The Sun News

Q&A with Deborah Coleman

Deborah Coleman
Deborah Coleman

Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Victim's advocate, Hodac Inc.

Q: What's the purpose of Hodac's Fight Like a Woman classes?

A: To empower women by teaching self-defense and enabling them to protect themselves and prevent victimization. It's for girls, teens and women to help them feel more confident whether it's in a department store parking lot, in a purse-snatch situation or other threatening circumstance. It's also helpful for those who may be in an abusive relationship.

Q: Is there a cost for the class? And where are they held?

A: There is no cost. It's free. We move classes between locations in Houston County and Peach County. The last we had was at the Green Acres Baptist Church gym, but most often they're at the Moose Lodge at 400 Carl Vinson Parkway. They let us use their space as part of their community outreach. Classes are once a month on a Saturday between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. We have snacks -- bottled water and breakfast bars.

Q: When and where is the next class?

A: March 19 at the Moose Lodge.

Q: What are classes like? What do participants learn?

A: They're very casual and there's a real relaxed atmosphere. Participants are greeted when they come in and we have the snacks. We teach very basic but important techniques. Things like how to get free from a perpetrator's grasp, how to handle physical threats and generally how to deal with an attacker in different situations.

Q: Is there any special experience or fitness level required?

A: None. Our instructors have taught people who are elderly, who have canes and limited mobility, as well as very young children with limited strength. Our instructors stress that with these techniques, size doesn't matter. How often is there going to be a fair fight anyway? When is an attacker going to be limited to your own size and height and weight? But there are things you can learn to effectively protect yourself and get out of the situation. We're not teaching women how to kill or destroy but how to put an opponent down and get away.

Q: So is there an age limit?

A: We prefer it be 5 and up. It's for girls and women 5 and up.

Q: Can women just show up or do they need to pre-register?

A: They can just show up. There's no need to pre-register. If you have a group of 10 people or something then, yes, we'd like to know ahead of time so we can prepare. But if it's just you or a couple of people, then just show up.

Q: Who teaches the Fight Like a Woman classes?

A: We have two really great instructors. Both have been involved in martial arts a long time and have a lot of experience teaching. One is Stanley Warren, who began martial arts in 1978 and is a longtime teacher. He has a martial-arts business called Okinawan Seidokan Karate and teaches at Robins Air Force Base. Steve Moodie is our other instructor and has 35-plus years in martial arts training. He has a business called Moodie's On-Site Fitness and Flexibility Consulting, and he helps individuals with range of motion issues and fitness education. Both do Fight Like a Woman for free as a community service. They don't charge us or the women anything.

Q: Why did HODAC begin a Fight Like a Woman program?

A: We see victimized women every week, every day. It was natural for us to think about a program like this for them, but we wanted to expand it to help women -- all women -- keep from becoming victims. We wanted to empower them, help them build confidence. After the classes most say they feel safer knowing they can handle themselves better, and they're excited they've learned some basic things that can be useful and applicable.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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