More women in Iowa seek self defense classes at local gyms

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 5:35 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Sabryna Papagni teaches Jiu Jitsu in a unique way. Instead of teaching the movements and technique in a way that would help her students win a competition, she teaches them in what she calls a defensive method.

“Instead our focus is on if someone were to attack you and be this close to you, or in your personal space, here’s a way you could sweep them, submit them, stand up and get away,” she said.

It’s for Papagni’s all-women’s self defense class at Hard Drive Performance Center. It’s a skill more women in the area want to develop.

“This is I want to feel safer when I walk down the street by myself because I don’t have a choice but to walk down the street by myself,” said Papagni.

She says the reason for the up tick in demand varies. For some women it’s a preventative measure. If they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to use self defense and get away from an attacker.

For other women, like Lauren O’Neil, the interest in self defense comes from a desire to feel self empowered.

“Sometimes doing something that is not normal and something that is a little bit outside of your comfort zone challenges those beliefs and usually strengthens the self confidence,” said O’Neil.

Both women are helping other women throughout eastern Iowa gain the experience and learn self defense. And both say they continue to see younger and younger people wanting to build their ability.