HSTS Instructors Mrs Gloria Williams 5th degree, Mrs Lisa Oakley 3rd degree, and Mrs Kelly Rose 2nd degree conducted a womens only self defence course.

On the 20th January 2015, 14 tranquil ladies, most of whom did not know each other, turned up at the Hitchin Dojang to learn Self Defence, hosted by Gloria Williams and assisted by Lisa Oakley and Kelly Rose.

The aim of the course was to increase confidence, and give people the ability to be able to defend themselves should the situation ever arise.  The course was run over six weeks, and each week covered different techniques and aspects of self-defence.

Week 1 – releasing from a grab

After an introduction by Gloria, there was a 5 minute ice breaker of getting to know the people sitting near to you.  This seemed to relax most people and they were itching to start!

After an explanation of where the release points are in a grab, and how to release, it was time to partner up and start practising grabbing each other wrists, and two handed grabs.

To start with there was lots of giggling, and easy releasing, until the instructors said to grab and not let go!  The ladies then realised they had to really use their body weight to help release.

At the end of week 1 there were a lot of red wrists, but everyone had enjoyed it.

Week 2 – direct attack using hands

Week 2 was led by Lisa, and after a re-cap of the previous weeks releases, it was onto direct attacks using the hands only.  This involved teaching a number of attacks, such as fingers in the eyes, upper cut punch to the chin, cupped hand / knife hand to the jaw / ear.  This involved having some control when carrying out the attack, so as not to accidently hit somebody in the eye, or break someone’s jaw!

The one technique they didn’t find very enjoyable was pushing a finger into the throat area, but they could see how effective it could be.

Week 3 – direct attack using legs

Week 3 was led by Kelly, and after a re-cap of the last 2 weeks releases, it was onto direct attacks using the legs and feet.

This involved learning a kick / knee to the groin, stamping on the foot (one or two got a bit carried away at this point and actually stamped on someone’s toes!).  They were also taught to rub the foot down the shin, which surprised a few of the ladies as to just how much it could hurt someone.

Week 4 – direct attacks against kick shields

It was time to pump up the music, and get the kick shields out, oh and a little bit of fitness!   The group was split into three smaller groups, whilst the three instructors held the kick shields.  The ladies put into practice what they had learnt over the last 3 weeks, and we also incorporated shouting as they did a direct attack against the kick shield.

As they approached the kick shield, each instructor shouted “grab” and then it was all about a quick reaction, and hitting the pad hard and running to the next group, so they were constantly on the move and swapping instructors.

At the end of the class there were lots of sore red knuckles, and tiredness, but amazement at just how hard they could hit something!

At the end of the class, after feeling the power the ladies had, the instructors were starting to feel sorry for our week 6 volunteers…………………….

Week 5 – releasing from a neck grab, waist grab, and being pinned to the floor

The ladies were shown how to get out of being grabbed around the neck, and the importance of trying to free the windpipe first, before getting out of the actual hold.  They were then taught how to release from someone grabbing you from behind, firstly just around the waist (arms free), and then around the shoulders (arms trapped).  The easiest way was to do a direct attack using the legs and feet.

At this stage we tried to get them to imagine this was a real life situation and really shout (get off me, I am being attacked), to alert others to the situation.  They were a very polite bunch, as there was no swearing!

We then incorporated all the grabs that had been learnt over the last few weeks.  The instructors also grabbed people unexpectedly, and it was good to see how quick their reactions were now.

Week 6 – beating up the men!

Whilst Gloria was psyching the ladies up in the Dojang, Lisa was upstairs with the 7 guinea pigs volunteers, who were looking a little apprehensive as to what they had let themselves in for!  After putting on their full protective gear (pads, gum shield and box) they were ready to be beaten up in the name of self-defence!

As the lights in the Dojang went out, the men were led into the Dojang, where the ladies were wondering what was going to happen.   One man was put with two ladies and then what they had learnt over the last 5 weeks, was put into practice.

The men were told to grab tightly and not let go, so it was realistic.  Each lady was grabbed by the wrists, around the neck, around the waist, and those that wanted too were pinned down by the men.  If they could, they tried to release, if not a direct attack was necessary.  A few upper cuts to the jaw, punches to the stomach, kicks to various parts of the body were witnessed, but the ladies succeeded and got out of the grabs.

After 30 minutes, most of the victims and volunteers looked like they were fit to collapse, but it opened their eyes, that in a realistic situation they could get away.

Feedback from the men was that the ladies reaction times were straight away, and they were tough!

All of the ladies felt they had gained confidence to be able to defend themselves should the situation ever arise.

The instructors felt it has been a successful 6 week course, with a fantastic bunch of ladies, and hopefully the first of many courses that will be run.