Finding My Inner “Ya! Ya!” at Divas in Defense

Clad in our workout best, yelling “Ya! Ya!” at the top of our lungs and pounding and kicking our imaginary attackers, we must have been quite a sight to the folks wandering around Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday morning.

“We” being my Divas in Defense cohort, a group of about 14 women of all ages who had gathered for an hour-and-a-half self-defense course.

When I moved from the suburbs of Smyrna to the city of Atlanta, I knew that I needed to take a self-defense class. The unfortunate reality is that I regularly hear about women being held up at gunpoint and robed or raped in the neighborhoods of Midtown and downtown Atlanta. I accept that this is part of living in a city — but it also means that I need to be educated on how to protect myself.

Being able to defend myself is another piece of my wellness puzzle, and for months I’ve wanted to check out the basic self-defense course offered by Divas in Defense, which the company frequently offers on Saturdays and Wednesdays. After finding a Groupon for the $35 course, I decided it was time to give it a shot.

I recruited my friend Armina for the experience (who was also able to find an online “deal” that allowed her to also take the course for a discounted price), and we headed to Centennial Olympic Park this past Saturday. What followed was a class packed with techniques for fending off an attacker — and a lot of “Ya! Yas!” at the top of our lungs. (Click here to visit the FWAB Facebook page, which features a photo gallery from the class.)

The class was led by the charismatic Cole Parker, vice president of the company. What I loved is that Cole didn’t stand around lecturing us about statistics and how women need to learn to protect themselves. No. Within the first five minutes, we were learning a defensive stance, how to yell and the best way to hit an attacker.

Next, we were broken up into teams of two to learn and practice defense techniques such as the “Twist and Shout” and the “Lean Back.” We even learned how to fend off a pissed off diva coming in for a front hair pull. (Shout out to Elizabeth for being an outstanding partner!) By the end of the class, I realized I’d not only learned some great techniques, but I’d also gotten a pretty good workout. Also, Cole told us that we’d be emailed class notes detailing all that we’d gone over so we could practice on our own (my lucky boyfriend will be forced to play the role of attacker in the near future).

I will be looking into doing future classes with the divas (they offer a gun safety course taught by an NRA-certified instructor that I am interested in). I know that this course just scratched the surface at teaching us defense strategies, but I certainly feel better equipped to deal with an attacker than I did prior to the class. Hands down, I consider this an absolute “fit” — that actually taught me how to hit!

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