FARGO — It’s as much about self empowerment as it is about self defense.
That’s one of the big takeaways from G-Force Self Defense, a sideline business for North Dakota State University police officer Gennifer Baker, who runs the women-centric classes.
“I think it’s very good information for everybody to know,” Baker said. “You have to be ready, just in case anything would happen. You’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to know where you draw the line.”
Baker, who also offers a one-credit course on the NDSU campus, employing what’s known as the Rape Aggression Defense System, wanted to offer a similar program to women off campus.
“It’s more of that ‘what if?’ scenario,” she said. “What would you do if this happens to you?”
Baker, who’s been a police officer since 2008, works on the NDSU campus as an officer with the University Police and Safety Office. She was R.A.D. trained in 2015, as part of an expansion of the NDSU classes, and she’s always been interested in the tools it provides to women.
“Statistically speaking, the more likely time that you could be potentially sexually assaulted is within that first four months of your freshman year,” Baker said, “because you’re trying to meet people, and then you might make some unwise decisions because you’re trying to make friends. It’s not beneficial, then, if that’s the higher statistic, for you to take it as a senior in college.”
While she’ll teach women of all ages who are looking to feel empowered, her off-campus venture had a particular age target in mind.
“Part of the reason I wanted to do it outside of NDSU is I want to get you before you go into college,” she said.
Rafa Medeiros, who took Baker’s class in 2016 on the NDSU campus as a graduate student, said she initially was in the mood to workout and find “something fun to do,” but quickly realized the value of what she was learning.
“Gennifer is an amazing human being,” Medeiros said. “It’s not just about punching something. There’s this whole mentality that Gennifer gives us that this is good for you. It will make you feel more aware, more confident. And, oh my gosh, it does.”
G-Force Defense doesn’t stress bodily harm. The opposite, in fact. The knee-cap strikes, blocks and kicks are techniques aimed at using your body to stop an aggressor, giving women the opportunity to remove themselves to safety. And, far from physical – Baker said the simple moves can be done by anyone from the ages of 14 to 90 – there’s a psychological aspect, too.
Cassandra Coghill, who took Baker’s class as an undergraduate at NDSU, said as a survivor of sexual and domestic violence she found it healing and empowering, offering her the opportunity to develop self-confidence and faith in her ability to protect herself and be safe.
“The thing about Gennifer’s teaching style that’s really unique and helpful is that she doesn’t just teach you how to protect and defend yourself,” Coghill said via Facebook Messenger. “She literally programs you, both body and mind, first to know that you are capable of keeping yourself safe and then to physically do it, automatically, in any situation where there is real danger.”
While G-Force Defense doesn’t yet have its own designated space, Baker said she’ll be flexible about traveling within the Fargo-Moorhead area. Rates, locations and availability may vary. Participants, however, must be at least 14 years old. There’s no age limit.