Ball State and Muncie community instructors discuss the different fundamentals of self-defense classes for their schools

Grand Master Ron White (center) talks to a class about self defense at the White & Rymer Bushido Dojo March 14 in Muncie, Ind. Amber Pietz, DN
Grand Master Ron White (center) talks to a class about self defense at the White & Rymer Bushido Dojo March 14 in Muncie, Ind. Amber Pietz, DN

One in three. 

That’s how many women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization.

With women ages 18 to 24 in college, they are three times more likely than other women to experience sexual violence. Women at that age not in college are four times more likely, according to the Rape, Abuse, Incest Network.

However, there is a resource at Ball State University available to help women in violent situations.

Ball State’s Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Training is a four to five week program offering self-defense training for only women. Before students learn techniques, RAD educates women on threatening real-world situations, which include areas such as awareness and prevention.

Course instructor and Ball State University Police Department (UPD) Lt. Matt Gaither shares solutions to dangerous circumstances with students, such as locking doors, being aware of surroundings and trusting one’s gut feeling. 

“There’s certain things that sometimes precipitate something bad happening to somebody, and it’s something as simple as your stuff getting stolen, somebody getting in your house [or] your car [or] isolating you in your job or school,” Gaither said. 

Furthermore, Gaither understands certain aggressors take advantage of defenders in ways where they can more easily hurt them, playing a part in advocating situational awareness to RAD students.

“Bad people will find people’s weaknesses and then try to work at that weakness, so if they know you’re someone who doesn't like to tell a person ‘no,’ they will keep on that to try to isolate you away from the group,” Gaither said. “They’ll try to get to where you’re feeling apprehensive about telling them no, maybe letting the person know where you live or giving them a ride home.”

The reason why this RAD class is only for women is because separation of students by gender has remained a consistent policy, and deviation from that would go against protocol, UPD Sgt. Samaria Cooper said.

Black belt Jacqueline Rymer (left) and Grand Master Ron White (right) demonstrate how to get out of a head lock at the White & Rymer Bushido Dojo March 14 in Muncie, Ind. Amber Pietz, DN

As for the training aspect of RAD, the program focuses on sensitive areas on a male attacker’s body, like the groin, and other important factors, such as whether the attacker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, in a dynamic style with an emphasis on avoiding prolonged fights.

“A lot of the things the program teaches when you talk about a male aggressor versus a female person is going to be very dynamic,” Gaither said. “It’s going to be things that stop the person without it being an all-on fight for a long period of time because that’s just not realistic to think that.”

The techniques of RAD, ranging from joint manipulations, upper and lower body strikes and escaping grabs, complement the aspect of handling realistic, everyday situations as taught in the program’s educational stage.

“Say you’re in a bar, and somebody grabs your arm, it’s very realistic,” Cooper said. “This gives you scenarios that will potentially happen to you at some point in your life, whether it’s a simple grab or you actually are attacked.”

The program encourages female students to feel more confident in their ability to defend themselves, and for Cooper, who claims to be more introverted than extroverted, she relates to fellow women who want to participate in the RAD program but might be scared at first.

“If somebody is more of an introvert, and they see somebody like themselves becoming something else and bettering themselves, that motivates them,” Cooper said. “I was nervous to become a police officer, but it’s something I pushed through, and so I think it comes from being able to relate to other women and understanding that out of this uniform, I’m the same as them.”

Gaither said such confidence through the program comes not because of a sense of overwhelming physical strength but through simplistic yet effective techniques comprehensible for anyone. 

“What the RAD program wants to do is teach the average everyday woman who doesn't have a lot of background with martial arts some things that are going to work for them,” Gaither said. “It’s not something where you have to have weeks, months and years of training to get proficient at it, because most ordinary people don’t have the time to dedicate to a particular program.”

However, Richard Rymer, chief instructor and owner of White and Rymer’s Bushido Karate in Muncie, said self-defense is a lengthy process, with consistent training in order to obtain skills learned in classes.

The seventh-degree black belt instructor teaches karate, kickboxing and both Filipino and Okinawan weapons systems at his dojo. A weapon Rymer believes is effective doesn’t refer to the techniques one possesses, rather through discipline and compassion.

“If you go to a qualified school, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself, and a lot of those bullying tendencies [are] usually eliminated pretty quickly,” Rymer said. “The development of character and environment is our number one priority; self-defense is number two, but they go hand in hand with each other.”

Brown belt Isabell Rymer practices a front kick at the White & Rymer Bushido Dojo March 14 in Muncie, Ind. Amber Pietz, DN

From a technical standpoint, even the most basic essentials — from punching, blocking, breathing and maneuvering — all remain a part of each lesson for the growth of every student.

“Those are fundamental skills that everything else is going to be built upon, so if you’re practicing the recommended amount of time, you’re going to be able to progress fairly quickly,” Rymer said. “You’re going to have usable skills within a few months and see a noticeable difference in physical and cardiovascular behavior, but each skill that we teach builds upon the next skill … so it’s fairly easy to acquire new skills because everything’s built off the skills you’ve learned prior.”

Even though Rymer is a sensei at his dojo, he still views himself as a student, allowing him to better relate to the students he teaches.

“I was thrust upon a sense’ when I was fairly young, so I had to learn a lot as I went, and the best way that I have is to give the students the things that I knew I needed as a student,” Rymer said. “That also helps me in my character development because I have to be a living embodiment of that … because there’s nothing worse than me talking about right action for my students and me not following through with it with my own life.” 

That mindset allows for accountability from both himself and his students, preparing the entire dojo to help each other continually grow as both defenders and people.

“We work together to make better citizens by trying to strengthen character and discipline and doing things we never thought we’d be able to do,” Rymer said. “It’s kind of our own living society with many different people and many different stories trying to strive for the same thing.”

The dojo will be offering women-only classes starting March 27 at 7 p.m. The classes will be taught by Jacqueline Rymer, black belt, on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

Contact Zach Gonzalez with comments via email at or on Twitter @zachg25876998


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