Tough as Nails Women’s Self-Defense Classes

Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter

Over 13 years ago, Mike Cole began teaching women’s self-defense classes at the Walker County Sheriff’s Department Training Facility. 

Mike has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 49 years and is now a part-time cold case investigator and defense tactics instructor. He hosts Tough as Nails Women’s Self-Defense Classes around four times yearly, during high-risk times such as the holidays or college move-in days. 

“Women often become victims, whether it be a carjacking, a purse snatching, or assault, and then there is potentially a secondary crime involved, such as rape,” says Mike.

The classes are open to ages 17 and up, as they cover a lot of adult content on situational awareness using a PowerPoint presentation, handout material, and demonstrations. Mike and his partner teach three ways to escape the most common dangerous situations; attendees then get to practice these moves. Mike says the point is to teach women ways to remain in control of situations where they may not be physically dominant. 

The cost to attend is free, and anyone interested in registering can call the Sherriff’s Department or go to this link. Because of limited space, some registrations will be waitlisted and contacted first for the next class.

In the meantime, Mike shares some safety tips: 

  • Check for mile markers and road signs. If you must call 911, you can be more precise in giving your location and direction of travel.
  • Be aware of your surroundings in parking lots. Predators will watch where you park and know if you are by yourself. They can then wait outside your car and carjack, abduct, or assault you.
  • When you stop behind a vehicle at a traffic light, keep a proper distance between your car and the one in front of you. If you must take action, you can maneuver your way out of the situation. 

“Have a plan because any plan is better than no plan. We bring these things to their attention and make them realize how easy it is to get their mindset away from looking out for themselves,” says Mike. “It’s really rewarding to me that they’re listening to the things I talk about, to know that I’m helping them, and to see that they’re practicing and remembering.” WL

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