How a Facebook Event Could Save My Life

Hannah Daygo

A few days ago, I went to a Facebook event for my assignment. You’re probably wondering why I attended a Facebook event and why, in worst-case scenarios, it could be lifesaving.

I believe it was after my lunch break when I found this event on Facebook. I’ve been looking all over Google for a scheduled event that I could attend for my news reporting assignment. I was fortunate to find this free self-defence seminar for women created by the Krav-Maga Academy.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I should go because the deadline was still two weeks away. However, I also kept in mind that it had been two weeks since the attack in Tullamore, which took the life of Ashling Murphy. I was devastated when I heard about the news, and I became scared of walking alone at night or early in the morning.

Considering that I’m just 5’0 tall and I want to protect myself, I also wanted my assignment to be finished early because I’m highly unorganised. I decided to hit two birds with one stone. I booked myself in for a class.

I contacted the teacher over WhatsApp and signed up for the session. Of course, I asked for his permission to interview him for my assignment, to which he agreed. He even stated that other women would be willing to be interviewed.

Self-defence

Two days later after I sent the message, I arrived at the Krav-Maga gym where they held their weekly classes. There, I met Pavel Pascha Hroch, the owner of the Kingdom Fighting and Fitness in Kilcoole.

Pavel, 42, said that they began teaching the Krav Maga seminar for women after Ruth Maxwell, a victim of an attack in Dublin in 2016, contacted Pavel to begin self-defence training. Which ran for over three years alongside her, but it was sparked once again following what happened to Ashling Murphy.

The class started after he gave us a briefing, I noticed women of all ages inside the gym. The class was full, with 24 ladies, including me, we were eager to learn actual self-defence techniques.

He gradually taught us, step by step, how to target and hit someone in the event of an assault. I remember him saying, “just imagine all your anger landing on someone, punch, kick on the groin, and then look around just in case someone’s there, then run.”

At 21, I honestly don’t know any martial arts or any type of self-defence to protect myself before I tried Krav Maga. I think learning this type of self-defence is very timely, especially when women these days are prone to random attacks.

As I looked around the room, I saw how women gained the confidence to protect themselves. Pavel also demonstrated how to evade a back choke assault, “make sure your neck is free because one thing you need to know is that you don’t pass out,” he said before teaching us how to fight.

Fear and panic are two things that can mess me up. After learning the skills to defend myself in a realistic situation, I realised that being aware is the best thing anyone can do for themselves before fighting back. That two-hour free seminar gave us awareness on how to protect ourselves. I’m telling you; it was worth it.

Reality

Before everyone left, I spoke with Ruby and Ashley, two fifteen-year-olds, about their experience: “It’s definitely a good thing to learn from a young age… and teaching women how to defend themselves is helping,” they concluded.

During my interview with Mr. Hroch, he emphasized that Krav Maga is not just for women, stating that men can be assaulted as well and that Krav Maga is a skill that anybody can practice.

“Because everybody could get attacked, everyone should learn,” said Mr. Hroch.

In his opinion, it should be mandatory in schools and colleges. In fact, he said that “the government should support it as well.

Students at the Krav Maga Academy, Kasia Tutek and Joanna Pasek, believe it should be made necessary in schools because it can happen anywhere, including on the streets, in stores, and even in schools.

“You don’t have to have the background to learn Krav Maga; you could be a 6-year-old or older; it’s for everyone,” Kasia acknowledged.

Joanna advises everyone to “go, see, and train for a while to learn the basics.” She also suggested that if you are in a scenario where someone attempts to assault you, “just do something.”

While I am writing this, another attack took place in Kilkenny on the 31st of January.  A 17-year-old girl was attacked and fortunately escaped from her assailant.

It is terrible that such violent attacks happen and that we are pressured to learn how to defend ourselves. Why can’t we just live in a peaceful place where people don’t assault one another on the street?

I agree with everyone’s standpoint; it should be supported and funded by the government as well as provide everyone with the opportunity to learn and defend themselves in the event of an attack.

It’s unfortunate that we must do it, but we have no choice but to fight for our lives.

Hannah Daygo

Image Credit: Hannah Daygo