The brutal gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in Delhi last month seems to have affected the psyche of young women in the city and also impelled authorities to help train girls in self defence. Ever since the horrific rape of Nirbhaya, city girls are queuing up before various types of self-defence centres to learn martial arts. From Taiji Kando, a form of Karate, to Kung Fu and basic fighting techniques, women are learning all that it takes to save their lives in crisis. The increase in number is anywhere between 25 and 60, depending on the capacity of the training centres, owners said. Cashing in on the need for self-defence techniques, academies in the city have introduced short-term and long-term programmes for women. The programmes range between 15 days and six months for the age group of 16 to 28 years. The coaching centres have also employed women trainers for the comfort of students. The fee range is anywhere from Rs 1,500 to Rs 6,000 depending on the course. “We have always had women clients but the numbers have grown by over 20% in the last few weeks,” said owner of a training centre located in Naryanguda.
Not just girls, AP State Road Transport Corporation authorities are also planning to provide training to their 7,000-odd drivers in self-defence techniques soon. A proposal in this regard is awaiting clearance from the higher authorities of APSRTC. City girls who have been attending classes said that martial arts training was helping them improve their confidence. “Three of my friends have decided to join a martial arts training course. There has been a general worry about the safety of women after the gruesome rape incident came to light,” said Sreya Peddireddy, a 17-year-old, who joined a self defence academy. Trainers at Life Leader, a personality development institute, said that several teenage girls had enrolled for their 45-minute training programme. “Training in martial arts gives the necessary strength to tackle any situation,” said Sunitha Manikeswar, a 21-year-old software professional who enrolled in Swarna Defence academy.
Girls said they have given up on their gym lessons and aerobics classes to get training in martial arts. “I used to take two hours of aerobics lessons till recently. But martial arts has changed not just my looks but also my confidence level,” said Manjula Varma, an 18-year-old who has enrolled in a defence academy. “One of our students who joined classes two weeks ago was molested while going on a college trip. Since then she had not attended her B Tech third year classes. But after just one week of karate training, she resumed her studies and her parents are more than relieved. Martial arts is also a stress buster,” said Sharmila Rodriguez, a trainer with the Third Eye training centre.