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London trainer offers free self defence lessons

After she read about the growing incidence of rapes in India, Debi Steven, a self-defence trainer working in London, decided to fly down and train women from underprivileged backgrounds here in the art of self-defence. Richa Srivastava reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 28, 2013 02:28 IST
Richa Srivastava

After she read about the growing incidence of rapes in India, Debi Steven, a self-defence trainer working in London, decided to fly down and train women from underprivileged backgrounds here in the art of self-defence.

“I had been reading about the condition of women in India. I decided to train the women here and make them feel safe,” said the 39-year-old woman, whose first stop is Lucknow.

After a two-day workshop at the Red Brigade slum, Debi will train 19,000 women in Kerala. “That workshop will be for the fishing community.”

Steven’s passion has roots in a very personal experience. She was raped when she was 11.

Steven wanted to learn martial arts ever since. “But when I told my parents, they said it was a sport meant for boys and there was no point wasting money on it for me,” she recalled.

So Steven waited till she became financially independent, and at 18, after she got her first salary, she joined karate classes. She learnt martial arts and self defence in Canada, South Africa, England and Los Angles. For 20 years now, she has been training people across the globe.

And now she will be introducing a non profit organisation in India called Premier Self Defence — Breaking The Silence. “The idea is to train women here free of cost,” she said.

Steven always encourages girls to learn self defence. She says, “I learnt it because I wanted to be safe. I tell all girls—be feminine, be beautiful, but know how to defend yourself.”