The power of self

What makes a woman strong is the way she asserts herself. The biggest challenge for me has been to get Indian women to acknowledge that they can face incidents of attack and even from known members. So they need to empower themselves,” says Martial Vout, Swiss self-defence expert.

Vout came to India first in 2008 “for a six month holiday”. “I chose this country because I had heard about its warm culture. But when I came here I realised that it wasn’t easy for women living in a patriarchal society,” says Vout who decided to come back to this country every few months and make use of his knowledge of self-defence to train women here.

Having been responsible for the security of a number of Hollywood actors, Middle East royalty and VIPs, he felt he “was doing too much for the richest and selfish people of the world. I felt the need to do something for the poverty-stricken.”  

His improvised self-defence technique came in handy to teach those who have limited resources. “We are mammals and like animals we have a natural way of fighting. There are often discussions about promotion of sports and martial arts but according to me, the best way of defending ourselves is through self-defence.”

In the modern age where young girls are taking up self-defence training, Vout suggests that “the mothers should be empowered first. Even today mothers tell their daughters to fix the buttons before they step out of the house.”

His defence techniques and its descriptive documentation in the form of the book I Can Defend Myself are benefitting both the women from the upper strata of the society and the underprivileged women in slums.

“The self-defence tricks taught in the book need not require any special kick-boxing training, or a muscular body. These techniques are basic and natural and are in fact inspired from the way ‘kids’ and ‘animals’ react at situations of fight or war.”

Ask his views about the image of India on the global map for crime against women and he retorts, “Even before the December 16 case, so many incidents had taken place but nobody spoke about them. Suddenly, one case took the attention of all. I didn’t like how the western countries painted India as an awful place to be in, because assaults happen everywhere in the world. The only difference between India and Europe is that in the West, if a woman is raped, the blame is on the assaulter and not the victim!”

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