Wake Forest University students punch and kick their way to self-defense

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Over the last 25 years, more than 7,000 Wake Forest University students have been trained in self-defense in what’s called a Rape Aggression Defense – or R.A.D. – course. This week, FOX8 took a firsthand look at their training in action.

“This is the day we look forward to getting beat up,” said R.A.D. Instructor Anthony Chambers.

For seven weeks, students have learned how to prevent, escape and evade offenders.

“They’re not using just one technique,” said Jeff Holomean, a police officer and senior R.A.D. instructor. “They’re using about 33 different techniques we’ve taught them.”

On Thursday, students put everything they’ve learned to the test in a dynamic fight simulation. They were verbally and physically confronted by their instructors, both one and two at a time.

“When the aggressor attacks you, you give that stunning blow, whatever it takes to get away. Run. We don’t teach you to stand there and continue to kick and pound, because then you’re still in harm’s way,” Chambers said.

The instructors say many of the students who come to them have never punched anything before.

“You realize that a lot of these young ladies have never had to defend themselves,” Holomean said. “So, they have zero self-defense.”

They look to instill confidence in the students that they can defend themselves should they ever need to; going at 100 percent in training so their muscle memory responds should they come across a real-life confrontation.

“When it does happen in real life, we won’t be scared of the situation, but we’ll be ready,” said Wake Forest University junior Kamryn King.

“Now I have definite set techniques I can use in case something happens,” added freshman Janani Srinivasan.

The instructors say graduates have come back to see them and tell them how their training has helped protect either themselves or others. Students also often introduce the instructors to their parents.

“Wake teaches a lot of things, but we gave them a life skill to go with it which is a really cool thing,” Holomean.

R.A.D. is taught on campus through the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department and University Police Department.

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