The fluorescent light shines down illuminating the room and emphasizing the orange tint of the girl’s long curly hair. Behind her is a floor length mirror that aligns the wall and runs the length of room, reflecting everything.
“No! No! No,” echoed off its naked walls as the girl threw up her hands, warding off the offender. The offender stood motionless, its uninhabited eyes glared down at her. The girl then thrust her right hand upward, her palm connecting with the offender’s rubber nose, its head snapping back before returning to its original position.
Cindy Coughenour, the Fearless Female class instructor standing next to the self- defense dummy congratulates the girl on the hit before scooting the dummy in front of the next female in line.
Coughenour, teaches female self-defense classes at Tyler Junior College through out the semester in Ornelas Health and Physical Education Center. Coughenour graduated from the Model Mugging program with training and certification by the American Women’s Self Defense Association. Traveling all over the United States, Coughenour has taught females, ranging from girl scouts to senior citizens, how to defend themselves if ever attacked.
“When you leave here tonight you will not be a street fighting ninja,” said Coughenour.
The techniques and maneuvers Coughenour teaches her female students are specifically meant for women. After asking friends in law enforcement to teach her some moves, she realized that maneuvers that worked for men do not necessary work for women due to strength, height and weight differences.
However, even after teaching her student several different moves she warned them that sometimes when in a scary position a person might forget exactly how to do something.
“You do whatever it takes to survive,” said Coughenour.
If a person reaches a point where they don’t know what to do Coughenour advises them to do whatever comes naturally.
“I tell my girl scouts to do whatever they can. Scream, kick, wiggle, make it as hard as you can on the offender,” said Coughenour.
The need to learn to defend herself and her passion to work in the profession came form an incident that occurred while attending Wichita State University. Julie Marie Ladd, Coughenour’s childhood neighbor and friend who was also attending Wichita State University was murdered in her dormitory basement by an intruder. Coughenour teaches this class in memory of her fallen friend.
A student attending the Fearless Female class on March 20 also had a personal reason for learning how to defend herself.
Leandra Combs, 21, and her fiancé were robbed while sitting in their parked car at a public park in Springfield, Missouri where she attends college. After having a woman knock on her window, Combs opened the door.
“She punched me in the face and past that point I didn’t know what to do,” said Combs.
The woman then demanded Combs had over her purse. In addition to the women a man was stationed behind the car during the robbery. Dazed and frightened, Combs handed over the purse.
“I felt completely helpless. I actually couldn’t sleep for weeks … had to get sleep medication to actually be able to sleep because as soon as I fell asleep I would replay it over and over again,” said Combs.
The perpetrators were arrested shortly after the robber while trying to use Combs’ credit cards to pay for gas just down the road from the assault.
“I thought it was important to have the skills to take care of ourselves when we are out at night or alone or even in our own homes sometimes,” said Sara Combs, 68.
For more information, visit fearlessandfemale.com or contact Cindy Coughenour directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. To attend the Fearless Female class at TJC in the Ornelas Health and Physical Education Center on April 24, register online at TJC Continuing Studies website or over the phone at 903-510-2900.