When and how did you start training in the self-defense/martial arts industry/fitness industry?
I found COBRA with a Groupon. I started training under Chris Sutton and Thomas Aydelott in May of 2014 by joining their 10 week Academy #63. I had several reasons; I was tired of living in fear and didn’t want my kids falling victim to a crime like I did when I was younger, I was looking for an activity that we could all do together during our homeschooling summer break,
I was planning to audition again for the TV show Survivor, and as a Foster Parent, I always felt like a soft target with a van full of kids and no way to protect them. I wanted my kids and me to know how to realistically protect ourselves in today’s world. COBRA was a great fit.
How has COBRA impacted you personally?
COBRA has impacted me tremendously!
When my oldest daughter and I started our first 10 week academy, we enjoyed every class and left wanting more. Chris was such an exciting instructor! He advertised a “Police Academy for Civilians” and made us feel like we were part of a top secret group, getting insider information about the “bad guys”, and that even I, a housewife, really could take them down! I never missed a class. I was nervous about doing scenarios, especially The Flurry, because it caused flash-backs, but I overcame my fears a bit more each time.
Then, during the final Matrix exam, Chris got me in a bear-hold so tightly, that one of my ribs broke as I struggled to escape! I never had a broken bone before and didn’t realize it until the next day. When I told Chris, he said “so you broke your own rib while trying to hurt me?” Well, that was an interesting way to see it, but…what did I expect? This was the real world that I had been afraid of for so long. I wanted to quit. But my kids were watching, so I faced my fears, enrolled both my boys, and I took the whole program again – with a broken rib.
I studied hard, never missed a class, started personal training with Mark McKay and earned my first Top Gun award! My confidence and fitness level soared.
I continued kickboxing, resistance training and signed up as a “lifer”, taking every class Chris offered. I was hooked! Chris recognized this and approached me about becoming an instructor. I accepted, got certified and assisted Tom with every single 10 week academy since – twelve and counting. At the same time, I was moving up the 9 levels of belt ranks in the adult martial arts class. One weekend, I watched two students take a black belt test and thought, I could NEVER do that! I’m too old. Never say never!
After years of training, on May 7th, 2016 at the age of 47, I was the first in my family and the oldest woman to date, to get a CFS Black Belt under Chris Sutton! Four months later, my youngest son Jory was the youngest person in the adult class to get his Black Belt as well (and the last one to test under Chris). Today, Jory and I teach the Juniors and CFS classes at the Clearwater location with Matt DiPietro. (As of May 2018, I’m also teaching the same academy that I started in). My husband and all of our kids have taken various classes and we assist in teaching everything COBRA. A family that kicks together, sticks together!
When I finished my first academy, I told Chris that I would be affiliated with COBRA for life. I meant it. COBRA allowed me to step out of my bubble of fear and LIVE again. I wish I knew all of this years ago, but now my kids know it, and their life stories will be different. That’s priceless.
What are your training goals for the next 3 years?
I plan to be a lifetime student of CFS and COBRA Fit. I have obtained my 300+ hours toward my 2nd degree black belt, so that might be next. Then, God willing, on to 3rd degree. Every day is training day!
I’ve also found a new love for teaching COBRA, so I hope to continue instilling valuable information to any student that comes my way.
What do you enjoy most about being a Self-Defense Instructor?
I enjoy being able to teach personal safety and real self-defense. I see kids in our program who have been bullied and meet adults who have experienced trauma. I can show them effective solutions. They learn to be more aware, get away, or how to fight when needed. COBRA trainings and scenarios help build muscle memory so victims won’t freeze with fear, like I once did. It’s satisfying to know that students leave with more confidence, a higher self esteem and knowledge of useful life skills. They learn that their safety matters and there is something they can do about it!
If you only had 5 minutes to train someone what would be the most valuable survival skills you would teach them?
In 5 minutes, I would teach situational and exit awareness, trying to talk your way out, deadly force equalizers, never get relocated and being prepared to fight to the death.
If someone was interested in joining as a COBRA Instructor/School what would you tell them?
If you want your business or training to be kicked up a notch, attain a gold standard, reach excellence and make a difference in the world, then COBRA is for you.