From vino to violence

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Kathy Charleton used to sell wine. Now she’s stepped down from Olympic Cellars to promote something even more dear to her heart: women’s safety and self-protection.


In 2000, Kathy Charleton’s husband Ralph joined forces with family friend Tim Larkin to found Target Focus Training, “an organization providing the entire spectrum of self-protection training from situational awareness to instinctive response to unexpected life-or-death violence, applying principles that ‘you can bet your life on.’”


“TFT has trained military, law enforcement and civilians,” Charleton said. “I got very much involved because of Tim’s book, ‘Survive the Unthinkable: A Total Guide to Women’s Protection,’ before its launch in August. One of the reasons I joined TFT is our increased focus on women and their need to gain this lifesaving information in today’s increasing violent society.”


Charleton said what really turned her head and her heart into teaching women to protect themselves with confidence are three disheartening facts: Women ages 15-44 are more likely to die at the hands of male violence than from cancer, war, car accidents and malaria combined; only 16 percent of rape cases are reported to authorities; and the rise of home invasions and rapes.


“For me, with this book and the focus of violence against women, I want to get the word out that women can and should protect themselves,” Charleton said. “We did a survey and 84 percent of the buyers of the book were men because they wanted it for the women in their lives.”


Charleton said girls grow up learning that avoiding dangerous situations and places is all they can do in terms of self-protection but they often become desensitized to danger because constant vigilance takes a lot of energy. Or else they believe it never can happen to them.


“Women have the right not to live in fear of being targeted for assault, rape and murder simply because of their gender,” Charleton said.


“But the self-defense industry trains women differently than men. Women are told that they don’t have the strength to protect themselves from an unavoidable attack and so they must capitulate, negotiate or use other means to try to protect themselves.”


As operations manager for TFT, Charleton has taken the two-day course, as have all the company’s employees.


“You really are learning how to injure the individual attacking you to save your life. You have to make a conscious choice, can I react with a first strike because violence often is over in five seconds,” Charleton said. “What TFS also asks is, ‘What’s your primary weapon?’ Some say it’s a gun but if it’s not in your hand at the time of the attack … What we teach is your primary weapon is your brain and your body.

When you see an attacker, we teach you to see targets — there are over 100 targets on the body. You learn how to strike and injure those targets — disable and injure because once predators are injured, they can’t do anything else.”


Even though every woman would say her life is worth more than the $1,000 it costs for the intensive training, for many women it’s just not financially possible, so TFT offers DVDs and an online three-hour video training for the price of a nice dinner. She also has a training video she’d be willing to lend to interested groups. For more information, see


Charleton said she sees women’s TFT training as a personal responsibility just like buckling their seatbelts each and every time. A woman has to decide within herself, Charleton said, that she has the intent to protect herself and her family, no matter what it takes.


“If a women’s hand could scratch around the eyes of an attacker, she could have gouged his eye and put an end to the attack,” Charleton said. “You really have to practice it, to think. Fear is going to hit you hard but you still will be able to react.”


Charleton said a quote from Larkin’s book sums up best the tragedy of violence against women but also the power TFT training affords: “She died not from weakness or cowardice but a lack of useful information.”
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