ANKENY, Iowa — These are instructions Amy Ratekin hopes her students never have to use.
“We teach them what happens if they get grabbed by the wrist, what happens if they get grabbed by the arm, what happens if someone puts them in a choke, what happens if they try to grab their clothes and pick them up,” said Ratekin, owner of COBRA Self-Defense Iowa and Spirit Taekwondo in Ankeny.
Thanks to their child abduction prevention classes, Dustin Stortz feels safer that his 8- and 6-year-old daughters in the class are equipped with options. “It gives you a little more confidence in your child’s ability and understanding of their surroundings,” said Stortz.
For nearly two weeks, 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson has been missing from his Montezuma home with no real answers behind his disappearance, making training like this sought after by Iowa parents. “They do seek us out for training,” said Ratekin. She added, “We find an uptick in that because it hits close to home. Most people don’t believe that happens in Iowa but it does.”
Real life scenarios aim to help kids and parents understand the dangers are subtle and can seem as innocent as a predator approaching a child with a stuffed animal. “Watching this perks your attention,” said Stortz. “If someone is within three feet or how to break a lock if someone grabs your kid. It’s good life skills,” he added.
The classes teach that it’s not always strangers or a man that can do harm. “The other thing parents are amazed of is when we teach them the deadly force equalizers. They can do a nose smash, they can do an eye rake. Anyone can do that and it can help save the kids,” Ratekin said.
There are moments when kids find themselves alone and that’s OK. “Kids have to have a little bit of freedom so they have to have some tools to use,” said Ratekin. They are small and simple tools that are packed with power. Ratekin said, “It’s empowering for them to know what to do. We find that if we empower the kids, they are not so afraid.”
Classes at COBRA Self-Defense Iowa are held the first Saturday of every month. You do not need to be enrolled in a martial arts class to attend.