Kolkata police has started offering martial arts training to schoolgirls in Kolkata to make them self-reliant when it comes to defence. Principals of 32 schools, four each under the eight Lalbazar divisions, had met the police brass on February 19 for a briefing on the first phase of Project Sukanya.
20 girls from classes VIII, IX and XI in each of the 32 schools are being taught one out of seven diverse forms of martial arts over three months. Three classes each of an hour’s duration are being conducted in a week by master trainers who coach the cops for combat or experts within the police force.
“We shortlisted the schools keeping in mind our goal of benefiting students from all backgrounds. This module would be a value addition for students of schools where martial arts are already being taught. But for those who either cannot afford training and/or live in insecure surroundings, this project should make a big difference,” an officer at the police headquarters said.
Lorraine Mirza, principal of La Martiniere for Girls, is delighted the police have included her institution in the first phase of the project. “A short-term course will attract senior girls because they are otherwise so tied up that they cannot always make time for full-fledged training. A short course will teach them the basics and it always helps if you know how to defend yourself,” she said.
The school has compulsory karate lessons for classes III to VIII, but training is optional for the senior girls.
Delighted parents, happy teachers
Guardians couldn’t be happier that the police have taken the initiative to teach them how to fight back. “I am sure the girls are going to benefit from this. I will be less worried each time my daughters step out of home,” said a mother of two school-going daughters, one of them a teenager.
Dipanwita Roychowdhury, headmistress of Binodini Girls’ High School, said many of her students needed to know self-defence to attend school without the fear of being physically or verbally abused on the way. “It’s a great initiative by the police. Many of my girls travel alone and some of them cycle to school. Martial arts training will boost their confidence to travel alone.”
Lessons in Martial Arts
Aikido, judo, karate, wushu, taekwondo, wrestling and kickboxing are the martial arts that have been chosen for Project Sukanya, officially launched on February 24. Aikido, a Japanese martial art, is on the list because it is simple yet effective. “Our constables receive training in aikido, among other martial arts. Some of our boys can train the students in aikido when the masters are busy,” the officer said.
Other centres of learning
Several other places in Kolkata offer self-defence and martial arts training to girls. Some of them are listed below:
1. Ballygunge Karate Institute
P 22, Near Ballygunge Phari, Bondel Road, Ballygunge, Kolkata 700019
2. Academy of Martial Arts
115/1 BB Chatterjee Road, Kolkata 700042
Timings: Sunday 9 - 11 am, Tuesday & Friday 6.30 - 7:30 pm
3. Tapan Bakshi (West Bengal Judo Association & Calcutta Judo Club)
Mayo Road, Maidan Tent. Kolkata 700016
4. Academy of Aikido
18, Kali Dutta Street, Kolkata 700005
5. Kickboxing Association of West Bengal
13/4/A, Chanditala Branch Road, Kolkata 700053