Reported by Kelsea Franzke
Teaching about consent and shaming perpetrators has been the focus of the #MeToo movement, but self-defence instructors say there’s also a need to empower people with training about personal safety.
On Oct. 16, Langara College held a self-defence class taught by instructors James Chartier and Louisa Weizmann from Hit and Run Self Defense. Participants learned techniques for striking, breaking holds and weapon safety, as well as the importance of awareness.
“No amount of training is going to help if you’re oblivious as to what’s around you,” Chartier said.
Taking a stand against violence
Weizmann stressed that when someone is under attack they’re at a disadvantage. The person attacking has the element of surprise, so people need to be creative with their defence.
“Anything around you can be used as an improvised weapon. Use those things instead of your body parts,” Weizmann said.
Langara student, Maria Perujo, said she took the class to learn how to defend herself. She is from Mexico where street attacks are common, so she wants to be more prepared.
“We learned to be fast. In a situation like that you have to be fast and think fast. Always run out of a situation when you’re done – do not fight,” Perujo said.
The benefits of co-ed intermingling
According to Chartier, female-only classes would leave participants at a disadvantage, because it’s highly unlikely for an attacker to be a woman. They encourage co-ed intermingling, but are sensitive to female participants who only want to work with other women.
This is often the case if a participant is coping with a past trauma and may not be ready to work with men.
Weizmann hopes that participants leave their class feeling educated and confident.
“I love empowering people, and I love empowering women. When I hear what goes on in the news it makes my blood boil.
I want people to know that you don’t have to be desperate, that there is a way to fight back, and that you’re going to be okay.”