Florence women fight back

Women 14 years old and up are welcome at the Shuri Te Karate Class offered in Florence. (courtesy photo)

Women’s self-defense class offered locally

Oct. 8, 2021 — Fear is a cumbersome emotion. It can weigh people down. Walk through life scared and, inevitably, one will be preoccupied with the fear they feel. Luckily, there are effective ways to combat fear, the most effective of which may be preparation.

Fear comes from the unknown. When a person is prepared, it significantly reduces what is unknown. For women looking to be prepared, for whatever may come their way, a class is being offered every Tuesday here in Florence

The class teaches Shuri Te Karate, one of the Okinawan martial arts which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island in Japan.

“Shuri Te is all about respect and defense,” said class organizer Sabrina Hand. “There’s no tournaments. You don’t go fight people. It’s not about how big or tough you are. It’s about using the right techniques to defend yourself.”

The class, taught by Sensei Charlie Evans, is open to women ages 14 and up. Exceptions may be made for students under 14, but must be approved by sensei and accompanied by guardian. All physical fitness levels are welcome.

Shuri Te Karate is also the perfect discipline for self-defense because it doesn’t require a specific physical fitness level or exceptional strength or size.

“My middle daughter is five-foot-five and 100 pounds soaking wet,” said Hand. “She can take a large man down using what she’s learned. It’s not about brute force. It’s about skill.”

This class is also unique in that it provides a women-only environment.

“I feel like having a women’s only class helps women who might not be comfortable in a mixed setting,” said Hand. “I’ve heard some of my daughter’s teenage friends say things like ‘I’d love to learn self-defense, but I could never do that in a room where there is a boy my age.’ This class provides that opportunity.”

Violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of human rights. This violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health.

Another reason women need a self-defense class is the fact that they are more likely than men to be victims of violence. The statistics bear that out.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence from an intimate partner, compared to one in seven men. One in seven women have been stalked while only one in 18 men. One in seven women have been injured by an intimate partner, while for men it is one in 25.

The list could go on and on — but all the statistics show it is simply more dangerous to be a woman in the world today than a man. This is a strong argument for a women’s only self-defense class such as this one.

“We’re trying to make a more equal world for our daughters,” said Hand. “We’re not saying they need to be more like the boys. We’re saying we want to raise strong women who can walk through life with the confidence men enjoy.”

This class can also be a self-esteem builder for women.

“This class isn’t for women who walk through life talking about how they ‘Don’t take crap from no one,’” Hand added. “This is for women who might be timid, uncomfortable with their bodies or afraid to learn in a room with guys. Inevitably, these are the women who are targeted. These are the ones that need to learn self-defense techniques.”

The class is every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the dojo at 1232 17th Place, Space E (off Kingwood Street) in Florence.

Starting with the first class is not required and much can be learned from each individual class. The cost is $40 per person, per month (four classes). A $10 discount is offered per family member, making the cost $70 for two.

People can contact Sabrina Hand at 541-999-5184 for details about this specific class.

According to Hand, the sensei asks that students wear comfortable fitting clothing with no metal or plastic pieces (like leggings and a t-shirt) for the first few classes. A Karate Gi is required after one month of attendance.

Evans also offers adult and children’s Karate and self-defense classes. People can contact him at 541-515-0805 for details.