Nairobi News

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When martial arts come in handy


Last August, Mary Wangige and her friend were driving home from Westlands when they were attacked by thugs near Museum Hill.

The gang robbed them of valuables at gunpoint and threatened to kill them. The incident left Wangige so traumatised that she had to take time off from work to get over the ordeal.

At that point of reflection, the friend with whom she was attacked telephoned to inform her she had begun taking self-defence and women rape prevention classes at the Mixed Martial Arts Institution in Westlands.

“I thought she was joking until she showed me some moves that impressed me. That prompted me to enroll, too,” Wangige told Nairobi News.

For the last two months, Mary and her friend have been attending the classes where they are taught self-defence skills.

“Insecurity is on the rise and we all need skills that can help us in the event of an attack. If we do nothing, we become vulnerable,” she added.

The centre, which was set up two months ago, now has over 30 people registered for a variety of courses.

The martial arts institution is ran by James Bobby Ware a sixth degree black belt with a ‘professor’ rank, assisted by Michael Odede, the head instructor and a first degree black belt.

Odede said mixed martial arts is a new sport in Kenya, which will take time to grow.

“Unlike the other martial arts centres, our main aim is to teach people self-defence tactics and fitness,” said Odede.

Rape prevention 

The courses offered at the center cater for the young and old. They range from adult self defence, women rape prevention classes, fitness, kids’ martial arts and combative training for military and police departments.

Odede said insecurity in Nairobi and other areas has forced people to look for ways of protecting themselves and many have turned to martial arts.

“Most of our clients are people who come to us in need of fitness and skills to help them in times of danger,” he told Nairobi News.

The centre teaches two types of martial arts — Kenpo karate and Jiujitsu. Kenpo helps a person to defend themselves while standing, jiujitsu is meant to aid a person who is attacked and pushed to the ground.

Other forms of martial arts are Brazilian Jiujitsu, kickboxing and wrestling.

The self-defence school teaches battle-tested techniques that not only help you to protect yourself but also build your self-confidence to make you less likely to be a victim.

From simple moves to more complex ones, mixed martial arts have a lot of benefits.

Odede, a biochemistry graduate from the University of Nairobi, said the sport has helped him in decision making, discipline and improved his fitness.

“If you think learning martial arts is only about becoming strong and being able to beat anyone, then you’re wrong. Force should always be the last resort, try and avoid a conflict through other means,” he advises.

Martial arts is not as popular as football or rugby, but the instructors are confident it can grow because of its long term benefits.

At the end of the training, which is usually a three-months period, the trainee acquires better defence skills, concentration, focus, confidence, motivation and physical fitness.

“I strongly feel in today’s society every adult should take up some form of martial arts training. Children should know how to defend themselves, have strong character, confidence and motivation to succeed in life,” said Ware.