Wearing foam chest guard, face shield, shin guard with ponytails, the girls at the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training centre in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad look extremely cute while practising ‘tiger strike’ technique to compete with each other. Accompanied with their water bottles and kit bags, these cuties practice self defence techniques quite religiously at the institute. Though these kids may not be fully aware about the need and importance of learning self defence but they all seem greatly inspired by Mary Kom and dream of becoming like her.
These girls are learning self defence techniques to avoid any unexpected assaults and defend themselves if an assault takes place.
Rape, molestation, kidnapping and murder are the most common forms of crime against women in India. The women in India are also vulnerable to acid attacks and eve-teasing. However such incidents can be averted with the help of self-defence techniques for women. “I want my daughter Shaza Rizvi (6) to learn self defence as I wish to nurture her to confront every challenges with confidence. Martial arts training will teach her self defence, improve her self confidence and will teach her practical life skills which she can be used for the rest of her life,” said Zeenat Raza (mother of Shaza), who herself was a state level badminton player during her college days.
When asked about the risk involved in Martial arts and social stigma to allow her daughter to learn self defence, Zeenat said, “gone are the days when girls were only restricted to play indoor. Now people are more educated and aware that boys and girls must get similar opportunities in all respective fields. I thank Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and other women athletes who broke this jinx that women in India can not become the world beater in the field of sports. However, there is still a lot needed to be done but I am happy that things are being changed positively. Shaza is getting full support from home, school, and her coach. After seeing her many of our relatives and neighbours have started sending their daughters for self defence training as well.”
“We train these girls without any bias of gender, size and training. They are being trained hard like others. Sometimes they suffer injuries or are hit hard by their opponents during the bout, but this is the part of their training. Their parents bring them here to learn self defence so that they can defend themselves in any situation,” said Master (Sensai) Pradeep Negi, who runs the MMA training centre at Indirapuram.
“We train them in a manner which can groom them to face any challenges with confidence. Girls often don’t have the same avenues as boys for developing self-confidence or exhibiting mastery. Martial arts techniques are often easier for young girls to learn than young boys – a girl’s natural flexibility is an advantage over boys the same age,” he added.
Girls need a particular focus on self-defence. Techniques and awareness learned through martial arts training can help girls avoid assaults before they occur and defend themselves if an assault takes place. With the seemingly prevalence of abductions in modern times, it makes sense for girls to learn at least basic self-defense to avert any mishap.
According to some self defence experts, for girls who are preyed upon by bullies, or reside in neighbourhoods where street violence is common, the ability to defend themselves allows them peace of mind. In almost all cases, they never have to use their martial arts techniques on someone. Their increased awareness and presence deters violence. In effect, by understanding and mastering a higher level of the force continuum, they can achieve their goals by using lesser levels of force.
Veena Gupta is a certified First label Israeli Combat, Krav Maga self protection technique. She also provides training and instruction for women in self defence in Delhi NCR. “If you are groped or touched, catch hold of the hand and bite/poke his eyes or face and run away to safety. Kick him in his groin the easy way to hit him; Most of the time, this guy would run away as he is on the wrong side of the law and ‘he knows it’. He just goes on because ‘we let him go on’. A busted lip or bruised arm is always better than a deflated ego and lost honour! Choice is yours,” said Veena.
“I believe that parents should allow their girl child to master any form of martial art, which would enable her to protect herself from violence and harassment. Almost all women, girls at some point or the other, become victims to violent crimes. Incidents of eve teasing and rape have become very common. The best way out is to empower oneself with the right information and technique,” told Veena.
Akanksha Nougain (7), who is a resident of Kotdwara, Uttrakhand, recently won a medal in a Teakwondo competition held in Delhi. She revealed that while watching a combat fight at nearest ground she was thrilled and decided to learn it. “I love to see the Thai boxing action films” said Akansha.
Meanwhile her father Rajeev Nougain, who runs a shop in small town, told Millennium Post over the phone, “I know what challenges my daughter will face in years to come and this self defence technique not only will make her strong but teach her some tough lessons of life. She will learn to face difficulties, overcome pain and face the ups and downs of life. I don’t want to impart an upbringing in my daughter to just restrict her in household work. She will decide her fate by her wish, whether she wants to join army or peruse a carrier in sports, all depends on her. My job is to just support her,” said Rajeev.
Self-defence, especially for women, is of utmost importance in the kind of the world they live in today. Women, usually referred as the weaker sex, are considered easier targets.
In a country like India where cases of gender violence are on rise, out of which many go unreported, self-defence for women has become a necessity more than ever.