x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Beginner's guide to self-defence

Streetwise, a kung-fu-inspired programme, aims to help people defend themselves and prevent confrontations.

Streetwise, a kung-fu-inspired programme, aims to help people defend themselves and prevent confrontations.



"I'm trying to break the barrier that Dubai is so safe," says Nigel Prasad, a self-defence and kung fu instructor in Dubai. It has been a challenge, he admits, to explain to prospective clients why self-defence is important in a city with little crime. One tactic, he says, has been to introduce people to security guards from local clubs who "pump reality into my clients". The majority of violence here is alcohol-related, Prasad says, and the guards have stories to share.

Prasad pumps his own bit of reality when he talks about people getting attacked with bottles ("if you get a glass bottle to your face, you are finished"). He also mentions the stabbing death of a woman in the Ibn Battuta car park in March and the fact that 90 per cent of attacks involve weapons or multiple attackers. It's not fear-mongering, he adds, it's a reality check for residents in a country with a seemingly immaculate safety record.

Prasad wants to help people defend themselves and prevent confrontations, so he founded Streetwise, a kung-fu-inspired programme. He currently has 35 clients whom he teaches in private sessions and groups. (It costs Dh1,200 for 12 sessions, or Dh120 an hour.) The classes have a significant fitness component, because endurance is essential in any form of self-defence. But Prasad says he never encourages people to fight; instead, Streetwise teaches its clients to diffuse a situation. His first lesson: avoid a group of people who look like trouble, especially if alcohol is around. But if avoiding a confrontation is not possible, then Prasad says protecting yourself physically is the last resort. Here are some of his self-defence tips, kung fu style.