Singapore felt extraordinarily safe and I never thought twice about catching public transport home late at night. Sure, bad things did happen but as the local news rarely reported anything more serious than a handbag theft, you had a rather unrealistic sense of safety.
But particularly now that I’m walking home in the dark along dimly-lit streets while the media goes into a frenzy every time something goes bump in the night, my thoughts have turned to personal safety. How safe is Melbourne?
I’d always said that if I had a daughter, I’d get her involved in some sort of martial art so that if she was attacked or confronted in any way, she’d have some skills to try and fight her way out of the situation. She started karate two years ago, and we’ve found an excellent dojo in Melbourne to continue her training. Rightly or wrongly, I enrolled the boys in as well and I’m dreading the day they use their new-found skills in daily squabbles. But, I’m hoping that anything they learn will reduce their risk of becoming a victim.
With that in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the Female Urban Combat course that Samurai Karate were offering in my area. Sensei Paul Mitchell has been running self-defence courses for women in Australia for over 33 years. He runs them free-of-charge and is passionate about empowering women to defend themselves. Donations raised on the day went directly to support White Ribbon.
The emphasis of his training was not just to teach you how to survive a dangerous situation, but how to avoid getting into that situation in the first place.
We spent an enjoyable day learning how to punch, kick, elbow and eye-gouge along with safety techniques for day-to-day situations. Travelling on public transport, approaching your car in a car park – even walking down a crowded street should require a high level of awareness of your surroundings and Sensei Paul taught us well. He made it crystal clear that simple, everyday things that we do – like being plugged into your phone while you’re walking, or wearing your backpack properly on both shoulders – will significantly increase your risk of becoming a victim.
I can’t thank Sensei Paul and his team of volunteers enough for the skills he’s shown me. I hope I never need to use the direct conflict techniques but have definitely taken onboard the other skills he spoke about.
The course is open to females aged 15 and over and it’s a day that every women should experience. I urge you to register online and find out where his next course will be.