SAO PAULO – Being constantly on the lookout and never letting anyone dominate you – that is some of the advice for women’s self-defense in Brazil, where several cases of sexual abuse have recently sounded the alarm in the South American country.
In Sao Paulo, where a woman is raped every 11 minutes, 29-year-old Aline Funke has been learning self-defense techniques for the past five years that include many methods of prevention and reaction to protect herself both physically and emotionally.
“Self-defense has no rules and the intensity of the techniques employed depends on an analysis of each situation,” Ricardo Nakayama, the black-belt originator of the Sotai system, told EFE.
In his classes, Ricardo places his students in the “worst possible scenarios” and has them practice different moves to escape the claws of possible aggressors, such as those who in recent weeks have molested a number of women on Sao Paulo’s public transport system.
“We have to develop muscular memory so that movements come automatically,” Nakayama said.
Should defense be required, women at risk can snap the aggressor on the upper lip or throat with a single finger, or else scratch him in the eyes, which can injure the cornea and give the victim a window of opportunity to escape.
The palm of the hand can be used to hit the attacker’s nose, Nakayama said, whereas a bite with the teeth is useful when the woman is grabbed.
“We work at eliminating the fear of hurting the adversary. Fear must be turned into anger,” the teacher said.
One of the main goals of the self-defense classes is that students learn to establish a safety zone and to always avoid a posture of submission: “Women must never let themselves be dominated because there will always be a chance to escape.”
Funke said that with her knowledge of self-defense, she now feels less afraid and has learned to expose people who are “cornering” her.
“As a result of the classes we remain more on the alert and act preventively. Nowadays when I get on a bus, I never give anyone the chance to molest me,” Funke said.