Tom Odula of the Associated Press recently reported on an intriguing trend in Kenyan culture. Apparently more and more women of grandmotherly age are enrolling in self defense classes to protect themselves from rape attacks that are rampant across the country.
Last year one Nairobi hospital treated 437 rape victims over the age of 60. Another hospital treated 223. These are two samplings that hardly represent all the cases occurring. Much as it is in other countries, many rapes are not reported due to the shame of the event and the belief that nothing can be done about it.
Unfortunately, for elderly women in Kenya, that belief has some truth to it.
According to most Kenyan citizens there is a distressing lack of interest by officials and police in addressing rape reports. When they do chose to pursue them, officers are easily bribed and coerced to look the other way.
Although rape cases are prevalent in all age groups (including children), the number of elderly victims is disproportionately high. Kenyan men believe that sex with an elderly woman can cure AIDS and bring good fortune. Some who are criminals also believe their sins will be cleansed and they will be absolved of guilt from their transgressions.
Matters In Their Own Hands
The situation is bleak. Many grandmothers in Kenya are responsible for their grandchildren as the younger generations are lost to HIV and AIDS. The grandmas realize that in order to preserve their family, they cannot rely on police and external prevention measures.
Sheila Kariuki and her fellow instructors are a rare spark of hope for residents. Kariuki has instituted a self defense program that teaches effective and manageable techniques. Concepts in her course include eye gauging, groin kicks, auditory deterrents, and strikes to the solar plexus. Students like 77-year-old Mary Wanguyi lead the way by training hard and setting strong examples.
These women understand that being kind or subservient to attackers is not an option when their entire family is depending on their survival.
This story is yet another indicator of the importance martial arts and self defense still have in global culture. Technology continues to advance (especially in developed nations), but crimes like rape are the same as they have been for generations.
Even today, in some environments, martial arts are seen as a man’s game. This is a mindset that needs to be eliminated completely. Strong women like Mary Wanguyi are an inspiring example of taking action and empowering people around her.
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I talked about the following concept once before in a previous article but I wanted to re-approach it from a video angle.
When thinking about bunkai, there are many different ways you can dig deeper into the heart of your kata. As a beginner, it is enough to show that you can move your body with proper technique. If you can then use the movements of the kata to avoid getting hit and perhaps even hit the opponent back, then that’s great.
However, as you increase your experience and comfort level, you must begin to ask yourself if you are utilizing technique to its fullest extent. Does the motion you’re doing make sense, and is it an optimal response when put in a common sense context?
The following video explores layers of bunkai by utilizing a piece of the Pinan Shodan kata (note: used in the video are the terms Go No Sen and Sen No Sen).
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Pepsi has recently started something called the “refresh project”. The point of this program is to allow people to pitch and vote for ideas they believe need funding. Pepsi then provides financial backing to the winning ideas.
Although many of the ideas submitted to the refresh project are valuable, few are as vital as research for P.A.N.D.A.S. (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Assoc. with Strep). A fellow karateka made me aware of this disorder and how it is being neglected throughout the medical community. As I am not a medical person by any means, I’ll provide the research project’s description of the disorder:
“When a child contracts strep, antibodies that are aimed to kill the strep turn on the child and begin to ATTACK THEIR BRAIN causing inflammation. This swelling causes dramatic behavior changes. A once “normal” child suddenly has OCD, tics, high anxiety, sensory issues, and more. Most doctors are not aware of the complexity of PANDAS, how it presents itself, or how to treat it. This may lead to a misdiagnosis of clinical OCD, TS, or other mental disorders. Imagine a childhood of unnecessary psychotropic meds, suffering, and unanswered questions. With CORRECT DIAGNOSIS and treatment, remission is possible.”
Dr. Cunningham (research director at the University of Oklahoma) is making great strides in studying and diagnosing the disorder, but needs the $50,000 refresh project grant to make significant headway. The money will be put toward building a means for proper recognition, treatment, and testing for P.A.N.D.A.S.
I’d like to welcome you to vote for this project. Voting requires no commitment on your part besides logging in (you can even connect through Facebook), and they send you no spam or offers after you vote. You can vote once a day, every day until May 31st.
As martial arts instructors one of our goals is to help children build focused and healthful lives. This is another way for us to reach out and help them.
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