On Monday, June 8, Dr. Clifford Thomas (We Lead By Example, Inc./Tae Kwon Do Ramblers Self-Defense Systems) held Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop at Bladensburg Community Center. We become more vulnerable as we grow older and often face increasing difficulties relative to our age and decreasing physical abilities. Dr. Thomas is a world-renown safety and self-defense expert who takes these factors into account and works extensively with seniors to teach them street smarts so they will become more confident and feel more comfortable in their daily interactions and activities. With audience participation, he showed several simple self-defense techniques--how to escape from a chokehold, defend yourself from a knife being held at your throat, break free from someone who grabs your wrists, and use a cane to defend yourself--as well as performed skits with one of his adult students and an audience member about abduction and scam/theft situations, for example, in the parking lot at a grocery store or at a gas station. The Bladensburg (POFC David Calloway, Officer Garcia, and Ms. Dana Duncan) and District II (Officer Krystal Culbreth) police representatives briefly described the services they provide for seniors and distributed safety and crime-reporting materials. Participants left wanting to learn more about how they can empower themselves so they will feel more safe as they go about their very active lives.
Online and Print Newspaper Coverage: The June 12 Andrews Gazette first-published article is featured online in All About Martial Arts news at this link and on page 5 of the Andrews Gazette print edition at this link . A pdf document can be downloaded here. Story and photos are by photojournalist Bobby Jones.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on June 1. He spoke briefly about his upcoming Senior Safety and Self-Defense Workshop to be held at Bladensburg Community Center on June 8, and demonstrated with his assistant a few simple self-defense moves using a cane, as well as a way to escape from a chokehold.
CTV taped an interview with Dr. Thomas at Bladensburg Community Center that aired on CTV News on September 27. He spoke briefly about bullying prevention and child sexual abuse prevention and the second annual Walk and Rally for October's National Bullying Prevention Month being held by We Lead By Example, Inc., at Bladensburg Community Center on October 1.
Dr. Thomas was interviewed live on CTV News on September 14. He spoke about bullying prevention and child sexual abuse prevention and promoted the third annual Walk and Rally for October's National Bullying Prevention Month being held by We Lead By Example, Inc., at Bladensburg Community Center on October 7. He expressed his concern that not enough is being done in the schools to train children how to deal with bullies and refuse the advances of predators, citing the increasingly rampant uptick of these dangerous behaviors in recent years. See the interview at this link.
Councilwoman Aretha Stephenson convenes monthly meetings at the Seat Pleasant Community Center to keep in touch with and motivate Seat Pleasant residents to become involved and to work together to make improvements in their community. She invited Dr. Thomas to come to the Thursday, May 23, meeting to give a practical self-defense demonstration, talk about street smarts, and discuss important safety issues that affect both apartment and single-family unit dwellers in Seat Pleasant. It was a lively and productive session, and Dr. Thomas appreciated the opportunity to share a meaningful dialogue about safety concerns with the community members who attended.
Dr. Thomas provided a self-defense training seminar for the Celebrating Moms Expo! conference on Sunday, May 5, that rocked the house. Hundreds of women attended the expo that was convened to celebrate and thank Mom for her unconditional love and support. Fabulous exhibitors showed and sold their products and others provided helpful information geared toward women. In addition to Dr. Thomas' session, other free seminars highlighted the event and included Total Woman Wellness; Moms Rock! Fashion Show; Simply Shirley Comedy Show; Belly Dancing with Marie James of Soul Redemption; and other speakers, including a fireman who lost three sisters to breast cancer and has organized his own fight against the disease by creating an organization to help breast cancer patients and their families in all aspects of dealing with the disease and its effects. Attendees of all ages actively participated in the self-defense demonstration and took part in the discussion. Entertained and enlightened, they left the session more keenly aware of the importance of women being able to protect themselves from harm in simple, yet effective, ways. Dr. Thomas appreciated being asked to be a part of this important event, which is helping the House of Ruth Maryland through donating a portion of the proceeds. For additional information on the House of Ruth Maryland, access this link.
On Saturday, April 13, Dr. Thomas and his black-belt instructor, Ms. Whitney Brogsdale, spoke about safety awareness and demonstrated simple self-defense methods at the Kelsey Temple Church of God in Christ Y.W.E. Workshop. Ms. Brogsdale also showed her skills by doing two impressive martial arts forms. This workshop was designed to teach young women the importance of developing self esteem--the acceptance, respect, confidence and satisfaction that one has in oneself as a person, based on an internal image of oneself that is both conscious and subconscious--through positive self images and awareness. Becoming street smart and knowing how to protect oneself are part of the toolset in the development of confidence.
Dr. Thomas thanks the Rambler students who came out to represent at the Beltway Plaza Mall's Fashion Bug store in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday, July 13. The students' excellent performance drew the attention of shoppers in the mall, and a number of people, including families with their children, stopped in their tracks to watch it. They were quite impressed by the Rambler student skills. It will not be at all surprising to see several new students sign up for the new 8-week session or attend the August 2012 Rambler bullying prevention summer camp. The shoppers who went into the Fashion Bug to take advantage of Girls Night Out sales included some of the Rambler parents and students. The chance to do a little bit of shopping topped off the evening and helped make the event a big success all around!
Several Rambler students gave a martial arts and self-defense demonstration for the Port Towns Elementary School's College, Career, and Resource Night for Students and Parents on Thursday, May 31. Seeing the martial arts skills of the Rambler students was a treat for the audience of about 40 children and parents. But Dr. Thomas's interactive demonstration of how easy it is for an unauthorized person to abduct a child as he or she is leaving school came as a surprise for the group. This underscores the need for parents and responsible adults to be informed and for the children to be taught and practice how to defend themselves in a variety of situations.
Councilmember Aretha Stephenson of Seat Pleasant hosted a crime prevention meeting at Seat Pleasant City Hall on May 23. Dr. Thomas was featured and spoke about crime and other safety concerns in the community. With assistance from three young people attending with their parents and grandparents, he did skits about bullying on the bus and about gang- and other harassment-related activities in school to show what transpires in these potentially dangerous situations and made viable suggestions about how a young person could avoid or otherwise deal with these unfortunate occurrences. This was a sample of the kind of program he plans to bring into the Prince George's County school system, particularly elementary schools in the near future.
Back by popular demand, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration at the District III Coffee Circle on Wednesday, May 2, a meeting held monthly at Wegman's in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. The featured guest at the event was Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who found the exciting demonstration a tough act to follow. Dr. Thomas attends the coffee circle meetings on a regular basis, as well as the meetings of other grassroots organizations that are actively pursuing programs designed to improve the lives of the citizens of their communities, Prince George's County, and the State of Maryland, and whose members believe as he does that people must work together for the benefit of everyone concerned.
On Wednesday, January 4, Dr. Thomas gave a basic self-defense demonstration and discussed scams at the monthly meeting of the Prince George's County District III Coffee Circle held at Wegman's in the Woodmore Towne Centre in Largo, Maryland. This activity is a "public forum for ALL citizens, business owners, organizations, and public officials" who share helpful information at meetings that "focus on common concerns expressed by residents of District III." District III police officers and representatives attend these meetings to provide information, answer questions, and interact directly with the district's residents. Dr. Thomas looks forward to becoming further involved in District III community safety programs and to working with the district's officials to coordinate district activities across the county, including senior safety education and bullying prevention.
Dr. Thomas held a youth workshop on street smarts and practical self-defense for a group comprised mostly of young women who play basketball at the Bladensburg Community Center on Saturday, August 7. The participants were surprised at what they did not know when it comes to defending themselves both on the street and on the court. For example, a simple technique of rolling to gain ground when running away from an attacker could save their lives, or being able to roll and not get hurt could save them from injuries they might suffer from a fall on the court. Or, on the street or in other locations, such as in school, being able to effectively fight off an attacker from a position on the ground. To demonstrate another useful method of self-defense, Dr. Thomas showed how a cane can be used very effectively to deter or fight off an attacker.
Dr. Thomas gave two focused seminars on street smarts to parents and children and to girls and women at the Bladensburg Community Center on Saturday, September 26. The participants in the interactive seminars learned valuable tips that may be useful should they be accosted by someone who wishes to harm or steal from them. They also learned a few of the many self-defense techniques he teaches in his classes, which he encourages both children and adults to attend on a regular basis to learn much more. Dr. Thomas emphasized that any technique must be practiced to the point that it becomes an automatic reaction to an adverse circumstance. He looks forward to giving more such seminars in the future.
On Saturday, March 22, Dr. Thomas gave an exhilarating demonstration for the Theta Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. With the able assistance of two of his adult students, Greg Clement and Thalia Simpson-Clement, he astounded the audience with hands-on examples of simple self-defense methods that can be used by ordinary people. Afterward, he was awarded a handsomely framed "Certificate of Special Recognition, Community Service Award presented to Clifford Thomas PhD by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Omega Omega Chapter." Dr. Thomas very much appreciated receiving this recognition and will continue to work with the sorority to develop seminars in his efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.
At the invitation of Girls Inc. of Washington, D.C., Dr. Clifford Thomas gave a demonstration on practical self-defense to a group of female students at Garnet-Patterson Middle School. Noting some of the key concerns of the young ladies assembled, he focused at this preliminary session on methods they can use to prevent being harassed or sexually assaulted. While they found the demonstration entertaining, the young ladies also realized that the intent was to underscore that they should be treated respectfully and feel safe in their environment. Further, they learned that they themselves can be proactive in avoiding situations in which they are approached aggressively. Dr. Thomas was invited to return to give safety seminars at the school after this successful demonstration. Nadirah I. Moreland, Girls Inc. program director, who plans to work with Dr. Thomas in future programming as one of the organization's partners, thanked him for giving this demonstration: "Your flexibility, planning time, and intuitive strength with youth brought a wonderful and important time for the girls to learn critical skills in a warm and engaging setting. ... The girls certainly reflected how valuable the time with you was and they continued to practice the skills you demonstrated including breaking the grip."
Dr. Clifford Thomas gave the keynote speech at the Honors Assembly at Princeton Elementary School in Suitland, Maryland, on Friday, November 10. He was honored to be invited to speak on this occasion as it gave him the opportunity to talk to a group of young people in the community who could benefit from his experience. The third through sixth graders, their parents, and the school's supervisory and teaching staff listened intently as he spoke about the need for students to lead by example, be responsible, honor their parents, and do their best in school and at home, which are the basic tenets of the Tae Kwon Do Ramblers.
After his entertaining and inspirational address, Dr. Thomas demonstrated the effectiveness of practical self-defense moves, the simplicity of which came as a surprise to most of the audience. The children were delighted with the demonstration and motivated to learn more, and parents and school staff were particularly interested because of their concerns about the children's safety in school and on the street. The school's principal, Ms. Cynthia Rodgers, presented Dr. Thomas with a beautiful crystal award, a thoughtful and gracious gesture. Since his November 10 speech, Dr. Thomas has returned twice to give seminars for the children, the first time for second, third, and fourth graders, and the second time for fifth and sixth graders.