Be it martial arts buffs or casual learners, being familiar with self defence skills has its own rewards. This was the crux of a talk titled “Harassment Prevention and Self Defence” held here at Kuch Khaas (KK) on Thursday.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) duo Ehtisham and Nabeel clarified pre-conceived notions about MMA being a form of violence or a gateway to violent behavior. Rather, it is a way of protecting oneself from harassment, they said. “We’re not saying that individuals should carry weapons with themselves but MMA instills an awareness of surrounding and enables people to think in a cautious way,” said Nabeel while describing how even a mere writing pen can be used as a self-defending weapon.
The duo said the most important lesson of self-defence is “run if you can”, which highlights their philosophy that there is no shame in defending oneself by any means, in case of being harassed.
Something as minimal as having an organised bag or cell phone, where your emergency contact is on speed dial can be a prevention and defensive mechanism, said Nabeel. They referred to a dependable emergency contact as an individual’s ‘Superman’. They also cited an Aurat Foundation study in which 80% of the victims were under 30 years, which shows the pressing need for the youth to be empowered and confident.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Nabeel said, “It starts with being bullied at school and can continue on to one’s working life.” In order to prevent such early onset of harassment and under-confidence, the duo are about to start an anti-bullying campaign in schools. They also hope to expand this campaign to the most marginalised children of society.
One aspect of self-protection, especially for young children is of the procedure of hiring help, they said adding “there is no screening process in Pakistan while hiring employees, at best a copy of the ID card is taken but what good does that really do?” asked Nabeel. He encouraged employers to instead ask candidates to show a criminal certificate that can be retrieved from the police in about a week. However, as all kinds of harassment crimes, especially sexual ones, go under-reported this suggestion is a bit problematic itself.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, Rebecca Khattak, an audience member said, “Every person, be it a man, woman or child should know all these things as it can be a matter of simply knowing the basics to protect yourself.” Lessons of practical self-defence will start at KK on Saturday from 1pm to 4pm. The MMA team train at “Fight Fortress” in Sports Complex everyday at from 6pm to 9pm.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated “Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) duo Ehtisham and Nadeem” instead of “Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) duo Ehtisham and Nabeel”. The correction has been made.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.