Women's Empowerment Series
The evolution of this successful and popular women's self-defense program has developed into a full spectrum of modules which provide girls and women the tools and knowledge they need to gain the best chance of effectively defending themselves from sexual assault.
The original series began in 1994 when Brad Parker and Greg Holmes were asked to provide self-defense classes to the mothers, wives and girlfriends of the martial arts students at their Bushido Karate Academy in Chandler, Arizona. The "Women's Empowerment Series" philosophy of women's self-defense emerged from their early experiences with teaching women what is still considered to be "women's self-defense" by most martial arts instructors.
Brad's development of the program, then called "Rape Escape", continued when he joined Nathan Zigler to form the Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Phoenix in 1998. Nathan's input as well as the telling experiences of the hundreds of women who took the Rape Escape courses began to gel into a curriculum that spanned three different levels. When students began requesting a video notebook of the techniques, the Rape Escape videos were produced in 2000 and 2001. When the videos came out, various individuals began contacting Brad about teaching the method. The subsequent instructor certification courses have produced instructors across North America, Ireland and the U.K.
The original program consisted of three levels which were interwoven to some degree so students were required to take the courses in order -- Level 1 was a prerequisite for Level 2 and Level 2 was a prerequisite for Level 3. This proved to be restrictive for both students and instructors alike.
The Women's Empowerment Series for women's self-defense now consists of individual modules that can be taken separately or in a series. Students have the freedom of choosing a module which fits their particular need and instructors have more courses to market depending on their target audiences.
Level One -- This is the most popular course taught in the series. It is centered on the "Stay with People" principle and covers the most common sexual assault scenarios. (Sexual assault scenarios means the student will actually learn how to escape from the very same positions in which rapists carry out their attacks.) This module is especially effective for attacks in parking lots, parking garages and other areas where it is imperative that you not be taken to a secondary location where you can be raped and murdered. The innovative method developed here is to start students in the worst position possible -- the attacker has you pinned on the ground and is in between your thighs. (Once this concept is mastered, all of the other attacks seem easy by comparison.) Students learn to effectively defend against this position as well as chokes, hits, and grabs. They learn to escape the dreaded and deadly "blitz" attack from behind as well as how to defend their space and keep an attacker from conducting a successful "interview".
Level Two -- This module centers on the "Go to People" principle and is probably the module most often taught initially in high schools and universities by instructors. The module covers date rape scenarios and provides the tactics and techniques students need to defend against an attack in a secluded area and escape to a populated area. It is designed to defend against attacks that can be perpetrated by acquaintances and, considering that 75% of all attacks are committed by someone who knows you, this module could be one of the most practical.
Level Three -- One of the most common questions women have is, "but what if he's holding a knife against my throat?". You must be prepared to defend against an armed rapist. Knowing that the unarmed defender is at a huge disadvantage against an armed attacker, this module is designed to provide responses that allow a women to neutralize an attack until help can arrive. Techniques include defense against being strangled with a cord, beaten with a club, stabbed with a knife or shot with a handgun. The principle here is "Stop the Killing" long enough so you can save yourself when there is no one else to save you.
Level Four -- This module was created in response to the success of the Level 3 module. In the process of successfully defending themselves against an armed attacker, Level 3 students often end up with the attacker's weapon. The question becomes, "what do I do with it now?" The tables are turned and you can effectively defend yourself with the club, knife or gun from the attacker. Real life cases also support this module in that victims have reported they have had opportunities to grab the attacker's weapon, but chose not to because they didn't have the knowledge of what to do with it. W4W teaches a streamlined approach that allows women to pick up any weapon and effectively use it. And, just as importantly, the module teaches a very effective method for keeping your weapon from an attacker whether it be pepper spray, taser or handgun. In a method true to the Fight Like a Girl DNA, extensive role playing allows students to actually use the weapons against the instructors. This module has also proven to be popular with women who currently carry a weapon for self-defense.
Women who complete any one of the self-defense modules report a huge jump in their confidence of actually being able to use the techniques because they have actually used them during the course, full-force against a male attacker.
One of the huge advantages of this method is that it was developed for regular, non-martial arts females largely through the experimentation and development by regular, non-martial arts females. It was not developed by Special Forces commandos. It was not developed by elite law enforcement trainers. The program's success stems from the fact that regular women can easily learn and retain the techniques. This came from years of studying real life sexual assaults and developing effective, gross-body responses applied in a carefully controlled escalation of stress and realistic role-playing.