Women’s self-defence classes on the rise amid safety concerns


A Vauxhall-based gym has seen a large increase in enrolment for its women’s self-defence classes, according to the owner.

Kes Kpokpogri, 42, director and owner of the Urban Warriors Academy, emphasised the importance of giving women the tools to defend themselves in dangerous spaces.

Against the backdrop of a significant increase in violent attacks against women, the academy offers women’s self-defence classes in an effort to empower them in vulnerable situations.

The academy has been open since November 2013. Through his years as a coach, Kpokpogri has noted a stark difference between his male and female students, with women showing interest in learning martial arts as a means of self-defence while men tend to attend classes recreationally. 

Kpokpogri said: “The gym promotes four times more to women than to men and there has been a significant uptake in enrolment.”  

As the owner of the gym, he carries his experience from working with domestic violence charity, Action Breaks Silence, for the last twenty years. 

The charity estimates that 85,000 women are raped and over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year. 

Given the scale of violence against women, the charity employs a multifaceted approach to self-defence, considering the complications of fighting back against domestic abuse. Kpokpogri integrates this framework into the martial arts defence classes at his academy. 

He said: “Here’s the realistic part about many self-defence situations. It’s easy to defend yourself against a stranger. It’s hard when you have to defend yourself against someone you love. 

“When there’s someone that you care about that you’ve known for a long time and they start to abuse you, you can be at a loss. We have to give women the physical and mental tools to set boundaries and protect them.”

According to Rape Crisis England & Wales, fewer than 2 in 100 rapes recorded by police in 2022 resulted in a charge that same year.

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