This question was asked at a class I attended at District Combatives located in District Crossfit on Half Street SW. I thought to myself, “Well, I know I’m in good physical shape, but I also know that’s not enough.” My answer quickly became, “I don’t feel I would be able to get myself out of a sticky situation.” This got me thinking I need to do something about it.
Maybe you have been in a violent confrontation where it was critical to defend yourself, but you didn’t have the tools to get to safety. Or maybe you did and felt lucky to have escaped. When walking to work, down the street a few blocks to a friend’s house, or to the grocery store, do you feel concern about knowing how to safeguard yourself? Don’t get stuck feeling helpless. Now is the perfect time to let those worries go by the wayside by engaging in District Combatives.
What Is Combatives?
Combatives is a practical, no-nonsense self-defense method that can be used by individuals of all ages and abilities to help them to identify, de-escalate, protect, and disengage from a threatening or violent situation. Law enforcement agencies across the US embrace it.
The pre-qualification requirement identifies your self-defense objectives and helps tailor your training sessions. “Violence and threats are physical, psychological, and emotional,” explained District Combatives founder and chief instructor Ben Drader. “Typically the psychological aspect is present first. If you find yourself in a physical altercation, what is your motivation to continue the fight when you’re out of breath, your muscles are fatigued, and you feel like you have nothing left?” District Combatives brings out the best in you, he says.
My First Class
Written on Drader’s shirt was “Be Your Own Bodyguard.” This statement reappeared again and again throughout the class. After a warmup geared to prepare for the workout, the seven members of our group, from various backgrounds, ages, and physical sizes, paired up with a partner and practiced collarbone taps and punches, switching partners every few minutes. I soon realized I had to adjust my tactics from person to person, based on height, size, and techniques. I am a female standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 145 pounds. Therefore, being paired with a 350-pound man was intimidating and extremely different than my strategies with a female weighing 130 pounds.
Crystal, a mother of two, has been attending District Combatives for six weeks and loves it. “I was working out three days a week in the weight room but wanted something different that would provide me with a challenging workout, yet leave me mentally stimulated,” she said. Practicing the techniques with different people was eye opening. “One of the girls was really quick getting in and out with her punches, and I tried to adjust to that. Whereas the bigger guys have the longer arm reach and were taller, so something I tried to do was bring them down to my level.”
Drader explained that “most risk factors can be mitigated with minimal training.” Knowing these key training aspects will help you deliver the right message to an aggressor. I recommend you learn these skills, practice them, and encourage your loved ones to participate as well.
District Combatives does not only improve your ability to minimize and defend a physical altercation, it teaches you tools valuable in other areas of life as well. The training method is based on how the body operates, functions, and moves when under duress, not just in a physical confrontation but in any type of confrontation, such as asking for a raise at work.
Four Important Concepts
Number one, establish eye contact. If you feel someone is following you, establish eye contact to let them know you know they’re there. Failure to establish eye contact may encourage an aggressor. Also, if you show you are aware of their presence, it takes away the possibility of a surprise attack.
Number two, create space. Allowing extra physical space between you and your aggressor limits their ability to physically harm you.
Number three, pay attention to your footwork. Footwork allows you to put yourself in a balanced and powerful position so you don’t slip or fall.
Number four, carry a small handheld flashlight or car key. If you don’t want to carry pepper spray, a knife, or other weapon, a handheld flashlight or car key can give you enough space to get away. Many associate a flashlight with the police or military, disrupting their attack. A light shined into the eyes can give you a few moments to run away. In a pinch, a flashlight or a car key can become a weapon when held firmly and targeted at soft and sensitive parts of the body.
Drader offers weekly classes designed to work against real attacks, giving you the physical tools to defend yourself. Classes are personable, held in a friendly environment and small group setting. For more information or to attend a class at District Combatives visit www.DistrictCombatives.com. You can also contact Ben Drader directly at Ben@DistrictCombatives.com. District Combatives is located inside District Crossfit at 1525 Half Street SW.
I learned that I have a lot to gain, which is why I’ve joined Drader’s regular weekly classes. Hope to see you there!
Stacy Peterson, MS, CSCS, CHHC, is a functional nutrition educator, holistic health coach, and strength and conditioning coach practicing whole-foods nutrition and physical training for individuals of all ages and activities on the Hill. She offers an integrative aspect to everyone’s healthcare and performance team. For recipes, nutrition, and exercise tips sign up for the monthly newsletter at www.accelerationsports.net. To see how we can help you achieve your health and/or fitness goals contact Acceleration Sports by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 805-704-7193.