Flight crews learn defense skills

An Anchorage martial arts club is offering self-defense classes to airlines for the protection of flight crews, passengers and airplanes.

About 18 pilots and flight attendants from Era Aviation Inc. have completed the "proportionate response and diffusion tactics program’’ offered by the Kung-Fu San Soo Center.

"After Sept. 11, I felt it was something the company could do to alleviate some concerns,’’ said Paul Landis, senior vice president of Era Aviation. "To my way of thinking, it’s been money well spent.’’

The training is voluntary for Era flight crews and is funded by the company.

"We’re not forcing anybody to do this, but we’re certainly open to continuing training,’’ Landis said.

"I’ve had some excellent feedback,’’ Landis said. "Cabin crews are feeling more comfortable in the back of an airplane.’’

The 21-hour course is being taught by Bruce Bibee and Ted Stickel, masters of kung-fu san soo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu is a self-defense art of grasping or striking an opponent so that his own strength and weight are used against him. Translated, kung-fu san soo means "man working to become proficient with his hands and feet in combat.’’

Bibee also works as an anger management and substance abuse counselor, and Stickel is a security specialist.

Stickel and assistant instructors gave a demonstration Nov. 27 to members of the Anchorage Air Cargo Association.

Among the techniques shown was a choke hold that can render someone unconscious in less than 3 seconds.

The seven, three-hour sessions being offered provide flight crews with mental and physical training to control a dangerous situation either by voice or by force.

As part of the training, flight crews are shown techniques ranging from restraining to "doing harm and incapacitating a person,’’ Stickel said. The training takes place in confined areas to simulate the inside of an airplane’s cabin or cockpit. Flight crews are put in situations where they have to deal with an armed terrorist, an aggressive intoxicated passenger, or a passenger that may be attacking another.

Controlling a dangerous situation does not always involve physical contact, said Stickel, who has won gold and silver medals in international martial arts competitions.

"There are a lot of ways to de-escalate a situation besides physical force,’’ Stickel said. "There is a lot of power in voice.’’

Knowing how to appropriately diffuse a situation creates the courage to do so, Stickel said.

"Confidence,’’ Stickel said, "is the biggest ally in a stress situation.’’

12/09/2001 - 8:00pm