Two Preston martial arts clubs are running women’s self-defense classes in November.
The Red Kite Thai and Kickboxing School begins sessions on Monday, November 15, while Sukata Brazilian Jiu Jitsu runs a six-week continuous session for visually impaired women. Both courses will cover fitness, general safety, and legal advice.
2021 saw a spate of high-profile attacks on women as well as the increasing use of needles in a spate of attacks in cities across the country, including Preston.
The Lancashire Police Acting Police Chief, while calling for vigilance, reassured the public that these events are relatively small with the understanding that all reported cases will be investigated thorough.
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However, domestic violence against women is by no means relatively low, with the Refuge charity describing domestic violence as the “biggest social problem” facing women and girls today.
During the first lockdown, the total number of reported domestic violence crimes against all genders in Lancashire rose to around 15%, a 2% increase from the previous year – although it was at Note that figures obtained from the Office of National Statistics claimed that domestic violence crimes in the county were already on the rise before the pandemic struck.
I met with instructors from both clubs to discuss the sessions and the importance of raising awareness of these behaviors in today’s climate.
Rachel Joyner, Red Kite instructor for the Self Defense, Assertiveness and Self-Awareness course, started off by providing a general overview of what to expect during their three-hour session.
“We focus on simple defense techniques while covering the explanation of minimum strength and what that means in terms of defense. We also cover issues like domestic violence, self-esteem and social media pressures for young women and girls.
What initially motivated you to take this course?
“It was the Colne incident in Germany a few years ago when a large group of men ransacked the city, sexually assaulting single women, women in groups or even with their partners. I was horrified by the story. I want women to feel strong mentally and physically and I want to encourage everyone to speak out against the inappropriate treatment of women in everyday life. We all need to change the way we react to inappropriate behavior so that our daughters and granddaughters do not have to continue to face the threat, the same way we did.
What would you say to someone who wouldn’t otherwise come to a martial arts venue?
“It’s not about making people ninjas in a short time; I will teach how to hit effectively and where to hit, as well as some simple relief techniques. People should not be discouraged if they feel they have a low level of fitness or physical disabilities. It’s an interactive workshop so we can polish things up and discuss ideas and options.
“I try to talk while we try stuff, we discuss domestic violence, assault, sexual assault and what constitutes minimal force. I use definitions and explanations straight from the police website and then we discuss what we think that means. “
If you could give one safety tip, what would it be?
“To stay visible, don’t be afraid to make noise and pay attention to each other. “
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Sukata Preston also offers a self-defense course for visually impaired women in collaboration with the Galloway’s charity.
Sukata head coach Rob Jackson said: “I first approached Galloway as we were looking for a way to give back to the community in some way.”
So part of it was a social awareness effort as well as a self-defense class, as martial arts and blindness aren’t necessarily seen as natural bedfellows?
“We didn’t start it just with self-defense in mind, but rather by potentially offering a chance for a new hobby for the visually impaired. The advantage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that it is so tactile that it allows blind and visually impaired people to participate. I remember there was a blind competitor in 2014 competing nationally and that really inspired me.
What can students expect from the course?
“Since the course is aimed at visually impaired people, we don’t focus too much on situational awareness and obviously punches aren’t very helpful. We focus more on methods of controlling the distance between an attacker who is approaching and who uses flight holds. We are also discussing acceptable strength and legal issues.
What feedback have you received so far?
“The comments have been good; because there is no keystroke, it is much more accessible to the visually impaired and they all feel much safer. We really wanted the classes to be comfortable for the participants, so there are two women attending, including a competing martial artist.
“We had nine people signing up and others potentially interested in joining us. The course is currently full, but given how well this course is going, we will probably be running it in rotation so people can feel free to contact us for the next six week course.
Redkite’s Self-Defense, Assertiveness and Self-Awareness Course is scheduled to begin Monday, November 15. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations and more information.
If you are visually impaired and would like to be put on the waiting list for Sukata Preston Women’s Self Defense Classes, contact email@example.com or Rob Jackson on 07587 769001.
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