Black belt mums get their kicks

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A PAIR of high-flying mums say they are getting kicks out of helping women stay safe on the streets.

Pals Debbie Potter (48) and Cathy Henworth (50) have both recently gained their first and second dan black belts in the martial art of ju-jitsu, and are using their self-defence skills to teach other women how to protect themselves.

Called Safe Girls, the unique female-only karate workshops were launched a few months back and have already proved a hit.

Whilst Debbie, who is from Londesborough, and Cathy, from Nunburnholme thought the initial interest would come from young women in the 16-24 age bracket, they have been amazed by how many enquiries they have received from women of all ages, including pensioners.

“We have had grandmothers, mums and daughters enquiring about our workshops,” said Debbie, who runs an online business.

“It would appear that ladies are increasingly aware of their personal safety and see a self-defence course as a way to increase confidence and have that extra piece of mind as they go about their daily lives.

“You do get girls going to martial arts classes, but it’s mainly men and that can put women off.”

Debbie launched Safe Girls after numerous requests from friends and family to teach their teenage daughters some essential self-defence techniques before they went off to college or university, travelling on a gap year or because they were out socialising.

For Debbie though, it is a far cry from how she became interested in martial arts.

“I started with my son about eight years ago, and thought it would be a good idea to help get fit. I just got hooked on it,” she explained.

“For me it’s the discipline and confidence it gives me that if anything did happen I would not just freeze and panic. What really appeals is to work with young people and build up their confidence.

“I remember what it was like to be bullied as a child.

“What has struck me is the number of ladies we have met who say they have had near misses, so to speak, and have been in danger.”

Originating in Japan, ju-jitsu consists largely of grappling and striking techniques, or manipulating an opponent’s force. To become a second dan in the discipline takes years of training and hard work.

However, Debbie points out that it’s more than just physical self-defence techniques.

“We always tell our students that the best form of self-defence is to avoid getting in a difficult situation at all, which is why we also spend time teaching ladies how to deal with panic and avoid becoming a victim in the first place.

“However, should the worse ever happen, we teach ladies a number of highly effective but easy to learn techniques to hopefully keep them out of danger”.

The pair are planning three workshops at Pocklington Methodist Church in July. For details phone 07841 836821.

Although the two friends work at the moment, Debbie admits it would be a dream come true to run the class full time, and already has the support from her husband.

She added: “Cathy’s husband is a black belt in taekwondo, and a brown belt in ju-jitsu...and my husband does not argue with me!”