Anyone who has trained with me for very long has heard me talk about the concept of RAD (Recognize, Avoid & Defend).

From a practical self-defense point of view, this concept makes perfect sense. And since a primary focus of our Martial Arts school is to be able to defend ourselves and to avoid confrontation and danger, RAD is a great way to illustrate this point, especially for younger students.

Many Utah schools incorporate RadKIDS (Resist Aggression Defensively) into their curriculum in elementary school. The RadKIDS program is the largest child safety program of its kind in the nation and provides children with hope, options, and practical skills to recognize, avoid, and if necessary, escape or respond to potential danger.

While I applaud what the program offers, allow me to share a personal experience that takes this concept a step further.

My daughter, Melanie, has studied Danzan Ryu Jujitsu her entire life. When she was in first grade she participated in RadKIDS, and the parents were invited to attend the RadKIDS graduation ceremony. As part of the graduation ceremony, the children were given the opportunity to show off what they had learned during the course.

They brought in a man in a full-body protective suit to act as the adult aggressor. One by one, the children allowed the man to approach them and then grab them. The children then demonstrated a series of attacks designed to allow them to break contact and then inflict pain on the bad guy.

When it was little Melanie’s turn to face the attacker, every time he attempted to grab her, she simply ran around and didn’t let him grab her. After several attempts to grab her, the bad guy in the full-body protective suit lost his balance and actually fell to the ground. Melanie then ran away as fast as she could. She didn’t allow the bad guy to engage her.

Melanie was the only graduate of the RadKIDS program to receive a standing ovation that day.

After the graduation ceremony, I asked Melanie why she didn’t follow the rules and allow the man to grab her. She simply said, “Daddy, you told me not to let anyone grab me, and that way I won’t have to try to escape.”