Brentwood and Billericay martial arts school offering free self defence classes for women

Ben Richardson from Meridian Kung Fu

Article by Hannah Brown: A martial arts school has said thousands of women have come forward after it announced free self defence classes following the death of Sarah Everard.

Sarah went missing on March 3, while walking home after visiting a friend in Clapham, south London. The 33-year-old’s body was found in an area of woodland near a disused leisure site in Ashford, Kent, a week later on March 10.

Meridian Kung Fu, which has a number of branches across Essex, announced it would be holding free self defence courses to try and help support women.

Ben Richardson runs the branches covering Brentwood and Billericay, Essex.

He explained that they wanted to do something to help as they did not want cases like Sarah’s to keep happening.

“The guys in head office did some research and the stats are baffling on how many women across the world are killed or raped on a daily basis,”

Ben said.

“We want to run the course to help women defend themselves and give an understanding of what legal self defence is. We also wanted to give back to the community, during lockdown we are very lucky our members across the organisation have stayed with us, and we want to off them something like a thank you for sticking with us through the difficult time we’ve had recently.”

Ben said it has been "eye opening" how many women have come forward to say they are interested in the classes.

Ben said that over 3,000 women have expressed an interest in the self defence classes across all of the Essex branches.

“It’s really eye opening to see how many women do see what is happening as a threat and an issue,” he said.

“We want to do something about that, it definitely makes the course more worthwhile running if 3,000 women want to defend themselves.”

Ben explained that participants do not need to be a certain fitness level, the only requirement is that they are aged 16 or over.

“In the classes what we will look at are the basics, if somebody grabbed you how to deal with it. The first hour or so of the course is street awareness, not to walk in dark areas, and other things such as having your head up, no hood up and keeping your hands out of pockets. And then basic self defence, if grabbed by hair, arms, picked up in a bear hug position, or come at with a weapon.”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Ben explained they do not currently have a date for when the classes will take place, but said they are aiming to be able to run the course by the end of June, to July time.

Women interested in the classes in the Brentwood and Billericay area can get in touch with Ben through the Meridian Kung Fu Billericay & Brentwood Facebook page.

Article by Hannah Brown, InYourArea