The FAST Defense classes resume next week and such is the demand that there will be 10 seminars aimed at people of all ages and abilities.
Bill Kipp and Debra Thomas are Fear Adrenal Stress Training instructors. The Americans have been successfully teaching the practical qualities of dealing with street attacks for years around the world.
FAST Defense is not solely about learning how to fight off an attacker, but dealing with conflict resolution. That involves using verbal skills and body language initially so that the situation does not even have to get violent.
In their two visits here Kipp and Thomas particularly enjoyed the response of students and were so inspired have dubbed their project in Cayman ‘Train the Nation’.
FAST Defense classes are unique in that they are as near to realism as possible. There are 60 FAST Defense teams scattered around the US and the intention is to have a strong presence in the Caribbean, with Cayman being the base.
Instructors act as ‘woofers’ – the perpetrators of violent acts – and also dress in ‘bulletmen’ protective padding to allow students to strike out with full force.
They want to instruct every Cayman resident capable of taking a class which will in turn make society here more respectful and less violent.
This philosophy is already resonating with corporate Cayman and respected professionals alike. Dr Barry Richter, Cindy Blekaitis and James Burch have all attended and praised the seminars. Burch, in fact, is going to be a bulletman and his wife, Gemma, says her confidence has grown enormously since attending.
Publisher David Reid has already sponsored one seminar and will do so again and Coldwell Banker and Dollar Car Rental always give their backing.
The Governor’s wife, Mariko Jack, attended the first seminar and loved it, so too did organisers and attendees from the women’s crisis centre.
Cayman resident Bob Daigle is a martial arts instructor and former world champion.
The Coldwell Banker realtor is also the newly appointed FAST Defense Caribbean co-ordinator and he is pleased that the next round of FAST seminars will for the first time instruct children.
When Daigle walked on Seven Mile Beach in a bulletman outfit, kids flocked to greet him, thinking he was a superhero.
‘This month we’re launching our FAST Cats programme,’ Daigle said. ‘The Cats here stands for Children’s Assertiveness Training Stress. Ages for the training is six to 12 and what will be taught is conflict resolution, anti-bullying skills and courage training.
‘This is for kids to learn how to be assertive – not passive nor aggressive – and to de-escalate potential conflicts both in school and their everyday life.
‘Also there will be safety tips at home, stranger danger and anti-abduction training, utilising the bulletmen.
‘The anti-abduction is for situations when children are maybe on vacation and someone grabs them and we teach them the skills on how to break away and get to safety.
‘Bill and Debra are returning to train our local team so that they are able to continue the courses in Cayman when they’re not here.’
Daigle has organised two FAST Cats general population seminars where anyone can enrol their children. For that two-and-a-half hour session, involving at least four instructors, it is CI$69.
Two government schools of 25 per class will also get a chance of a FAST Cats seminar, sponsored by David Reid’s Cayman Islands Yellow Pages.
The other will be co-sponsored by Mark Scotland’s Advanced Road Construction and Paving along with Watler’s Metal Products, backed by owner Bob Watler.
‘We’ll see how the feedback pans out and see if there is more interest for this and more continuance of corporate support,’ said Daigle.
There is also one all-girl seminar for 12-17-year-olds on Saturday May 23 from 1.30pm. Teen boys can take either of the two general population basic seminars. There is also a corporate seminar where a company has sponsored all of their staff to attend.
Another seminar is defence against armed assailants. Students will be taught how to recognise dangerous situations and what to do when they occur.
Then there is a ground fighting seminar which is something that often occurs in street attacks.
‘We ran a ground fighting seminar last month and it received rave reviews.’
Three out of the four FAST Cats seminars are already completely booked. There are still places available on Saturday May 23 from 4pm.
The girls, ground fighting and armed assailants sessions are all about 50 per cent booked.
‘We expect by next week that all the seminars will be fully booked,’ added Daigle.
‘We had an incredible response from participants of the seminars we’ve had so far. We had two in March and three last month.
‘A lot of the people have said that they felt empowered, especially the women. They are much more aware of what’s out there and how to recognise dangerous situations.
‘Many have said that they’ve found the power of their own voice and the ability to be assertive and to de-escalate a situation verbally where it ends non-violently. They didn’t realise that many conflicts can be resolved with verbal skills alone.
‘The ability not to have a knee-jerk reaction, nor say the wrong thing is vital. For example, driving down the highway, someone’s riding your bumper and you slam your brakes on. Many times that ends violently. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
‘Similarly, you’re in a bar and spill a drink on someone. Instead of being aggressive or too passive, we teach how to be assertive so that the situation is resolved properly.’
FAST Defense classes are all at the Cayman Prep School in Smith Road, Georgetown. They begin from Friday, May 15 and run until Sunday May 24. Prices range from $69 for children to $99 for adults.
To book and for more information, contact Bob Daigle email: [email protected].