Chantell Prestcott-Hollander was a military wife who was home alone when someone attempted to break into her home. Her ex-husband was deployed at the time.
She said fast thinking and an angry dog saved her life that night.
“It was a wake-up call that the self-defense I had done as a kid just wasn’t what I needed, wasn’t what was going to save me,” Prestcott-Hollander said.
She began searching for Krav Maga schools. Krav Maga is a self-defense system popularized by and taught to the Israeli Defensive Forces. It combines a variety of forms of martial arts and defensive fighting techniques.
Prestcott-Hollander said when she found the right place, “It was love at first punch.”
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She and her husband Ehren Hollander have been teaching Krav Maga locally for over 12 years. She’s the founder and owner of The Strong Her Initiative and Program Manager of Krav Oz in Germantown, Maryland. The Strong Her Initiative and Krav Oz coordinate to work with universities such as Georgetown, American, and Gallaudet.
They give seminars to teach women the basics of self-defense and offer practical techniques that the average person can use during a violent attack — grappling, wrestling and learning how to strike, throw a good punch or a good kick if you need to.
She said their goal is to reach women of all ages with their initiative.
“We would like every single woman to have access to this knowledge and have a chance to feel what it’s like to defend themselves and to feel strong and powerful in their body,” Prestcott-Hollander said.
They train women to make smart decisions if they come face to face with an attacker — how you can use your body as a weapon to create space and time to escape.
They also discuss preventing and avoiding an attack and the mindset of predators.
“Own your space, ” Prescott-Hollander said, “Walking with that confidence is everything.”
She said they don’t believe in telling women when and where to go, but she gives the following tips.
“If you’re out late at night, use your phone, share your location, let someone know where you are at [and] park in well-lit areas,” she said.
Prestcott-Hollander also noted that situational awareness is key.
“Being distracted and isolating any of our five senses is something that can put a woman or anyone at a greater risk of potentially being attacked,” she said.
What is the predatory mindset? They help women understand the psychology of an attack. She urges women to look for signs, such as someone discounting their “no.” That, she said, is potential predatory behavior.
Violence isn’t random, Prestcott-Hollander insists. Predators pick those they think cannot or will not defend themselves in many instances.
To find out more about the Strong Her Initiative, you can visit their website, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-349-1249.
20300 Seneca Meadows Pkwy, #110
Germantown, Maryland 20876
This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference in our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.