Self defence courses will aid Crisis Centre

A new gym is offering self-defence classes for women who have sought refuge at the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre. 

Ronnie Hughes, owner of The Bootcamp Cayman gym, is introducing a fighting technique called Krav Maga, which is used by the Israeli Defence Force, to Cayman and hopes that women at the Crisis Centre and others throughout Cayman will avail of free classes on offer to help defend themselves. 

Mr. Hughes has personal reasons for wanting to educate people on the techniques of Krav Maga and for having an affinity to the Crisis Centre. 

“Firstly, I had someone very close to me who was a victim of sexual attack, and two, I grew up in an environment where domestic abuse was pretty rife, so I always wanted to empower people to look after themselves. That, and I don’t like bullies,” he said. So, every Wednesday night at the gym at the West Shore Plaza, Mr. Hughes leads a roomful of women in the basics of Krav Maga, in a bid to ensure that if attacked, they can defend themselves and also to build their self-esteem. 

“If you have the confidence to do something or the confidence to know your own capabilities, that’s where self esteem comes in… If you speak to yourself like a victim and carry yourself around like a victim and walk around like a victim, you get treated like a victim, so you can go to all the counsellors in the world but until you empower yourself and realise you are as capable as the next person of defending yourself and you have every right, then I think people become their own counsellors,” said Mr. Hughes. 

“Krav Maga is for anyone, regardless of fitness, age, gender, size, shape or experience,” said Mr. Hughes. Those who attend the weekly free classes are invited to donate any money they can spare, all of which is given to the Crisis Centre. The proceeds of a forthcoming seminar in August led by two top Krav Maga instructors from the United States – David Kahn and Avital Zeisler – will also be donated to the Crisis Centre. 

Ania Milanowska-Sedgley, director of the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, a shelter for abused women and children, said she welcomed the opportunity for the centre’s clients and staff to learn the self-defence techniques. 

She recently visited the Boot Camp gym to check out the facilities and to get a demonstration of Krav Maga from Mr. Hughes. “The facility is spacious and well-equipped. Mr Hughes assured me that regardless of fitness level, strength or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defence techniques.” 

And while there, she got a brief lesson in just how effective those techniques are. 

Mr. Hughes asked her to describe some of the violent situations the clients at the Crisis Centre had experienced. “I provided Mr. Hughes with a couple of scenarios and he demonstrated how to use body language to at first avoid the attack, but if that fails, what self-defence techniques to use to facilitate escape.” 

She added: “Self-defence expands the options of what one can do to get out of a potentially violent situation. For victims of domestic abuse and for anyone who is being attacked, those initial few seconds are critical to stop an assault in its tracks. The most important result of learning self-defence techniques is feeling empowered and confident and I hope that our clients will really benefit from the Krav Maga seminar.” 

Krav Maga was founded in the 1940s by Imi Lichtenfeld, who taught the technique to the Israeli Defence Force. 

Krav Maga Bootcamp

A member of the women’s Krav Maga class takes down Ronnie Hughes. – PHOTO: Luis Vallecillo