11 September 2018
In 2006, National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) revealed that 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted. That’s more than 600 women per day.
In addition, a recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 1 in 5 female undergraduates across 9 institutions had experienced sexual assault on campus during the 2014-2015 school year.
Violent crimes against women are not decreasing in frequency, and young girls are being targeted even in school; something needs to be done to reduce these statistics, and Fight Like a Girl (FLAG) aims to do just that.
Hosted by the Artistic Martial Arts School in Colorado Springs, FLAG is a two-day course geared towards the communal and individual empowerment of women, as well as self-defense through hand-to-hand combat.
The program pulled techniques from military programs like TAC (Tactical Assault Continuum) and RAT (Rapid Assault Tactics) to develop skills similar to those used in actual warfare.
The methods and strike points taught in the course were carefully selected to emphasize all the joint-locking, balance-disrupting elements of Hapkido, a martial art specializing in the exploitation of the human body, without a need for immense physical strength, coordination or background knowledge.
The system was based on the instinctual reactions and defense mechanisms already present within the human body, allowing students to instead focus on the conceptual implications of the techniques rather than the styled movements commonly studied in other models.
Though simple in principle, FLAG took an approach to hand-to-hand combat that changes dynamically with the fight, highlighting the identification and utilization of weak points as they appear.
Yet FLAG didn’t only target the weaknesses of the body; it also went after the weaknesses of the mind.
According to a study by RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free and only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are even reported at all; 2 out of 3 go unspoken.
This is due to the fact that 71% of victims either fear retaliation, believe it isn’t important, want to protect the attacker, believe it is a personal matter or believe the police cannot—or will not—do anything to help.
When it comes to women, most feel embarrassed by or even guilty for their assault, so they avoid reporting for the sake of an “unenforceable” crime. FLAG strove to change this mentality by encouraging self-empowerment through self-defense, ultimately aiming to build the courage to step up and report assaults to the authorities.
Another study by NCVS revealed that 80% of women who fought back during a sexual assault or rape attempt successfully prevented the attack. This number alone proves how essential self-defense classes can be to women everywhere—even a brief two-day course like FLAG can be all it takes to stop you, or someone you love, from becoming just another statistic.