Rape aggression defense (R.A.D.) or other self-defense classes - Are they available at Columbia?

Originally Published: October 11, 2002 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 7, 2014
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Hi Alice,

Where can I go for a RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class in Columbia University?

Dear Reader,

The Rape Aggression Defense system, or R.A.D., is a comprehensive course that instructs women in self-defense techniques and tactics for the real world. Available throughout the United States and Canada, R.A.D. programs teach women of all ages and abilities the skills and knowledge they would need to protect themselves. Educational, interactive, and participatory, the topics covered include awareness and prevention basics, risk reduction and risk avoidance preparation, and hands-on training in self-defense. R.A.D. program schedules and fees vary by type of course. For more information, or to find a R.A.D. course near you, check the R.A.D. website. Although some universities and colleges offer R.A.D. programs on their campuses, Columbia University does not. There are, however, instructors in the New York City area and the website lists the most up-to-date directory of NYC instructors.

Columbia's Dodge Fitness Center offers for credit Karate classes each semester for undergraduate students. Although the classes are not self-defense in focus, they can help build self-confidence, strength, and flexibility. Columbia also has Club Sports, such as Aikido, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Goju Ryu, Moy Yee Kung Fu, Shotokan Karate, and Tae Kwon Do, which are open to all students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Club Sports center on athletic interest, from recreational to instructional to competitive activity, and require membership fees to keep running. More on these options can be found at the Club Sports Office at 331 Dodge Fitness Center or by dialing (212) 854-4002 .

While there is likely no harm in a person learning strategies for self-defense, programs like R.A.D. are no substitute for continuing efforts to prevent assaults and other forms of violence in society. Some have even postulated that self-defense classes can create a false sense of security in some participants. Further, since these efforts fail to recognize that the majority of sexual assaults are by an acquaintance, the techniques covered may only really be useful in a surprise attack type of situation.

Have you looked into the many efforts at Columbia dedicated to preventing sexual violence? There are a variety of different workshops and involvement opportunities for both students and faculty/staff offered that address such topics as supporting survivors of sexual assault, being a first responder or a bystander to an assault, intimate partner violence, unlearning rape myths, and risk–reduction strategies. Check out the Sexual Violence Response website for information about sexual violence prevention workshops and other opportunities to help make campus a healthier and safer place for all.


October 18, 2002

Dear Alice, While it isn't specifically designed as a system for rape prevention, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most effective and practical ways of defending yourself one-on-one. BJJ is a...
Dear Alice, While it isn't specifically designed as a system for rape prevention, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most effective and practical ways of defending yourself one-on-one. BJJ is a martial art that teaches you how to control and neutralize someone who's larger and stronger, both on your feet and on the ground. If you train seriously for a few months, you'll be able to take just about anybody, and knowing that, you'll project enough confidence to make potential attackers think twice before messing with you. After studying BJJ for a while, I feel much more confident in my ability to handle myself in any situation. Give it a try!