SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It’s a program that teaches more than eye-gouging and a well-placed knee.
It starts with what you know — or even what you don’t. The new “F8” program is meant to equip women with the moves and knowledge to be ready for a variety of situations.
Run by a team of fitness gurus and members of local law enforcement, it is meant to train the mind and body for situational self-defense across an 8-week course.
Julie Ast is in the first ever group of 10 women to go through the program, and they are currently in week two. For Ast, it’s about making sure she is ready for anything.
“I have heard stories from other friends, acquaintances, and things that have happened to maybe them or their daughter. I don’t want to be a victim, and I certainly don’t want any family members to become victims,” says Ast.
One of the instructors is Matt Brown, who is a member of local law enforcement. He says this is not the average self-defense class.
“When you look at a women’s self-defense class, usually those are like one day, two-day events. Everybody high fives each other and leaves. This is not what that is,” Brown says. “We roll up a series of classes that we want them sit through that teaches them not to be a victim. What does that look like, what does that sound like, what does that feel like?”
Brown and other members of law enforcement break down certain crime trends and things they see, which is meant to help make the women more aware of their surroundings.
“We’re talking about what we see on the streets day in and day out that they can expect to fall into. What are those traps, and how do they get out of that?” Brown says.
The Manager of F8 is Angie Hart-Dodson, who brings to the table a career in fitness and yoga. Her goal is to help women get in shape for the techniques they’ll be using.
“We’re getting the body stressed. Giving them eight movements through a circuit, hit training interval. Getting their heart rate up, and then putting them in situations where they go and they get to practice self-defense moves.”
Once the students have the blood pumping, instructors will then show them moves they may need in a dangerous situation. F8 prepares women for an attack, but also a variety of uncomfortable situations.
“What do you look for in somebody that is giving you signs that they could see you as a victim? How do you handle yourself if you’re out in public? What if you’re grabbed inappropriately? All of those scenarios lead up to the worst-case scenario, which we train for extensively,” Brown says.
The course also features training on how to use intermediate weapons such as mace, and even does firearms training. In the final week of the program, the students will actually fight an instructor, who will be wearing a padded suit.
The F8 building sits at 2048 S. Stewart Ave in Springfield. The eight-week course costs $350.