Parents push for defence courses

By Tara O'Halloran

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A recent attack on a woman jogger at Whangarei's Hatea Loop walkway sparked increased demand for a self-defence class and now Whangarei parents are wanting classes for their children.

A Safe for Life self-defence class was held at NorthTec recently, following the attack on April 30, and some parents who attended have shown interest in their children being taught self-defence and see schools as a good place to hold them.

Dean Baker, senior instructor at Choong Mu Taekwando, said the class was originally only going to be held for NorthTec but due to the sexual assault of the jogger, many women in the community were requesting a class to be held - so he organised another class for the public.

According to international director and founder of Protect Self Defence Phil Thompson on both days the course he was running was packed to capacity.

Diana France, a mum of two young children, attended this course and said if her children were older she would definitely want them to attend a class. She said it provided the knowledge to be able to protect yourself and to be more alert and aware.

Many other mums who attended the course spoke to Mrs France and told her they would sign their teens up if the opportunity was provided.

Whangarei mother Michelle Hunt couldn't make the course but was keen to go along with her 15 year old daughter, Holly. She said if there was a course available in school she would insist that Holly attends.

"that would be quite good for Holly as she does go out running quite a bit."

Knowing Holly had a bit more knowledge about what is out there and about how to defend herself would make the mum-of-two feel a lot more comfortable, she said. Mr Thompson said Protect Self Defence hasn't held any classes in schools in Northland for about six years but said there's a huge opportunity to have classes in high schools here.

He hopes that schools will get in touch with him to start holding classes but said schools are often hesitant about holding classes because they think the students are going to be taught to be violent and lash out at people.

"That's the opposite of what we teach."

Brad Miller, a physical education teacher at Kamo High School, said knowing how to defend yourself is a good life skill to have. He personally could not see any reasons to not hold it in schools. If students felt the need they would definitely consider holding classes.

The classes held by Protect Self Defence teach people about de-escalation and how to understand and see the signs before an assault happens. They have a focus on diffusing or avoiding confrontations.

- Northern Advocate

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