PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On a recent Saturday in Sewickley, dozens of people from different backgrounds gathered for a rather unconventional self-improvement seminar.

No notepads or power-point presentations: Participants at the weekend workshop at INPAX Academy of Personal Protection, instead, used rope, zip-ties, and duct tape.

“Who would not want to learn how to get out of duct tape?” Tom Wentling was one of those participants. He and his wife have taken several self-defense courses at INPAX. He found this Restraint Defeat Workshop especially empowering.

“I just have a much greater view of my options and if something horrible were going to happen I feel I have a way to respond that I didn’t have before.”

Former CIA Officer Zac Grove leads the class. He runs a security company called Armada Global.

“I was a CIA officer for 10 years. (I) worked in a lot of locations overseas where there’s kidnapping risks,” explained Grove.

“It happens locally on occasion, but Pittsburgh is a global city. They’re traveling to the Middle East. They’re traveling to Africa, Latin America. Those risks are all very significant there.”

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Both Grove and INPAX owner Sam Rosenberg know people who’ve been abducted or restrained and lived to tell about it. The National Crime Information Center reports hundreds of cases each year in the U.S. alone.

“The unthinkable does happen,” Rosenberg told KDKA’s Kym Gable.

“This is one of the most extreme dynamics in terms of last resort: How do you save your life?”

The Restraint Defeat course focuses on a very specific set of skills. The students, who ranged from retirees to moms, to executives, were surprised to learn how easy it is to escape if your hands are bound with duct tape. Most were able to break the seal with a simple downward movement that Grove demonstrated.

Many of the attendees registered for the class out of curiosity. Others have serious safety concerns, like Kelly Kupiec, who owns several restaurants.

Grove also acknowledges the techniques can be considered a novelty to some. “It’s a cool thing to learn. It can be a party favor or something like that,” he joked.

Kupiec, though considers it a life-saving lesson that helped her build the kind of confidence that lasts a lifetime.

“I didn’t think it was possible. Really didn’t think it was possible,” said Kupiec.

“Do you feel empowered?” asked Gable.

“Ya! I want more!” said Kupiec.

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