There were 40 women at the self-defense workshop in Claremont High School hall, but you would not have guessed it at the volume of our collective shouting.

Chandresh Lad, master instructor at Harrow Choi Kwang Do School, was trying to teach us a simple technique with which to take a possible attacker by surprise and rebalance the power, without any physical force.

“If someone is following you, if they’re going to attack you, then they have looked at you and decided you are an easy target. You have to show them that you’re not.”

That could simply be by shouting at them as they approach you, however the lacklustre shouting that followed from all of us revealed that this might not be quite so simple.

We all needed to practice our shouting, and so we did.

The aim of the two hour class was to teach us techniques such as this, which might prevent an attack, as well as how to protect ourselves.

As we moved on to simple punches and kicks, focusing on our stance so that we could have the most efficient and effective blow, Chandresh and his six fellow instructors walked around watching us practice and correcting our technique.

Throughout the class he drilled into us that strength and skill was not a priority. At the start there were questions of where to aim, or where to kick if you were much shorter than your attacker.

“Anywhere. It doesn’t matter,” he told us, visibly impassioned.

Soon his simple goal for us to leave the workshop better equipped to defend ourselves than when we arrived sank in and everybody began to worry a little less, and punch a little more.

Towards the end of the class we learned a couple of moves which will sound complicated, but I was astonished at how simple and effective they were.

Chandresh taught us how to get out of a head lock, a strangle grip and even how to get out of a situation in which your attacker is straddling you.

He pointed out where an attackers weaknesses were and what moves will take back the control of a situation, making you the strongest one in a tussle.

We practised in partners. Around the room there were murmurs of surprise at how effective these moves were. The same thought was running through my mind as I wriggled away from my partner, or threw her off me while lying flat on my back, with little difficulty.

Chandresh goes into schools and teaches self-defense. I remember somebody coming to do the same when I was at school but I learnt nothing of value.

I am not going to tell you I feel safe from attack, or that I would be able to confidently execute what I was taught.

I can, however, honestly tell you that I now believe I would have a fighting chance - excuse the pun - of both preventing an attack and defending myself if the worst did come to the worst. Hopefully to the point where my attacker gives up.

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