Witsies are not keen on learning self-defence even though they feel it is necessary considering South Africa’s high crime rate.
While all the female students interviewed felt it was more necessary for women to know how to protect themselves none have any self-defence skills, haven’t read any books or watched any videos teaching any type of self defence and aren’t considering taking up classes.
Should Wits offer a class for free though, Witsies said they would consider attending as long as it was set at a “good time”.
Carrying a weapon as a form of safety was frowned upon and seen as being detrimental. Second year civil engineering student Zwanganya Mohale was mugged and had her cell phone stolen last year. “I wish I had [had] pepper spray,” she said. “I’m going to think about carrying it around.”
Students also criticised the South African Police Service. Fourth year quantity surveying student, Mohammed Shiraaz Jogee, felt that if “criminals were aware of an effective police service they might think twice about committing crimes”.
Jogee keeps a knuckle duster in his car and said he has become more confident after taking up muay thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu almost three years ago,
“It has taught me self-control and discipline and has made me more able to respond to a possible attack,” he said.
Many styles of martial arts include self-defence techniques and Phil Ferrer, Wits aikido club instructor who encourages learning self-defence, said it was just one aspect of martial arts training. He felt martial arts also made you more aware, aided in general growth and had a positive psychological aspect.
“It trains you to use your body as a weapon,” Ferrer said.
The club has previously run free one-day courses specifically for women and children as a community service and are considering planning future programmes which will be advertised.
Self-defence emphasises awareness of one’s surroundings to avoid potentially dangerous situations, an aspect BCom student Joe Fu feels is important. “Students should be more vigilant and aware, it doesn’t take time. [Physical] self-defence is a bonus”.