While the Delhi gang-rape has evoked different reactions from various sections of society, it cannot be denied that it has left the young girls apprehensive about their safety. But here is a group of girls who have not let that apprehension take over their lives.

They have grabbed the first opportunity that has come their way to make themselves physically fit, defend themselves against someone attacking them, and also attack in return.

Girl students of Karpagam University have started learning Taekwondo and Karate besides normal fitness exercises from January 8. The training is for a month.

When the Women Development Cell of Karpagam University thought of offering a self-defence training programme for girl students of its institutions on an optional basis, it did not imagine that it will receive such a huge response.

P. Premalatha, Co-ordinator of the training, says that the very first batch has over 100 students, while as many students have already registered for the next batch that will begin after a month.

The university has been able to kick-start the initiative without any hitch because all of its resources are in-house. The training has been designed by A. Pushparajan, Dean of the Department of Physical Education of the university, while the Taekwondo and Karate classes are handled by student instructors. The space is provided by the institution, and hence the training is offered free of cost to students.

“Though it is about self-defence, the focus is evenly distributed on physical fitness, defending by escaping from the opponent by running, punching, kicking, and also attacking. They will be 40 per cent fit in the basics in one month, after which constant practice will make them accomplish higher levels of mastery,” Mr. Pushparajan says.

M. Sasikala, a first year B.Sc. student, who has five years’ experience in the martial art form, along with another student A. Padma, trained in Taekwondo, handle the Taekwondo classes. S. Sasipriya, a second year B.Sc. student, trained in Karate for seven years, handles the Karate classes. All three are winners in various tournaments.

Just three days into the training, participating students are very happy with their progress. N. Sneha, a biotechnology student, says that their self-confidence is already a notch higher.

“We are in our own campus and learning from our own friends / classmates. We cannot ask for more. We are eager to master the techniques. This training has come as a refreshing change when most of us were at a low ebb after the Delhi incident,” she says.

Also, the students are encouraged to learn the martial arts in everyday clothes so that they learn to master all the actions wearing any kind of clothes, which they will use in normal day-to-y life.

Ms. Premalatha adds that once the first batch completes the training, some will be identified from the batch to train the next batch of students.

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