Friday night seemed to rush up to them while they were not looking. They had so much to do and felt like they would never remember everything they had to do. The students were due to arrive soon and they were taking care of all the last minute stuff. Making sure that the equipment was all set out and in good shape, not like they hadn’t looked it over a couple hundred times. As the hour drew near, Amy stopped and looked at her friends as they bustled about making their final preparations. “Hey guys?” she said, “can you come over here for just a second?” Amy and Brad came over and asked what she needed. “I need a hug” she said “I think that we should take a minute to calm down, to gather our thoughts and get our heads in the right place so that we can be ready to teach these young women tonight.” Jennie and Brad immediately threw their arms around her, and each other, and the three of them stood there for a couple of minutes, just drinking in the feeling of calm that was slipping over them. Then they broke apart with a laugh and went back to their preparations, with a little less apprehension and a little more anticipation.
The three of them had, in their earlier discussions, agreed that Brad would be the lead instructor, as he had been teaching this sort of thing for quite a while already. Amy and Jennie would be instructors too, but Brad would do the initial groundwork for them to build on once they split the group into three. They had also made up a check list of all the points that were super important. The ones that absolutely had to be made in these classes, so that they didn’t miss one. They had three copies of this list and they each had one on a clip board in their hands. This gave them something to refer to as well as something to do with their hands during that initial hectic meeting of students.
Then the students started to trickle in. One did not usually think of 17 people as a crowd, but that is what it felt like once they had all arrived. With the three instructors, there were now 20 people in the dojo, the fullest it had ever been. Once they had gotten the women all seated on the mats and ready to pay attention and learn, they started their first ever class. “Good evening ladies” began Brad quietly “My name is Brad Hendrixson and I will be one of your instructors for this class.” Then, gesturing to the two at his side he said “and this is Amy and Jennie. They are also instructors, and we are all so very glad to see you here tonight.” Amy and Jennie had nodded as he said their names, and stood by to listen as he gave the basic premise of the class – that they were there to learn some self defense moves that they had developed to make better use of how a woman’s body was built. After he was done, Amy stepped forward and started to speak. She couldn’t seem to get the words out at first, but cleared her throat and tried again. “As Brad said, I am Amy. I wanted to speak with you for just a moment before we get into the meat of this course. Please bare with me – this is going to be the first time I have spoken of this to anyone outside of my family – so it may take me a little bit to get it out.” The students sat in attentive postures, waiting for her to continue, so she did “When I was sixteen years old, I was walking down the beach with a friend from school, a young man, at dusk. We had become separated from the rest of our group, who were back a ways playing volleyball and swimming.” She paused and swallowed hard. “excuse me” ahem, she cleared her throat again “after we had walked a ways, two men jumped out of the bushes and kidnapped me, after striking my friend on the head and knocking him out.” She took a in deep breath, slowly letting it out again “These men carried me off down the beach to a secluded area and they….” Glancing at her friends Amy paused again. “They raped me.” She finally said. “They were mean, evil men and they hurt me that day. The injuries were minor compared to what they did to my soul. We started this self defense class in order to make sure that nothing like that EVER happens to one of you!” she said emphatically. “We want you to be safe, we want you to know how to take care of yourself, we want you to have a happy, wonderful life without the specter of an attack in your mind every waking moment.” She stopped then and looked helplessly at her friends, it seemed that she had run out of steam and Jennie stepped up and took over “This course will not make you completely safe, nothing will. But we hope that what it will do is give you the knowledge you need to help you stay out of situations that could be dangerous, and if that is not the case, then the moves to be able to get away.” After that the three friends sort of ‘tag teamed’ the students, first one would talk and then one of the others would pick up where he or she left off and carry it for a few minutes and then they would trade off again. It seemed to be the right approach, as the students were completely engrossed in what they were saying.
“This class is not intended as a method of making you invincible” the lesson started out “but as a means of keeping you safe or offering you alternatives in the event of an attack or confrontation.” That was most likely going to become the motto of their program Amy thought as they moved into the meat of the lesson. “What we are going to teach you tonight will be basics, you will not be a professional boxer or anything, but you will be able to make an impression on anyone dumb enough to think they can make off with you.” “Some of what we want you to learn is prevention. Where not to go, how to walk, how to look around, that sort of thing. Someone looking for a victim will usually not pick the person who is aware of what is going on around them, they are too hard to surprise.” The lecture part of the class took a little over thirty minutes after which the students were given a chance to ask questions. They were gratified to hear some very intuitive questions, questions that proved they were listening. That was a very good sign. At that point they took a short break. “Get up, stretch your legs, go to the ladies room if you need to and then we will start with the stretching exercises.” Jennie told them.
After that short break the girls reassembled on the mats and Brad divided them into three groups. They left some room between each group so that they could stretch out and started the next step. Most people have no idea how to effectively stretch prior to a work-out” Brad told his group and heard similar statements coming from both sides. “What we want to accomplish with these exercises is to warm up your muscles without straining them. If we do this correctly then there will be no injury to the muscle during the sparring.” He then led them thru a series of stretches and exercises geared to just that purpose. Amy and Jennie were doing the same thing on either side of his students.
As soon as Brad was satisfied that they were properly warmed up it was time to move on to the next step. “Please stay in your groups, but pay attention to me for a minute.” Brad said to them all. “We are now going to start learning the moves.
It was an exciting hour in the dojo. The students were having a great time, to them learning these things seemed to be great fun, and they laughed and poked fun at themselves and each other and gradually seemed to simply fall into form and the moves came more naturally. It was at that point that Brad took his group over to where the equipment was laid out and started explaining what was what and why it worked the way it did. After that he helped them put the equipment on correctly. Then it was time for the other groups to run thru the same drill. Brad had his group remove the equipment and lay it back out, then took them back to the mat for a few more run practice runs of the moves. After everyone had become familiar with the moves and the equipment the three instructors got them all back together for the last lesson of the day. “Now that you have spent some time here, learning these moves and safety measures, how do you feel about the class?” asked Jennie. All the girls started talking at once, and the general consensus was that this was fabulous. They felt great about what they had learned and were really looking forward to the next day when they could learn even more. “I am so glad that you feel this way” She said “I am really looking forward to tomorrow as well. I just have one more reminder for you before class will be dismissed. Please remember that you are not supposed to discuss any of these moves with any men. Not your dads, not your boyfriends, not your brothers. One of the things that this does is it keeps the moves and your abilities secret, that way if anyone ever does bother you, you will have an element of surprise and that may buy you time to escape the situation. Thank you all for coming tonight and we will see you tomorrow.”
After the students had left the three of them threw themselves down on the mats and just lay there recovering slightly from the tension of the last few hours. Then they all sat up and started to evaluate how it had gone. They were pretty satisfied, over all, with how it had turned out. Tomorrow would be a little easier on them, but a little harder on the students. “All in all, it was a good nights work.” Said Brad and Amy and Jennie had to agree. They walked out into the night air together with a feeling of accomplishment.