If a woman is attacked, her survival time is limited to the length of time she can hold her breath. If her blood supply is cut off, a woman only has 3 to 5 seconds before she starts to black out.

Those are two lessons taught by Steve Ledford, an instructor of Women’s Total Self Defense, a four-hour class taught at the Ardennes Neighborhood Center, June 20.

Army Community Service offers the class at various Fort Bragg neighborhood centers in partnership with Corvias Military Living and with Ledford’s company, Asheville Integrated Initiatives of Asheville, N.C.

The class is offered monthly to teach women how to defend themselves and to make them feel safer during their husband’s deployments, said Robert Shaw, Family Advocacy Program.

Women are taught skills such as how to maintain awareness of people and surroundings, how to strike at targets and how to mentally prepare for a fight instead of panicking.

“We teach this stuff because we find it works under pressure,” Ledford said.

Heather French, an Army spouse, who recently moved to Fort Bragg with two-young children, said she took the class to learn ways to protect herself and her Family.

“It’s a lot of good information. It’s common sense. We just forget it in a lot of scenarios,” French said.

Vera Skasik, another Fort Bragg Family member, said she also took the class to explore options to defend herself and her children.

Tips that Ledford gave the women were to strike vulnerable target areas such as the eyes, throat or groin; if an attacker uses speed, use more speed than he or she does; and fight in the opposite direction of an attack by using the push versus pull technique — if an attacker pulls, a woman pushes and vice versa.

“The strongest person wins the battle,” he explained.

Often, women have to contend against potential kidnapping or rape, he explained.

If a woman is attacked from behind, one method of self-defense is to use her hips and legs to initiate movement to the side. Another is to squat and sink the center of gravity, which makes getting picked up and carried off from behind much more difficult, Ledford said.

Having an idea of how to protect oneself can make the difference in any situation, said Alicia Ortiz-Velez, also an Army spouse.

Besides learning defense techniques, taking the class has other advantages, Shaw said.

“It’s good exercise and they form relationships or friendships, too,” he said.

The next Women’s Total Self Defense classes will be offered:

July 11, at the Clubhouse at Linden Oaks
  Aug. 15, at Nijmegen Neighborhood Center
  Sept. 19, at Hammond Hills Neighborhood Center. 

All times are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is free, limited childcare for Child, Youth and School Services registered attendees.

For more information, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com or call 396-5521.