Brac embraced it really FAST

There
are around 1,500 people living in Cayman Brac, everyone knows each other and a
strong community spirit exists. It is one of the safest places in the Caribbean,
yet danger can strike there just like anywhere in the world.

Brackers
tend to travel overseas often where the threat of mugging, abduction and casual
violence are an everyday worry. So when the island was offered a series of FAST
Defence seminars last weekend, many jumped at the chance.

FAST
Defense seminars last between two and three hours and first timers generally
say they learn more in that session than a lifetime of gleaning information
from a multitude of informal sources.

Fast
Adrenal Self Defence was devised by American martial arts expert Bill Kipp over
20 years ago and he travels the world with his wife Debra giving seminars. They
introduced it to Grand Cayman last year through local karate instructor Bob
Daigle and they proved so popular that Daigle now takes seminars independently
along with his team of ‘bulletmen’, instructors in padded suits who show
students how to most effectively strike an assailant if the need arises.

The
Brac trip and seminars were sponsored and organised by the Layman and Martha
Scott family, particularly Jude Scott who is a retired partner of Ernst &
Young and now chairman of Cayman Airways. Pastor Joel Scott and his wife Marlyn
of the Crossroads Baptist Church ensured plenty turned up at the hall behind
the Fellowship Baptist Church which was kindly donated for the cause.

FAST
Defense classes simulate realism like no other of its type. Uniquely, students
are taught conflict resolution skills on how to defuse situations before they
become violent. They use the power of their voices to ward off potential
assaults. “Bullies may they be young or full grown adults look for easy prey.
We teach the student how not to look like a victim,” says Daigle. assaults.”

The
bulletmen ‘woof’ (taunt and verbally intimidate) their potential victims in an
effort to simulate real life.

First
class is for children. Nineteen kids take part in the very powerful seminar. A
few are a little reserved and one in particular is so shy that she bursts into
tears when encouraged to join in. The experience initially is a little too
daunting for her.

With
a little encouragement from her father and instructors, she successfully and
confidently finishes the session. “This is the course we all should have taken
when we were young,” Daigle says. “We’re going to have fun!” A chorus of cheers
and little high fives are traded.

The
main theme of FAST CATS seminars is to teach anti-bullying techniques,
something many children encounter but rarely learn how to deal with
effectively. By the end of the session, the shy child of two hours earlier is
using her voice to back away the bully. Also covered in the FAST CATS seminar
is an anti-abduction segment teaching children how to recognise and deal with
an adult predator. Children learn how to verbally back down the adult predator
and are also taught how to break free of their grasp.

Then
it’s the turn of the teens. Ten girls and five boys.

Geoff
Scott, 13, has a timid voice. Daigle ‘woofs’ him repeatedly but to his credit,
the youngster does not break down nor turn away. As is often the case in these
seminars, the tiniest girls pick up the response and fighting techniques the
best. The boys, typically, presume their size and masculinity is an advantage,
but in a street attack that is rarely the case. Daigle uses examples of big men
he has taught in Cayman who fight like pussycats and small women who could
grapple with lions because they ‘flip the switch’ far better using their voices
and adrenal rush to best effect.

The
overall response at the end is an overwhelming feel-good factor of enthusiasm
and boosted confidence from the kids.

The
adult class the next day includes three men and 16 women. Jude Scott participates,
along with Jonathan Parchment, son of boxing coach Donie Anglin. Also in the
class is Myfanwy ‘Myffie’ Scott, Jude’s niece. She is the one who organised
most of the weekend activities along with Jude.

After
watching themselves on video, the vibe in the seated circle that they form on
the mat – provided at heavily discounted rate by Paramount Carpets – is
positive throughout.

Scott
thanks Cayman Airways before and after each seminar for their role in the
successful seminar weekend. He says he has never thought much about spacial
awareness nor tunnel vision, important components in warding off a potential
attacker.

He
adds: “I was absolutely thrilled for my daughters. Both of them have grown up
to be very reserved and that was evident in Lauryn that she was very timid and
the programme, I think, really sparked and ignited her confidence. It was tremendous.
As a parent, watching her transformation, it was what we really dreamed for our
kids to happen.

“I
thought it was really nice how disciplined and focused it was. It wasn’t
complicated, so easy to catch on and I liked the way the kids motivated each
other.

“I
thought it was all absolutely fantastic and I feel really blessed that we were
able to put it on here in Cayman Brac. This was really a whole Scott family
effort. My dad Layman Emmiel Scott Snr was formerly the first principal of the
high school here so the roots go back a tremendously long time. And my mother,
Martha, she’s from the Brac and moved back here a few years ago and is very
involved in the community. And whenever we do things we want to focus on it as
a family. We want people to recognise that this place is important to us. We’re
proud of the people we’ve developed here in the Brac and we constantly want to
give back.”

Along
with Daigle were bulletmen Troy O’Neil and Lance Jefferson and coaches Risa
Golberg-Ebanks and Paulino Rodrigues.

One
Jamaican woman, a security guard at Cayman Brac airport, says she will use this
invaluable lesson in her everyday work. A student says that she recently almost
got attacked overseas at night by a menacing man who wanted her to get into his
car and she is now more confident she can handle the situation better if it
happens again.

Another
young woman endears herself to the group by admitting that she always worries
for her friends and family when they leave Brac, even for Grand Cayman, and she
wants them all to take a FAST class. Parchment says that he went into instinct
mode when he encountered the bulletmen and he can see the value of raising his
adrenaline level in the way animals do when they prepare for battle.

All
in all, it was a marvellous weekend and absolutely everyone agreed that they
would like to do more classes and will recommend FAST to as many Brackers as
possible.

 The next FAST Defence seminar is a FAST CATS
anti-bullying seminar on Friday 9 July at Fitness Connection from 5-7pm for
6-12 year old children. To book, contact Fitness Connection on 949-8485 or [email protected]
or [email protected] of [email protected] Fitness Connection is also sponsoring
two foster children to take the course.  

SPORTSbracSTORY

The kids thoroughly enjoyed grappling with the bulletmen.
Photo: RON SHILLINGFORD
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