It is important to rid the mind of fear as that is one way to rebuff potential attackers, say self-defence expert

On Women’s Day, the ladies at Pink Fitness One, Cross-cut Road, took a break from the treadmills, exercise bikes, and weights to join a workshop for self-defence called “Be fit to fight”, organised by the gym. The speakers of the day, Shalini Somesh, a consultant psychologist for women and children, and Francis Xavier, Taekwondo and Karate instructor, spoke to the ladies about the importance of a healthy mind, a fit body and self-defence.

Dr. Shalini Somesh began the session, with a question. “How do you respond when someone scolds you?” It would spoil their whole day, was the consensus. But, Shalini said that it is important to let go of certain incidents and only take in what is necessary in life. “You cannot be sensitive and fragile. You have to build your emotional stamina.” She stressed on the importance of being systematic. “If you are disorganised, you naturally become more stressful and worried.”

And anxiety can make us physically unfit, she explained. “It leads to heart diseases, acidity and fat accumulation in the body.” India has a worrying number of women fighting depression, she said. “And, we have hardly 3000 professionals to cure them.”

While Dr. Shalini spoke about mental strength, Francis Xavier emphasised on the importance of physical fitness. “Women should take up rock climbing and trekking.”

Francis, who has also conducted several women’s awareness and sensitization programmes in colleges, said the inability of women to react stems mainly from the fear factor. Women often feel they are physically weaker than men. And the attacker picks up on this fear. And the woman becomes an easy target, he said. He added, “To fight the attacker, you need to drive that fear away.”

He recounted an incident in Coimbatore, when a woman was once groped by a man. “She held on to him and screamed out. He could not escape! He was handed over to the police by the people. Now, you can do this only if you do not get flustered by the touch. If you get scared, you will lose your ability to think.”

He demonstrated a few self-defence techniques, with the help of his assistant. The women split up into teams and tried out the techniques on their partners. The workshop ended as the physiotherapist of Pink Fitness One demonstrated a few stretches. Many found the workshop extremely informative. Shabna, a homemaker said, “I found the workshop useful. I am going to share all these tips with my little daughter, once I reach home.”