Meet Cranford Blackmon
When a young woman who is like family to me was brutally attacked and raped in her own home, besides being devastated, I was confused. How could a healthy, strong woman with some self-defense training be so horribly beaten, tortured, and raped? Why didn’t the self-defense techniques that are so commonly taught around the world work? Why hasn’t someone created a program for women that DOES work, but doesn’t require years of practice, greater strength than the attacker, or a weapon?
The response that popped into my head at that moment was: “Why haven’t you?”
That question shocked me.
I have a broad range of experience dealing with criminals, safety, law enforcement, anti-terrorism, military combat skills, medical rescue, teaching disaster response, conducting major accident and terrorist response training for the military, and more. I like teaching and public speaking. I don’t come across loud or militaristic. Thinking about all of that made me realize that I probably am the right person to create something new that would work and that could be taught to women and girls without being intimidating, overly technical, or requiring years of practice.
But I had a huge obstacle to overcome. Predators don’t attack only healthy, fit, flexible, fast women in the prime of their lives. Predators attack women of every shape and size, every color, every ethnicity, every religion, every age, women with health challenges, women with physical challenges, and more. Predators are notoriously rude in that they will choose to attack when their targets are not ready. They don’t allow their intended victims to warm up their muscles or stretch them out to give them a better chance of escaping. They target women who have their hands and arms full of groceries or children. They don’t wait until their targets can get their self-defense tool or some other weapon from the other room, from their car, or from the bottom of their purse or backpack. They don’t let their targets change clothes into something that is more functional for fighting with a criminal.
So I needed to create a program that would work for women regardless of whether they are petite, average, or curvy; regardless of whether they are fitness and gym fanatics, or if they never exercise; regardless of whether all their body parts are present and functioning well or if they have physical challenges or are missing parts others normally have; regardless of whether they have specialized training, or weapons, or have never fought in their life and hate the idea of having “weapons” in their home; regardless of whether they are an introverted wallflower in their first semester of college, a powerful CEO in midlife, or a retired grandmother. I needed to create something that would work for ALL of those women. And I did.
I created the LaBCaF program for women. What does it mean? It means “Legs And Brains, Claws And Fangs.” It is about using what you always have with you to keep yourself safe and to escape the clutches of some violent predator. My thought was that if you needed something else before you could be “ready” to protect yourself, then the program wasn’t good. That program included classes in situational awareness, boundary setting, protecting your home, escaping a situation, and how to stop and even disable an attacker – regardless of his size and regardless of what you have or don’t have with you.
It was a great program. I taught teen girls up to senior citizens. I taught professionals and hardworking stay at home moms. I taught athletes and I taught those with physical and mental limitations. I taught in churches, steel mills, weight loss centers, hair salons, and more. The most common remarks I heard after a class was “every girl needs this!” I loved hearing that, and at the same time I was sad because I understood WHY every girl needs it.
After teaching for a few years, I realized a few things: 1) I need to learn how to run a business before I work myself into homelessness! 2) A large portion of my clients had already survived sexual violence, domestic violence, abuse, exploitation, and more. I had to make certain my program would serve the needs of those survivors in a way they would feel comfortable and capable enough to make sure nothing like that ever happened to them again, and 3) I realized there was much more I can teach to create even more safety for more women of every age.
So I put my business on hold while I researched, planned, brainstormed, and learned even more about how I could not only teach women to be safer in the face of danger, but how I could teach them to not be targeted in the first place. And on top of that, I had to figure out how to reach more women and girls in a way that could change not only a few women’s lives, but in a way that could change whole families, communities, and even make that change keep going generation after generation.
Sounds like a pretty big order, right? It was. But it wasn’t impossible.
I decided to rework everything in every program I offered. I took out anything that didn’t feel powerful. Then I began looking at the possibilities of how a woman can use more than just physical means to avoid and stop an attacker. I decided to add a few things to the program that would skyrocket the power women have access.
I decided to infuse every part of the program with a focus on creating psychological impact on predators, abusers, and traffickers. Basically, I added psychological warfare into the mix of what every woman and girl can use to keep themselves safe. This addition that comes from what I’ve learned from the military, from the world of psychology, the world of how the body and brain react when certain situations are experienced, and how prey animals avoid, escape, and stop predator animals gives women the upper hand – not only when facing a predator, abuser, or trafficker, but before they have ever even been targeted by one of those terrible criminals. Women will now have simple tools that practically take them off the “radar” predators use when selecting their next victim. And if they are targeted and attacked, every thing I teach is meant to affect the attacker, the abuser, the kidnapper in a way that goes into his subconscious mind, so that now his mind and body are telling him to stop and get away from this woman or this girl he has decided to hurt. That is powerful and will save more lives than guns or martial arts skills!
To make it available to more women, more girls, and the next generation, I decided to help every woman going through my coursework understand how to teach and model these same skills to their daughters, nieces, and granddaughters so that those girls grow up knowing how to be powerful, confident, self-reliant, and more than any predator ever wants to deal with. Although moms, grandmothers, and aunts stopped teaching their young girls how to outwit, overcome, and escape predators a long, long time ago, I think this is the way to bring that intergenerational fire back into the world of women and girls. I think there is no better way for a girl to become powerful, fierce, and capable than from the powerful, fierce, and capable women in her life. No girl should have to go to a stranger to learn those things. She should be learning them, seeing them, and living them in her home.
I remember coming across a proverb from some country. I don’t remember where it came from or where I read it, but I loved it, and I believe it. It goes something like this:
“When women are awakened and stirred to fight, even the mountains will tremble.”
Well, my goal is to start waking up women around the world, reminding them of their power, teaching them to awaken their daughters and the other women around them. Whether it is me teaching, people I’ve certified to teach my programs, or mom’s teaching daughters, I truly believe this is the way to slow down and eventually stop the violence that is perpetrated against women and girls around the world.
The program I created to do all of this is called “FemVincible.” It means that a woman can face any challenge with courage and confidence. It means reminding women that they aren’t weak, they aren’t second class citizens (or worse), they are worthy of safety, respect, and to be heard.
There’s more to come. I know there are plenty of men out there who believe the same as me, they just don’t know how to break out of societal and cultural patterns that have been in existence for far to long. But I believe they would jump at the chance to help their wives, daughters, sisters, and other female family and friends to be safer, more confident, and more “alive!” I believe those same men have no idea how to teach boys and their adult buddies how to support and respect and protect the women and girls in their lives. Again, I believe they would jump at the chance to learn and change the story of how men on this planet treat women.
So, I will continue to teach, and create new programs to awaken women and to empower men to be the masculine powerhouses of protection and guidance they long to be. I’ll teach couples how their relationship can grow in a way that not only strengthens their bond, but also teaches their children how to grow up respecting and protecting one another. I’ll teach young men how to be honorable and supportive of women while embracing their manliness. I’ll teach women how to understand and support that seed of the honorable warrior and wise father that lives in every man’s hope for himself.
There are so many ways to make the world safer and better for ourselves and for those who come after us; for our children and our children’s children. I know there’s no way to do all of them. But I’ll do what I can in this life to make it work. And maybe someone I teach will fight to make the world safer and better. Maybe a lot of people I teach will do that.
That’s some pretty big dreaming and hoping. But that’s who I am.
I hope to see you soon, becoming safer, more confident, and being an example for others around you and for the generations that will follow you.
Take care and thank you for being here.