An ex semi-pro baseball player turned Urban Krav Maga professional is on a mission to help London’s women feel safer and stronger through self-defence.
Whilst it is a crucial change in male behaviours and attitudes towards women and girls that is needed, Peckham-based Urban Fit and Fearless instructor Patrice Bonnafoux, 46, said self-defence systems are proven to increase women’s safety and protect against sexual assault.
The martial arts system emphasises functionality and leverage rather than strength and is based on swift reactions, making it particularly effective against bigger and stronger opponents.
Bonnafoux said: “Roughly 50% of my students are women and that’s compared to 10% which is usual in other classes, so I’m well aware of their concerns and circumstances.”
He has also noted more enquiries from mothers seeking self-defence classes for their daughters following the death of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared whilst walking home from a friend’s house near Clapham Common to Brixton Hill in March.
Bonnafoux added: “I’ve had more mothers enquiring for their teenage daughters.
“They are concerned for their daughter’s safety in terms of abduction and being assaulted, they all have sexual assault in mind.
“I am trying to teach people to defend themselves physically so I don’t know if that in itself will prevent more aggression, probably not.
“Where I hope it will make a difference is with the philosophical part of the class which is teaching respect and encouraging guys to stand up for women, because it is a male issue, so I think it is leading by example.”
Until then, learning some practical and functional self-defence skills can only be a good thing.