Two Preston martial arts clubs are putting on women’s self defence courses during November.Advertisement
Redkite Plus is holding a one-off event on Saturday 20 November at Everybody Fit, while Sukata Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is putting on a rolling six-week session for visually impaired women. Both courses will be dealing with fitness, general safety and legal advice.
2021 has seen a string of high-profile attacks on women along with the growing use of syringes in a series of attacks in cities across the country, including Preston.
The Temp Asst Chief Constable for Lancashire Police, whilst urging vigilance, was keen to reassure the public that these occurrences are relatively low with the understanding that all reported cases will be investigated thoroughly.
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However, domestic abuse against women is assuredly not relatively low, with domestic abuse charity Refuge describing the problem as the ‘biggest social issue’ facing women and girls today.
During the first lockdown, the total number of reported crimes linked to domestic abuse against all genders in Lancashire rose to around 15 per cent, a 2 per cent rise over the previous year – though it should be noted that figures obtained from the Office of National Statistics claimed that domestic abuse crimes in the county were already rising before the pandemic struck.
I caught up with instructors from both clubs to discuss the sessions and the importance of raising awareness of these behaviours in the current climate.
Rachel Joyner, Red Kite instructor for the Self-Defence, Assertiveness and Self-Awareness course started by giving a broad overview of what to expect in their three-hour session.
“We focus on simple defence techniques whilst covering explanations of minimal force and what that means with regards to defending yourself. We also cover issues such as domestic violence, self respect and social media pressures for young women and girls.”
What motivated you initially to put this course on?
“It was the incident in Colne in Germany a few years back when a large group of men rampaged through the city, sexually attacking lone 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 want to encourage everyone to speak out against inappropriate treatment of women in every day life. We all need to make changes in how we respond to inappropriate behaviour so our daughters and granddaughters don’t have to carry on dealing with threat, the same way as we have had to.”
What would you say to someone who wouldn’t otherwise come to a martial arts gym?
“It’s not about making people ninjas in a short period of time; I’ll be teaching how to strike effectively and where to strike and some simple break away techniques. People mustn’t be deterred if they feel they have low fitness levels or physical disabilities. It’s an interactive workshop so we can tweak things and discuss ideas and options.
“I try to make it chatty whilst we’re trying out stuff, we discuss domestic violence, assault, sexual assault and what constitutes minimal force. I use definitions and explanations direct from the police website and then we chat about what we think that means.”
If you could give one piece of safety advice, what would it be?
“To stay visible, don’t be afraid to be loud and look out for each other.”
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Sukata Preston is also offering a women’s self-defence course for visually impaired people in conjunction with sight loss charity Galloway’s.
Head coach at Sukata, Rob Jackson, said: “I initially approached Galloway’s as we’d been looking for a way to give back to the community in some way.”
So this was partially a social outreach effort as well as a self-defence course, as martial arts and blindness aren’t necessarily seen as natural bedfellows?
“We didn’t start it solely with self-defence in mind so much as offering potentially a chance at a new hobby for visually impaired people. The advantage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that it’s so tactile it allows blind and partially sighted people to take part. I remember there was a blind competitor in 2014 who was competing nationally and it really inspired me.”
What can students expect from the course?
“As the class is aimed at visually impaired people, we don’t focus too much on situational awareness and obviously punching is not much use. We focus more on methods for controlling the distance between an attackers who’ve got in close and using escape holds. We also discuss acceptable force and legal issues.”
What feedback have you received so far?
“Feedback has been good; because there’s no striking, it’s far more accessible for visually impaired people and they all felt much safer. We really wanted the classes to feel comfortable for the attendees so there are two women assisting, including a competing martial artist.
“We’ve had nine people sign up with more potentially interested in joining. The class is currently full, though given how well this class is going we’ll most likely be running it on rotation so people can feel free to get in touch for the next six-week course.”
For bookings and more information on Redkite’s Self-Defence, Assertiveness and Self-Awareness course contact email@example.com.
For more information on Redkite Plus, visit – http://www.redkiteplus.co.uk
If you’re visually impaired and would like to be placed on the waiting list for Sukata Preston’s women’s self defence classes contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Rob Jackson on 07587 769001.
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