Free self-defense class in Iowa City is geared for Muslim women

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG TV9)-- A free self-defense in Iowa City teaches women how to protect themselves from verbal and physical attacks. It's especially geared towards Muslim women.

Tuesday was 10-year-old Haya Saeed's first time at a self defense class. Her partner, 14-year-old Nadeem Mohammed can't say the same. She's been in Taekwondo classes for about three years, after her dad recommended she try it.

"He told me try it and if I liked it I would go," Mohoammed said.

Nadeem helps coach Haya on some of the moves. While these girls bust a sweat they're having fun. And even more important, they're learning valuable skills.

Skills these women hopefully will never have to use. Even still, Master Hamza Omar says everyone needs to be prepared.

Omar works for the Iowa City School District and juvenile court system, and says he sees the need for for women to learn how to defend themselves.

"I think everybody wants to feel safe, and given the environment we're in post election," Omar said.

He says it's simple techniques that can give women an edge if they were to come in contact with an attacker.

"Small joint manipulation. That's how you get away from someone pulling your hair, or your hijab. It's that simple," Omar said.

Lessons that don't incite fear but empower women of all ages and backgrounds.

"Because if you got it anything like that you would know how to take care of yourself," Saeed said.

Classes are at Strike Martial Arts in Iowa City. Master Omar hopes to offer free classes to women once or twice a month.