Armored Team Building to help fundraise for domestic violence awareness
What do you get when you cross Israeli hand-to-hand combat with team building?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and one local company is giving back by offering a self-defense class benefitting Family Services of Forsyth County.
Armored Team Building uses Krav Maga as a part of their employee enhancement system “that generates heightened executive presence, leadership, and team-building skills in employee groups using the foundation of self-defense as the core platform,” according to the website, www.armoredteambuilding.com.
Armored Team Building is spearheaded by performance enhancement specialists/founders Connie Chesner and Travis Cook. The duo met when Chesner started taking classes where Cook taught. Chesner said she dropped into Cook’s class one day as a part of a free women’s self-defense seminar. She immediately fell in love with Krav Maga, and she then started training six days a week and attended every class that was offered.
“I even made him teach some classes where I was the only one,” she said. “Full disclosure, I was working through some terrible things, so I did find it as an internal need, part of the reason why I was addicted was I was working through my own psychology and my own emotions.”
Chesner said she experienced domestic violence from a previous relationship, which is why she was instantly drawn to Krav Maga.
“Essentially what would happen was, when he got aggressive, I would shut down and freeze. I felt powerless, and Krav Maga allowed me to feel empowered, I felt like I had tools,” she said. “If you would have looked at me on the outside when I was in this relationship, you would have never known anything, and a lot of that is, people get really good at hiding. When we talk to these ladies that are in fairly high-powered positions, I tell my story, and they come up afterward, and they are like ‘let me tell you, that is exactly like this ex I had, or this experience that I had.’ There is a lot of it happening in plain sight.”
After training for a while, she was inspired to apply her background in communication and market research with the tools she learned from Krav Maga to create Armored Team Building. She then partnered with Cook, who has studied martial arts for 23 years, and the two have been traveling and offering their services to various corporations ever since.
“We are fully mobile,” Cook said. “We take everything with us, we go onsite, but it also allows us to serve 28 states within a comfortable driving range.”
Cook and Chesner said they usually travel for their clients, but they also serve the local and regional markets. Some of their work with large corporations includes brands such as Coca-Cola, BB& T, Wells Fargo, Volvo, and Lincoln Financial. She said they also serve nonprofits such as the high school dropout prevention program, Community In Schools.
“Most of the companies we work with, I don’t care if they are as big as those or small companies that we work with, they all value the idea of true mentorship and true building of confidence or trust,” Chesner said. “So we spend a lot of time on those basic things that all of us need: feeling confident in your self or in a relationship with others, and trust goes hand-in-hand with that.”
Chesner said both her and Cook love to give back to the local community by helping raise funds through workshops. She said both her and Cook have a passion for raising funds for anti-human trafficking efforts as well as domestic violence awareness.
Chesner named Restoration Place in Greensboro and Justice League Ministries in Charlotte as some of the places that benefit from fundraisers. Family Services of Forsyth County will be the beneficiary of the workshop that is planned for Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at Fitness 2000 Gym and Wellness Center, located at 1415 River Ridge Dr. in Clemmons.
Cook said the classes are designed to be universal so that everyone, despite experience level, can learn and adapt easily.
“There is a three-part process that every self-defense follows, and this is standard for Krav Maga across the board, it is addressing the danger, violently counterattack and evacuate the danger zone,” he said of the basic tenets of Krav Maga.
Cook said the three-part process is easier to remember in a high-stress and detrimental situation. From there, Cook said, class members take their hardest points to hit with and connected with the softest points of another person. Cook said he teaches members to use their palms, elbows, head-butts, knee strikes, kicking the groin with legs, etc.
“There are no rules in self-defense because this is your life we are talking about,” he said. “There is no ref that is going to step in and stop it; you can’t rely on other people to come save you. It teaches self-reliance and in that self-reliance comes empowerment and confidence.”
Cook said the universal curriculum is fitting for any body type, teenagers, the elderly and those with physical disabilities.
Chesner said then they tie that knowledge and those tools back to a non-self defense situation such as “interacting with coworkers, meeting deadlines and dealing with stressors.”
“We have a great time, by the way, it sounds really heavy, I kid you not, people laugh more in our sessions than anything else,” she said. “They laugh, have fun but walk away with some really heavy stuff, but at the same time feel better about themselves. It is kind of like a win-win.”
Katie Murawski is the editor of YES! Weekly. She is from Mooresville, North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in film studies from Appalachian State University in 2017.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Workshop fundraising is “donate-what-you-can” and all funds will go to Family Services of Forsyth County. The workshop is open to both members and non-members ages 14 and up. Armored Team Building also offers weekly Krav Maga classes in Winston-Salem on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about those classes.