Dojo Fairfield/C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense

Because you never know when you might find yourself in a situation that requires some element of self-defense, we decided to visit Karina Gramesty and Kailen Pirro, owners of Dojo Fairfield, to receive some C.O.B.R.A training (Combat Objective Battle Ready Applications).

Today’s post is dedicated to passing on all of the valuable lessons we learned, and hope that none of us ever have to use it. Knowledge is empowerment!

Post sponsored by Dojo Fairfield

Explain C.O.B.R.A., please!

We were pleased to begin offering C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense training back in May of 2015. While we teach a great deal of self-defense in our martial arts curriculum, we loved how the C.O.B.R.A. system allowed us to teach both those with experience as well as those without any previous training. The beauty of C.O.B.R.A. training is that ANYONE can do it. It was developed by Chris Sutton, a former marine drill sergeant, corrections officer, and sheriff. Through his unique experiences and discussions with ‘less savory characters’, Chris reverse engineered what was going on inside the criminal mind and developed a curriculum to combat it.  The result is C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense. Dojo Fairfield is the only school in Connecticut which offers this amazing program.

Why should everyone out there consider taking the C.O.B.R.A. training course?

We prefer to have our students empowered as opposed to living in a world of fear. We think that any time a person takes the time to learn a new skill, they are empowering themselves. When you learn how to defend yourself you actually lessen the likelihood of an attack because you will walk (mentally) stronger and with increased confidence (by attaining this knowledge) – as we say “you will walk taller in the world” letting an attacker know you are not a “soft target.”


1. Use your voice

Your voice is one of your most powerful weapons.  Never shut up.  Scream, shout, swear…whatever works for you – but DO NOT STOP.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

The best form of self-defense is to “not be there”.  Sounds silly, but don’t put yourself in a parking lot by yourself. If you feel uncomfortable leaving somewhere on your own, ask for someone to walk with you.  Any reasonable and considerate person would love the opportunity to help someone.  Do not be paranoid.  Attackers can “smell” weakness.

3. Stay off your electronics!

Take your earbuds out, keep your head up and walk with purpose.  If you’re walking to your car, walk there like you mean it, get in, lock the door and drive away.  Do not sit in the car and read your emails or answer texts then.  If you must answer a text, drive to a different lot, park (with your doors locked) and do what you need to do.  Your safety and well-being are worth the extra minute of driving.  Nothing is that important that it can’t wait another couple of minutes…nothing.

4. Intent

If you are going to use a technique, or use your voice, DO IT. Don’t go in halfway; you will need to go all out.

5. Fight like hell

Understand that when you need to protect yourself, you’re going to get hurt.  But, also understand that those injuries will heal and you can get help for the emotional and mental aftermath. Self-Defense is about you going home to your family and seeing the ones that you love. Make the decision that you are going to go home and fight like hell to make that happen.

A few C.O.B.R.A. self-defense techniques we learned!

Karina and Kailen took us through some scenarios and taught us how to escape.  Please don’t laugh at our expressions, we were totally in the moment, saving ourselves from the “perps.”

The hair grab: Grab attacker’s hands. “Base” which means shove your butt out hard as you squat down. Pull attacker’s arm up as you move around and behind.

The one hand grab: The opening of attacker’s fingers around your wrist is the weakest point. Grab your other hand, twist, and pull towards the opening.

One hand grab: An attacker would expect you to pull away. The art of surprise (and to throw the attacker off balance) – run towards them, scream and make a lot of noise!

Two hands wrist grab: Go through attackers arms, grab your hand and yank up with all your force.

Bear hug: “Base” – shove your booty out – the attacker isn’t expecting that. Grab a finger, pull up and push through at the same time.

5 Everyday weapons…

1. Your teeth!

Bite the hell out of someone. Your jaws are among the strongest joints in your body. Clench down and go!  Gross? Well, so is the idea that someone wants to attack you.

2. Your fingernails

Rake your fingernails across someone’s face. When we say “rake”, we mean with every fiber of your being.  It’s also a great DNA catcher.

3. Rings

Don’t punch them with your rings. It won’t do that much damage. Flip them around to palm-side and, like with your fingernails, rake them across someone’s face. Another great DNA catcher.

4. A simple hot cup of coffee, tea…

or any liquid for that matter.  Splashing it into an attacker’s face will buy you that second to run.

5. And speaking of run… RUN

While this isn’t necessarily a “weapon”, you should end any potential threat by running to safety. There is absolutely no need to sit around and hang out. GET TO SAFETY and USE THAT VOICE!

Kailen Pirro and Karina Gramesty. These two can kick butt and are super serious about self-defense…but don’t ask them to pose for a picture. They reminded us a lot of us in this regard!

More in their comfort zone (ok, or really when Bev’s phone rang and made a weird sound. These ladies were ready!)

Tell our readers a little bit about Dojo Fairfield. How long has it been around and what is the focus?

We took over the school from our instructor back in 2014 and concentrated our efforts on character development for our youth karate students and empowerment for our adult kickboxing students. Our karate students learn about Respect, Self-Control, Perseverance, and all of the important character development skills that we as parents want to instill. We simply use the martial arts as a vessel for our students to teach these traits. With our adult kickboxing students we provide a fun and informative 45-minute class that gets your heart-rate up and teaches the functional way to block and strike – so should our students ever need to use their training, they will have the capacity to do so.

Since many folks in the greater Fairfield community were looking for a shorter fitness program that was non-committal, we introduced Dojo Fitness in the Fall of 2014. Dojo Fitness is a 30-minute High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) program which incorporates cardio and strength training in 5 five-minute rounds (with a minute of rest in between rounds).

Tell us about you both! When did you start practicing karate?

Karina is in her 11th year practicing martial arts. What starting out being a way to get back into shape when her daughter started school, quickly became a passion and an addiction. Kailen has been training for 9 years and began by enrolling her son in a youth karate program. After witnessing the positive changes in her son, Kailen then signed up for the kickboxing program, which became both a way to stay in shape as well as centered in all aspects of life.

Life/careers before assuming ownership of Dojo Fairfield? 

Karina has worn many different professional hats over the years but was an interior decorator/stager before making the martial arts a full-time career. Kailen worked in the professional research and marketing research arenas prior to devoting her time to the martial arts.

Life now?!

Ha! Life (or lack thereof) is now non-stop. Dojo Fairfield is our life. We live, breathe and eat the business of Dojo Fairfield. If we’re not at the dojo running classes, doing everyday business, planning curriculums or training/working out, we are spending as much time with our families as possible.

In one sentence – your philosophy on life!

Karina – Whether you think you can or think you can’t…you’re right.

Kailen – If it isn’t fun, then it isn’t worth doing.  🙂

A huge thank you to Karina and Kailen for this condensed C.O.B.R.A. class, which is usually a 10-week program. In addition to the 10-week program, they also offer shorter safety seminars, real estate safety, and corporate training. Click here to find out more!

Dojo Fairfield

2317 Black Rock Tpk, Fairfield, CT 06825

(203) 319-9989

C.O.B.R.A Self-Defense

Pics: Lora/ Words: Bev

This article has been sponsored

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