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Learning self-defense techniques is need of the hour for both men and women
Few days ago, a student of Presidency University was attacked for wearing shorts and smoking, by a group of men allegedly owing allegiance to a local political leader. The spine chilling incident of a twenty-three year old paramedical student being gang raped on a moving bus, in the nation's capital in 2012 is still afresh in our memories.

In our country adolescent girls and women have often been stalked. Eve-teasing and voyeurism being very common crime committed against women. According to the Crime in India 2014, a total of 3,37, 922 cases of crime against women (both under various sections of Indian Penal Code; and Special and Local Laws) were reported in the country during the year 2014 as compared to 3,09, 546 in the year 2013, thus showing an increase of 9.2 per cent during the year 2014.

On April 1, 2016, Jatin Ahuja, a software engineer, while travelling by a Volvo bus was attacked by a few co-passengers, when he requested the bus conductor to put the loud music off. The music was being played inside the bus. Few co-passengers who were enjoying the loud music, got annoyed with him and a verbal clash took place. The verbal clash was followed by hitting and kicking. Such incidents are very frequent in public transport in Kolkata. Jatin used self defense techniques and saved himself from the attackers. In today's world both men and women are equally vulnerable to any kind of physical attack and violence. Learning self defense techniques is the need of the hour.

On April 3, 2016, a workshop was held at Gallery K2, Supra Court, Lansdown terrace near Deshapriya Park, in Kolkata, by the Seventh Chakra Arts for Self Preservation (7CASP). This organization was founded in 2011, under Sifu/ Guru Satyaki Gupta's guidance with a few students to provide functional unarmed or armed combat, combat fitness awareness and strategy training in India rooted in authentic Jeet Kune Do Concept, Filipino Martial Arts and Indonesian Silat as taught by Sifu/ Guru/ Tuhon Dan Inosanto.

The workshop aimed at training young men and women in basic self-defense techniques. The workshop focused on how to use parts of body in a scientific manner. In simplistic terms, it implies applying elementary physics such as fight against the motion with the motion. No matter whatever is the size, weight, or strength in relation to the opponent, an individual can defend oneself by strategically using the body and by simply following the laws of physics.

The trainers follow the philosophy 'prevention is better than cure'. They always hint to avoid confrontation but when attacked, body parts should be effectively used to hit and kick the assailant. The aim is to hit vulnerable parts of the body, where one can do the most damage. At this workshop women learn how to evade eve-teasers by 'washing hands techniques'; how to remove hands within fraction of a second when a guy tries to forcefully drag a girl; how to defend oneself by use of hands and elbows when attackers use knives.

A stick or any type of blunt weapon, with appropriate foot work and hands, can be used to defend from an attacking object. In case of sexual assault everyday objects such as bags, shoes, cell phones, can be used as a weapon. The attacker should be hit diagonally resembling the English alphabet 'X'. The participants learn how to use forms of kicks and pushes such as an arm drag push, quickly and effectively. For example, disentangle oneself from the grip of an attacker by disabling him with a punch or kick.

Sujata Mehta (name changed), a research scholar in a reputed government organization, participated in this workshop. As a teenager she had been sexually assaulted twice. Once she tried to confront, but failed. Moreover she hails from a politically disturbed area. With incidents of crime committed against women escalating in Kolkata, she feels such workshops are essentially required and are beneficial to the society, at large. According to her, 'the aim is not to attack but to defend thyself and get back to the family safe and sound. Such workshops help participants to confront real life hardships confidently. She feels every working woman should participate in such self defense courses. Sujoy Dasgupta, faculty member in the department of Geology, Asutosh College, emphasized on the inclusive aspect followed by his Guru Satyaki Gupta.

According to him Gupta gives individual participants liberty to develop themselves, allowing people to achieve their potential at their own pace. It is a two-way learning process and Gupta is receptive to ideas and suggestions of his students. According to him such basic self-defense techniques teaches self restrain. The participants are taught to assess the situation, evade and escape any developing situation as much as possible and only if necessary, apply the defensive techniques to protect one self.

Subhoroop Ghosh, a scientific analyst and management professional, is associated with the 7CASP from 2013. He had acquired martial art training in school. In 2013, he saw an event notification on facebook regarding a seminar on martial art. He participated in that seminar which proved to be the turning point in his life. For him martial art is not about fighting but it is a way of life. According to him the main objective of such workshop is to help people to prepare for a real-life situation on the streets or anywhere and to confront and act as and how they come.

One of the highlights of this workshop is that the finances gathered have been donated to the relief fund of the Indian Army, for the victims of the avalanche in Siachen. According to Prajna Dutta, an inter-disciplinary artist and a film-maker, 'the main aim of such workshops is always to sensitize the participants about reality based combat situations using simple techniques. Training with the 7CASP is a great experience'. He too reiterated that it is not just about fitness, well being and self defense, but a way of life.

Such workshops are conducted to teach participants not to use excessive force. Even legal matters related to such techniques are discussed with the participants. The aim is to train realistically so that participants learn to confront 'real life situations' with confidence. The participants are given time to practice with senior group members from the organization. The workshop enhances the physical and mental strength and boasts the confidence of the participants leading to an overall development of the personality of an individual. The workshop concluded with a question and answer session where Satyaki Gupta answered the queries of the participants. Such workshops benefit people from all walks of life and should be organized in corporate firms, government and non-government organizations. In educational institutions self defense techniques should be made part of the regular curriculum.

Acknowledgements

I express my sincere gratitude to Prajna Dutta for inviting me to attend the workshop, providing me with the photographs and giving his valuable opinion on this workshop. I am also thankful to Subhoroop Ghosh and Sujoy Dasgupta for speaking to me, reviewing the article, sharing their views and suggestions with me. Without their help and cooperation the article would not have seen the light of the day.

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