For Satish Velaga, cycling 650 km between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam was part of his larger mission to motivate schoolgirls to learn martial arts for self-defence

Perhaps there is no better approach to drive home the message that self-protection is the only way to resist violence against women. True to his spirit, Satish Velaga, 28, a financial executive from Hyderabad, took up the arduous task of cycling 650 kilometres between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam to motivate school girls to learn martial arts. A firm believer in self-protection, Velaga says it is the parents’ responsibility to encourage their daughters to train in martial arts.

“I did not want to just sit and sympathise with women facing all kinds of abuse. So, I decided to visit as many schools as possible during my journey and convince girls to learn the art of self-protection. Every girl student should learn martial arts from a young age, and schools should include self-defence classes in the curriculum,” he attests.

Velaga’s journey started on January 17 from Hyderabad. He passed through Chityala, Suryapet, Vijayawada, Tadepalligudem, Rajahmundry, Annavaram and reached Visakhapatnam on January 27. On his way, he met girl students from more than 10 schools and colleges. “I cycled in the evening and visited schools during the day. Women everywhere are asserting equality in various sectors, but they are not dwelling much on developing their physical strength. More than muscle power, mental strength is necessary to take on men physically,” he says.

Velaga is no stranger to long-distance travel. “As part of Saddlesore, a bike riding challenge of US-based Ironbutt Association, I travelled 1,675 kilometres between Visakhapatnam and Chennai (to and fro) within 24 hours in 2011.

This time, I chose cycle and interacted with girl students on my way,” he says.

Apart from encouraging girls take up martial arts, Velaga says parents, too, should create an atmosphere at home wherein girls can talk openly without inhibition.

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