Kaua’i women get defensive

Four just ended Lihu’e. Pereza girls went in, and four more confident and well-equipped women emerged from Cynthia Madden’s selfdefense class.

Malia and Lehua, 17-year-old twin sisters, gained a lot from the eight-week class that recently at Universal Karate of Kaua’i in

“At first I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but with the four of us there and all the other women, it was much more comfortable than I first thought,” Malia said.

The Kaua’i High School students were joined by their two cousins, 18-year-old Malina and 16-year-old Kalea.

“Be really loud because it really intimidates the attacker,” Malia advised girls who are in uncomfortable situations.

Meanwhile, Lehua gained knowledge in an area that could prove to be extremely helpful someday.

“It made me think in a different way. It’s just using the attacker’s weight against them. I never thought about that before,” Lehua noted.

As teenagers, the Pereza’s are faced with many tough situations, but at least when it comes down to fighting back, they’ll know exactly what to do.

“It gave me more confidence. If I was in an unlikely situation, I would have an idea of what to do,” Lehua said.

Malia mentioned one of the main reasons she took the class was because of the move she’s making to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in August.

“I know I’ll be alone up there and it’s a bigger area, so there’s more risk up there, but at least I got to learn how to defend myself,” Malina said.

Her younger sister Kalea learned a valuable lesson on how to deal with people under the influence of ice.

“She (Cynthia) taught us to scratch their eyes,” Kalea said.

At first, she wasn’t too keen on the idea of the class, but after stepping through the doors of the class, it turned out to be an enlightening experience.

“I thought it was really fun. There should be more girls at the class. I told my friends to sign up and start,” Kalea said.

Malina also added that the individuals who participate are at the same level, so there’s no pressure.

“It was a really comfortable setting. I would definitely recommend this class to other girls,” Malina said.

The class is also popular for older women, just like Kekaha’s Jaclyn Mierta.

“She (Cynthia) makes people feel comfortble and confident. You might go in there doubtful, but once you walk into the class, you gain confidence in yourself,” Mierta said.

And it took the Island School teacher a long time to finally take a stab at it.

“It’s something I wanted to do for almost 30 years,” Mierta said.

According to Madden, class attendees should learn basic punching, blocking, choke defense, grab defense, and ground defense, where you will get exercise as well as learn to fight.

“Women’s self defense is a combination of physical and psychological techniques used to protect women from rape and violent crimes,” Madden noted.

Identifying and utilizing common weapons, mental training, knowing the predator’s mind, when to fight back, knowing your mind, and whether you have the traits that a predator looks for when selecting a victim are other things you should learn from the class.

Madden is a black belt in the martial arts and holds three firstplace titles for women’s black belt fighting.

She has trained in the martial arts for 15 years and has been tested in real life.

The latest class handed out nine certifications, and Madden is now working with a nonprofit company called FreeGirl Foundation.

“They are a group of police officers that created a women’s clothing company where a percentage of the proceeds goes to their foundation, which supports freedom of women around the world,” Madden said.

The next set of class sessions start on January 10 and run through February 28 (Tuesdays from 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) at Universal Karate of Kaua’i (4353 Rice Street).

The cost is $99 for all eight weeks (pre-register by calling 245-7744, space is limited).

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