Culture writer learns self defense at UVM class


Mary McLellan

Liz Learned, an investigator for Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, demonstrates self-defense techniques, Feb. 25. Learned has been teaching R.A.D. since 2016.

Anna Kolosky, Culture Columnist

The room echoed with shouts of “No” as women stood in a circle practicing strikes, kicks and blocks.
Their stances were strong, their power filled the room, and it felt amazing to be a part of it.

R.A.D., or Replicating Adverse Dynamics, is a self-defense course for female-identifying people offered by UVM Police.
The first day I attended was a PowerPoint presentation led by Liz Learned, an investigator with the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations. Learned became a certified R.A.D. instructor in 2016 and has been teaching the course since.
“I’ve always been drawn to women’s self-defense,” Learned said. “I love this course because it helps women gain confidence and feel empowered.”
R.A.D. tries to offer their courses each semester for a total of 12 hours, Learned said. This session was only nine hours long as the last portion needed a larger staff to run defense scenarios.
“We haven’t always been able to, but I try to make sure that we’re able to staff it, because our community benefits from it,” Learned said.
R.A.D. is free, and students can enroll by emailing [email protected] when a session is offered. Clubs can work with R.A.D. to do events together, Learned said.
“We did an event with the swim team a while back,” Learned said. “We’re open to anyone who wants to collaborate, you just have to send us an email.”
On the second day, we practiced defensive positions, strikes and kicks. Yelling a stern “No” with each movement, I felt powerful.
UVM police officer Chris Coyner became a certified R.A.D. instructor in 2009 and believes that the class encourages women to stand up for themselves.
“The most important thing I’ve found from this class is how empowered women feel,” Coyner said. “This class has been especially amazing. Your voices and power are just so incredible.”
On the first day, my voice was quiet, but by the last day, I was yelling as loud as I could.
“My best and favorite advice from this class is to use your voice,” Learned said. “It keeps you breathing and helps you realize that you are in control and have power.”
Sophomore Sam Lacey found R.A.D. to be extremely insightful, she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning some basic self-protection moves,” Lacey said. “It’s a really helpful, not super tough course that shows you how strong of a person you are.”
At the end of the nine hours, R.A.D. felt like a community made up of hard-working women.
Although we didn’t get to do the scenarios this time, I’m looking forward to going back to R.A.D. to complete the program later this spring.