Karate experts have launched a new series of self-defence classes in a bid to help women fight off would-be sex attackers.
The free sessions, which are held at Edinburgh Martial Arts Academy in Captain’s Road, Gracemount, aim to equip participants with an effective arsenal should they find themselves faced with danger.
Morning and evening classes will run throughout August as part of the studio’s community outreach programme – and men are also welcome.
The sessions will teach potential victims key moves to buy vital time and get away from danger. Instructor John Bozac said: “If you carry yourself with confidence, you’re not going to be the first one they pick on.
“If you get a strike in, it gives you three or four seconds to make them think, is it worth it? You don’t fall into that trap of the human psyche when if you feel scared, you submit.”
Of the classes, he said: “People think it’s going to be violent – it’s not.
“You have a laugh and learn something. You realise your limits are a lot higher.
“Even if you are lying on the ground and they have got their hands on your throat, you can take them off balance.
“If you scream, if you shout, and do something to him, he’s not going to hang around.”
Emma Collingwood, 39, of Craighall Road, was among the first-timers at a taster class.
She said: “There’s been a few assaults around Granton and I just wanted to feel a bit more confident about being out and about on my own.
“A friend of mine got mugged in the New Town last year – it’s part of the reason she moved away.”
Ms Collingwood said she had been pleasantly surprised by the class and was keen to learn more.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be like karate, as I just wanted to learn self-defence,” she said.
“It’s a good mix. I like the fact that you get to understand some of the martial arts behind it, and that there are a few really simple things that you can do.
“I just assumed because I was small that there wouldn’t be much I could do to throw people off balance.”
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said that she would encourage females to attend self-defence classes as long as they were taught responsibly and women were not made to feel like they should have known the techniques if they had been attacked previously.
She said: “I think self-defence classes definitely have a place and can play a positive role. It’s all about increasing the woman’s confidence. What we know is that rape in particular is a crime that almost every woman in her life has feared. Classes can make you feel better about getting into certain situations or walking alone.”
Police Scotland has issued a leaflet advising women how to stay safe on a night out, including tips such as walking in the centre of pavements facing traffic and avoiding quiet alleys. A spokesman added: “This information can be found at www.scotland.police.uk”
‘I caused him to fall on his back’
Rapists admit they get discouraged if a potential victim puts up any kind of fight – a good reason to try a self-defence class.
If someone puts their hands around your neck, the instinct is to focus on removing them.
But instead, there are a few nifty moves which make the difference – even if the attacker is twice your size. Most of these involve targeting the joints, or the “centre line” of the body – for example, a jab to the solar plexus.
Say an attacker has grabbed me from behind and pinned my arms against them. By forcing my arms up and out, rotating my body and sweeping my left leg back and behind the attacker’s right leg, with my knee as close to his right knee as possible, I caused him to fall onto his back – giving me time to run.
The adrenaline flowing in a real-life incident would likely make you carry out the moves in record time.
And despite the class having a serious purpose, it was good fun – I’ll be back.