“Keeping Dancers Safe” | FDA Teaches more than the Art of Dance

Every year, Forest Dance Academy offers a variety of Summer dance camps for students of all ages.  In Summer 2022, the studio offered students the opportunity to spend a 4-day intensive focused on the development of Acro skills, and they could attend the Mini or Classic Dance Camps that exposed students to a variety of genres.  Students learned from respected choreographers and teachers in the community, and this experience allowed students to continue to grow in their dance skills.  However, Summer 2022 brought a new opportunity to young dancers in Forest Dance Academy’s Classic Dance Camp.

While FDA is committed to growing talented young dancers, the faculty and leadership of FDA is also invested in the growth of the entire individual.  Accordingly, by the request of her husband Jason Thomas, Artistic Director and Owner, Michelle Thomas, invited Coach Sidney Burns of COBRA Self Defense VA to teach students enrolled in the Summer 2022 Classic Dance Camp basic self defense skills.  Coach Burns is the Owner and Primary Instructor of COBRA Self Defense VA, and is a lifelong student of martial arts.  His website (https://cobradefenseva.com) stresses his mission, which is to allow individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds to take control of their own safety.  

 During the 4-day intensive camp, Coach Burns taught students basic self defense moves, such as the palm heel strike, front kick, and wrist and choke escapes.  The movements were practiced in a controlled environment in the dance studio, where mats and other safety equipment were used for protection.  COBRA Self Defense Training is designed for real-world situations, and utilizes the personal experience of law enforcement officers, martial arts training, and the psychology of criminals to prepare individuals for moments when their personal safety may be in crisis.

The young dancers benefited from their dance training as they took Coach Burns’ class.  Dancers must be keenly aware of their own bodies as they perform.  Just as posture, muscle tone, foot placement, and agility are important in dance, the students were able to also see how these skills impacted their approach to self defense.  Also, the dancer’s ability to use their peripheral vision and other senses to perform in unity with other dancers helps them to react and respond to a potential assailant’s movements.

While much of Coach Burns’ training was physical, some of his training focused on the importance of safe habits in parking lots, while driving, and on social media.  He stressed the importance of privacy settings on social media accounts and avoiding posts that may give clues as to where the poster is located, where they live, or where their valuables are located.  He also demonstrated to the students how to be prepared in case they are unable to use their cell phones to call for help.  

While learning self defense at dance camp was unexpected, it was appreciated by both dancers and parents.  One pre-teen dancer stated that she was nervous at first, but knew that FDA’s owner, Michelle Thomas, liked the students to try new things.  While she began the class uncertain, she said that she walked away with greater since of confidence in her abilities to protect herself.  She was more aware of her surroundings, more in tune to the body language of those around her, and cautious if strangers seemed to get too close to her in public.  She felt empowered by this knowledge, and proud of her ability to take a more active role in her own safety at such an early age.

Parents were also surprised but delighted in the new skills of their young dancers.  One mother commented that she was shocked at her daughter’s ability to immediately take concepts she had learned in her self defense class and put it into action without hesitation.  For example, while in the parking lot of a local store, her daughter pointed out someone who was approaching women exiting their cars.  The mother had not noticed the individual and was thrilled at her daughter’s awareness and caution.  

In conclusion, the parents and dancers at FDA benefited from the opportunity to learn basic self defense skills at the Summer 2022 Classic Dance Camp.  This year’s dance camp participants walked away with valuable knowledge on how to better defend themselves, as well as how to protect themselves on social media and in public.  We are proud of our dancers and the growth they exhibited!  

By Jamie Stowe

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The Gold Standard in Real World Self-Defense Training Anyone Can Do!

COBRA Self-Defense System is the acclaimed reality based system of self defense for real world scenarios anyone can learn regardless of age or gender and it is now available in Lynchburg, Virginia.

C.O.B.R.A.â„¢ Is A Police Academy For Civilians

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Combining experience in law enforcement, close quarter combat techniques, martial arts & the psychology of criminal intent the Combat Objective Battle Ready Applications, or C.O.B.R.A.â„¢, self-defense system designed to be highly effective in real world situations where your survival is on the line.

Ex-street cop, sheriff and corrections officer, Joe Lewis-blackbelt, school owner, author and C.O.B.R.A.™ founder Chris Sutton has written the book (literally) on the psychology of self-defense. This is not simply a collection of “cool moves,†but a complete system covering both the mental and physical aspects of self-defense with a unique emphasis on scenario training.

C.O.B.R.A.â„¢ is Self Defense Training for the Real World

The COBRA Self-Defense System is not a martial art. Our students don’t sit cross legged on the floor in their uniform watching their master perform a move. In contrast the COBRA System, has been designed for the real world by a real ex-cop, ex-prison guard, sheriff who has seen criminality at work and has developed a system comprised of tactics and strategies you can quickly learn and will.

This is what we call “Reality Based Training“ and it is what makes COBRA effective because the muscle memory you develop as part of your training revolves around what you’ll likely experience when out in the real world.

Owner, Sidney Burns, is a lifetime student of professional martial arts and self defense training, philosophy and continuous education. He is a member of MATA ( Martial Arts Teacher Association).

  • Regional Director Central U.S.
  • Certified Instructor in COBRA Self Defense
  • Certified Instructor in COBRA Fighting Systems
  • Certified Instructor in COBRA Active Shooter Response Plan
  • Martial Arts Teachers Association (MATA) 2018 Instructor of the Year
  • December 2018 Self Defense Professional Magazine Featured Instructor
  • 1st Degree Black Belt in Shorin Ryu Karate
  • 5th Degree Black Belt in American Karate
  • 5th Degree Black Belt in Senshi Ryu Karate
  • Master & Founder of Senshi Ryu Karate
  • Studied multiple styles of Martial Arts, such as Kung Fu and Krav Maga

Everyone Deserves to Improve Their Safety

Our mission is to make everyone empowered to take control of their — and their family’s — safety. Everyone deserves to improve their safety. No matter your age, gender, or level of prior experience.

Sidney Burns, Owner and Instructor at C.O.B.R.A. Self Defense Va. Reality based Self Defense/Martial Arts have been an important part of my life for over 40 years.

Our Academy is 1 of over 140 Certified COBRA Defense System Training Centers in the U.S. and around the world.

Our passion and our focus is to educate and empower young and old with the tools to help defend themselves in the present day and age.