VIDEO: Sheffield students get a kick out of women’s self-defence classes

Recent assaults in Sheffield are encouraging female students to get involved with self-defence classes at the University of Sheffield.

The university started the classes in September 2016 hoping to empower women after several attacks in the city.

Emily Preston, an 18-year-old student, began attending the classes after hearing that a woman had been sexually assaulted in Weston Park in January.

She said: “These incidents are always going on. I think it’s just the fact that it was so close to home because it was Weston Park and it was a student.

“It could have been any of us.”

Computer science student Giulia Pederzani, 27, said: “A friend of mine almost got assaulted in the summer – she had called a cab and made the mistake of going down two minutes before it came and a man started harassing her.

“Then the cab came and it was fine, but it was scary so I thought why not give self-defence a try.”

Social Sport development officer Martin Cook, who is responsible for organising the classes at the University, said they were suggested by female students as a way to help them feel safe in the city.

He said: “After some incidents after nights out with female students we thought this was the right time to provide a diversionary activity that could appeal to the female market, whilst providing skills and fitness levels too.”

Rick Morice, who runs the class every week with 15-25 attendees, provides students with a simple introduction to martial arts.

He said: “I think self-defence is important for every single person.

“It’s great for women in particular to study something like this, but I think it’s important for everyone as there’s violence against everyone.

“It’s not a given that this city is as safe as people think it is.”

The hour-long session aims to help women understand the basics of self-defence. They are taught practical blocking techniques, escaping from strangleholds and grabs, and how to use basic throws to manipulate movement.

The classes are part of the University’s Social Sport programme and take place at social hub The Edge in the Endcliffe student village every Thursday.

Social Sport offers over 50 sporting opportunities for University of Sheffield students which are provided by experienced student sports instructors at various locations across the University.

They are free to attend for anybody living in university accommodation or £2 for other University of Sheffield students.