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Women seek out self-defense classes after rise in Mid-South crime

"We wanted to build women’s self-esteem. We wanted them to come in and feel a little more dominant,” said Dylan Singler, USA Karate Germantown manager.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The rise in crime, particularly against women, has led to an increase in women wanting to learn self-defense. 

ABC24 headed to USA Karate in Germantown, where they have had to add new classes just to accommodate the increased interest.

It is not just about being reactive but being proactive. Women all across Shelby County are taking the necessary steps to stay safe. 

The past few weeks have sent emotions on a whirlwind in Memphis. The rise in crime, especially against women, has many on alert. 

“If we look at statistics, it scares us tremendously. It’s really not a matter of if we’re going to be attacked or have an altercation, it’s really when and at what level,” said Robby Beard, USA Karate owner.

Women are fighting back. At USA Karate in Germantown, they’ve added women self-defense classes. 

“We’ve had over 200 women come to take self-defense classes in the last two weeks alone,” said Beard.

“We didn’t want to scare anybody. We wanted to build women’s self-esteem. We wanted them to come in and feel a little more dominant,” said Dylan Singler, USA Karate Germantown manager.

It is also about taking control. 

“The number one thing we like to tell women is to be aware of your surroundings,” said Beard. “The second thing is distance management. We don’t want people to get too close to us. If we feel that gut feeling, that’s probably number three on the list, follow that gut feeling.”

After going over key rules, instructors teach techniques for combat. 

“We talk about a tool belt for construction workers. We’re giving you tools for everyday life,” said Singler. “When we come in, we talk about techniques and using them for a purpose.”

One of the biggest concerns women have is how to defend themselves against a person who is armed. 

“What if they have a weapon. We always train, regardless of the weapon, to give them what they want, but we’re doing that in a special way. We’re making sure that they’re not just handing it to them, but that they’re throwing it in a different direction and then get out of there,” said Singler.

It is fight of flight. The main goal is to get to safety. 

“We’re here to help you find your solutions to the problems that are out in the world in today’s society,” said Singler.

The response from the women and need to add classes, show there is a demand to feel safer. 

“This lets me know that the women are saying, ‘Listen, we’re tired of this. We’re tired of walking on eggshells. We want to be empowered. We want to know how it is and what to do,’” said Beard.

Sometimes, the solution is simple. Be prepared.

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