#InternationalGirlChildDay – Shreya Finds A New Sense Of Freedom Through Martial Arts
This is one part of a three-part narrative in collaboration with Leher and MukkaMaar is a non-profit organisation that empowers young girls and envisages ending gender-based violence through its comprehensive 3-year self-defence training program.
1. What do you know about Martial Arts?
Ans: Martial arts is one of the most popular and well-known art forms. It is good for self-defence. It’s safe, easy to learn, requires little space and is very effective if done right. Martial art’s training aims to result in several benefits to trainers such as their physical, mental, emotional health. Martial arts improve people’s physical fitness, i.e, boosted strength, stamina, speed, flexibility, movement, coordination etc. as the whole body is exercised and the entire muscular system is activated. Bruce Lee is the father of martial arts.
2. Tell us about your life before you joined MukkaMaar.
Ans: My life before joining MukkaMaar was too difficult and stressful. Whenever I used to go out alone, I used to feel very scared. At that time too, there were many cases of children getting kidnapped. I have heard stories where the kidnappers would brutally hurt the children and make them forcibly beg for money or work in factories etc. My parents used to be too scared to send me anywhere after hearing about such cases. In fact, before joining Mukkamaar, I was also scared to talk to boys. I used to always fear that the boys were way stronger and powerful than me and if we would ever get into any kind of disputes, they could use their strength against me.
3. How did you find about about MukkaMaar? What encouraged you to join?
Ans: Then, one of my sisters (Sheetal) told me about MukkaMaar. I think she has really changed herself too after joining this institution. She generally practices her kicks and punching exercises at home. Looking at her, I was encouraged to learn this form of art.
4. How did your parents, peer and community react to you learning self-defence? What was their initial reaction? Has their outlook/ opinion changed? If so, how?
Ans: Nevertheless, elderly people always had the same orthodox thinking. They thought that girls should only work at home instead of going outside, doing any extracurricular or outdoor activities. They thought that girls should only be doing household chores in their future. However, I think day by day people’s mindset is changing and eventually, both boys and girls are getting equal importance. My sister has won many medals, looking at her achievements, many people from our neighbourhood also started sending their daughters to this class. Now, the majority of the people in our neighbourhood have changed their thinking. It’s true that only academic studies aren’t important.
5. How did MukkaMaar & self-defence change your life?
Ans: I have changed a lot after joining MukkaMaar. Now, even my parents aren’t reluctant to allow us to go anywhere. At first, I used to feel very lazy and wasn’t strong enough to bare minor pains. But today I don’t get weak by any small sicknesses. I have also improved my coordination, speed and strength. I have got a new sense of freedom, no fear, no stress. This is all due to MukkaMaar and Ishita Didi. She taught all of us how to overcome our shyness and fear.
6. Narrate one incident where you had to use your self-defence skills
Ans: I remember that one day, me and my friends were taking a stroll along the beachside. One of my friends challenged me to how much I had learned so far in martial arts. I showed him a typical kick that we learnt in class and he was startled. That was quite a funny incident.
7. Do you think all girls should learn self-defence? Why?
Ans: Yes, of course, all girls should learn martial arts for their own self-defence. Any form of martial arts if learnt well with mental and physical awareness, lot of practice and conditioning can be effective against attackers (street attacks)
Nowadays, we can see that there are many things that girls can do, that boys cannot. All girls have the right to do everything they have wished to do or go anywhere they want to. Girls are strong. All parents should change their orthodox stereotypical thinking for their girls.
8. Describe MukkarMaar in one word.
Ans: According to me if MukkaMaar wasn’t there, my life would have no use. It has taught me positive thinking in life. In short, MukkaMaar is my ‘Manzil’, ‘Hausla’, ‘Zid’ and hard work!
9. If you had to encourage girls in your community, city and country to learn self-defence, what is the one thing you would say to them to convince them?
Ans: I want to prove to everyone that girls also are very powerful. I want to raise the name and stage of MukkaMaar, our beloved Ishita didi, and all those who support this! I also aspire to get a chance to showcase my talent, get medals, certificates and awards. I want to become famous and give autographs to my fans. Although, I really hope that my parents allow me to keep continuing this class since I have my 10th-grade boards coming up soon. But I am very glad to have Ishita didi in my life who taught me each and everything. She should always be with me, alongside, so no-one can stop me from keeping on. Thank you Ishita didi for this programme that you conduct, for the studio, for everything!