Bill is the biggest loser

Bill Kipp should be in the Guinness World of Records as the undisputed king of biggest losers.

Not body weight, mind; he has lost at least 50,000 fights as a martial arts instructor.

Poor recommendation to attract students yet for the last 21 years Kipp has travelled the world espousing the benefits of FAST Defense, his personalised form of self-defense.

Despite its longevity Fear Adrenal Stress Training is only just reaching the public consciousness levels it deserves. There is a website www.fastdefense.us and representatives in Europe, but it still has a lot of scope to reach the masses.

That’s because Kipp has been happy to just earn a comfortable living until now giving seminars and selling books and DVDs on FAST Defense.

But the realisation that FAST Defense can make a significant impact on whole societies is fuelling a greater awareness and demand.

The Cayman Islands has warmed to it so much that a third series of FAST Defense classes were just completed having only been initially introduced here in March.

Kipp and wife Debra Thomas have taught worldwide and have 60 successful FAST teams based in the United States. With the right promotion and marketing it can grow exponentially.

In Cayman Kipp and Thomas want to ‘Empower a Nation’ so that all 60,000 residents live more harmoniously and respectfully. It’s working.

FAST Defense seminars are three-hour long sessions patronised mostly by women but men, teens and children enjoy it too.

The ethos of FAST practitioners is to be empowered. They learn from the heavily suited instructors, aka, ‘bulletmen’, where and how to hit hardest to maximise impact if attacked.

Before the bulletmen phase, there is plenty of instruction and attacks by ‘woofers’, instructors imitating real-life scary scenarios.

Kipp and Thomas have studied the psychology of predators and even talked to inmates in the toughest prisons to understand their mindset.

They’ve found that attackers want easy prey and people who put up little or no resistance. FAST Defense is an effective counter balance. Testimonials prove it.

Students warm to FAST because it is relatively quick to learn. No going to martial arts classes for ever. Students say attending one FAST class could save a life or at least equips them better for an assault.

Students are taught the best verbal skills and body language to ward off a potential attack. If necessary and they have to ‘flip the switch’, they get to unleash their fury on the bulletmen. (If all else fails, ‘run fu’ is accepted!)

Cayman’s FAST Defense seminars were the idea of Bob Daigle, former martial arts world champion, instructor and entrepreneur. He attended a Kipp class in the US years ago and always wanted to introduce it to Cayman. Daigle is now the Caribbean director of FAST Defense. He is recruiting the corporate community and the government to support FAST Defense.

Kipp, 51, has the easy going manner of anyone’s favourite friend or relative.

But don’t be fooled by the disarming smile and laid back delivery – he is a trained killer in the nicest possible way.

A former US Marine with the Recon Unit, stuntman, bodyguard and bouncer, what he doesn’t know about armed and weapon combat is not worth considering.

His work spans over 25 years of teaching, certifying self defence and its gained much kudos, including the prestigious Black Belt Magazine Industry award for ‘Best Women’s Program’ in 2006.

Kipp’s book Turning Fear into Power (Paladin Press) is a bestseller. Warriors: On Living with Courage, Discipline, and Honor (Paladin Press) is also essential reading.

Thomas, 55, is originally from Lake Zurich near Wisconsin. She is a certified personal trainer with 25 years experience in the health industry.

She founded the innovative 90-Day Life Coaching program; A Woman’s Epic Journey, assertiveness training to help women take charge of their lives. She should know, having been in abusive relationships early on.

Kipp’s thirst for learning self defence was fuelled from childhood in Connecticut when he was consistently physically abused by an older brother. Regular beatings was a way of life.

At a time when Bruce Lee was in his element, it was inevitable martial arts would be his modus operandi. That led to a military career and eventually FAST Defense.

Four children’s classes were given on their last visit to Cayman, including Savannah Primary and Prospect Primary.

They were taught FAST Cats (Children’s Assertiveness Training Stress), things like how to deal with potential abduction, bullying and conflict resolution from other kids.

‘They loved it,’ says Kipp. ‘The response from the parents and especially from the principals of the schools that we taught at has been incredible.

‘In fact we met with the Parents and Teachers Association of Savannah School and talked about getting more of their children trained. That was the only spontaneous applause in the whole meeting.

‘We’ve found that there’s an incredible amount of relief from the teachers and principals.

‘Now we have some resources to deal with these kids, they say the bullying can be stopped. The kids can be more respectful to one another and certainly more respectful to the teachers.

‘I think the next big thing in the campaign is to train the teachers so that they can learn to have more control on these children when they act out.’

The dynamic duo returned to Boulder, Colorado last week to give a three-day courage course in the Rocky Mountains. They’ll be back to Cayman for more seminars at the end of June.

And Kipp will take a few more beatings to make him an even bigger loser.

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