The attacker grabbed me from behind so I grappled him to the ground and pounded his face frantically. But another jumped on me and suddenly I was fighting for my life against two assailants.
Thankfully, it was all a simulated fight and instead of a dark alley in a ghetto area, we were at the Cayman Prep School.
My attackers were ‘bulletmen’, martial arts instructors in protective suits and we were in another Fast Adrenaline Stress Training Defense class.
The FAST Defense programme was devised by Bill Kipp, the world renowned martial arts instructor.
His experiences as an ex-marine, bouncer and stuntman helped him devise more effective ways of learning to defend yourself in an unexpected attack.
Kipp teaches that a potential victim can avoid a physical attack just by their initial verbal response and body language. Conflict resolution is his aim.
He is ably assisted by wife Debra Thomas, a FAST coach whose own harrowing tales of sexual and physical abuse prepared her well for her present life, trying to empower women in abusive relationships.
They are based in Colorado and have travelled the world promoting FAST Defense but like the vibe in Cayman best.
The realism in the three-hour sessions is what sets FAST Defense apart from other self-defense programmes, which is why instructors have to wear bulletmen padding. It costs $99 per three-hour adult session and everybody agrees it’s great value.
All the Cayman seminars have been organised by Bob Daigle, a Coldwell Banker realtor and former world champion martial arts fighter. He is now the director of FAST Defense in the Caribbean.
Between the three instructors they want to use the Cayman Islands as a model for how FAST Defense can positively change a relatively small community. They’ve dubbed it ‘Train a Nation’.
They want every citizen here to attend at least one class. The intended effect will be a more harmonious, respectful island with less violence and crime which can be used as a model worldwide.
Karen Coles attended the first FAST Defense seminar in March and was so enthused came back for more.
‘On the Basics course last month I discovered the power of my voice and how to channel the adrenaline into a weapon,’ she said.
‘On the Advanced Basics today, although my adrenaline was still high I was more able to focus on the moves and therefore absorbed a lot more information.
‘The attacks felt as though we were really fighting for our lives and the trainers really did a brilliant job. My confidence keeps on growing and I can’t wait for the next course now!’
There were three classes of around 25 over the weekend and the testimonies were glowing.
‘I’d like to thank Bill Kipp and his team for a great training session today,’ said Dr Barry Richter.
‘My goal was to learn as many skills possible to keep my family and myself safe in case of threat of physical violence and I believe that I achieved that.
‘More exciting than that was to learn of Bob Daigle and the team’s vision to ‘train a nation’ in techniques of self-preservation and self-respect.
‘As a physician I believe that the time is so right to support this cause (just think about what has happened in Cayman in the last six months) and will do what I can to support their vision.
‘I agree that every person on this island should have access to this training and I will start by sending my family and office staff for training, and also distribute information through my practice recommending your courses.’
The Governor’s wife Mariko Jack took the first FAST Defense session and loved it. Amongst the students this time round were Cindy and John Blekaitis, Jedd Ebanks, Troy O’Neil and James Burch.
One of the sessions was fully booked by David Reid, CEO of Caribbean Publishing for his family and employees.
Reid is a martial arts black belt who has trained with Daigle for a while. ‘The FAST Defense seminar for our company’s staff members and family was an amazing experience,’ said Reid.
‘The feedback from everyone that attended was overwhelmingly positive. A number of staff members are already talking about attending the advanced seminars.
‘I strongly encourage all companies to consider sponsoring seminars for their staff members. The cost of the seminar was less than the cost of our annual Christmas party. And as a team building event, I don’t know what we can do that would be better.
‘I would like to arrange these seminars for the staff members in our other offices in the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica where we have our largest office and have sponsored general self defense seminars for our staff in the past.
‘Hopefully this would provide a jump-start for FAST Defense throughout the entire Caribbean.’
Daigle is organising a programme for children next month, FAST Cats and also another Basics level 1, defense against weapons seminar and a ground fighting seminar.
Daigle was thrilled by Reid’s support. He said: ‘A special thanks to Caribbean Publishing Company for sponsoring their entire staff last Saturday. Their company also gave to everyone Bill’s book Turning Fear Into Power as well as an instructional DVD on FAST Defense.
‘Thank you very much to everyone who emailed their testimonials. We are actively working on our own website and will post them to our site. It will be awesome.’
Daigle added that if anyone is interested in taking a seminar next month contact him by email.
Word of mouth is the best advert: ‘We had five emails the next morning from people who have been referred by people who have already attended. We feel that once the dates are set the seminars will fill up quickly.
‘I’d also like to thank our sponsors Coldwell Banker and Dollar Car Rental for their sponsorship.’ Daigle also added that there are more sponsorship opportunities available for next month’s 10 seminars if anyone wants to get involved.
Daigle can be contacted on: [email protected].