Girl power in Whanganui

A group of girls in Whanganui have learned how to escape an assault in a free self-defence workshop led by Miss World New Zealand and the New Zealand Jiu Jitsu Academy.

In a bid to help empower young girls, Miss World New Zealand Jessica Tyson, of Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, and fourth-degree Sensei of Jiu-Jitsu Shanon Casson organised the workshops.

Whanganui City College student Moana Ward, 17, says, “It was cool learning the technique knowing that it will help me in the future if something really bad happens. I feel confident that I'll be comfortable doing it.”

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Danielle Tahana-Tyson says the workshop taught her new defence moves that she can use in the future if needed.

“It was something fun and new and something interesting that I haven’t done before.”

The first workshop was part of Tyson’s charity project Brave, which aims to help young people affected by sexual violence.

“I felt like a lot of young people these days don't really know how to defend themselves and when I was a younger girl I didn’t know either," says Tyson.

“Just being able to empower them and teach them moves so that they feel comfortable, that if they are ever confronted in a situation where they might need to use these moves then they know that they can.”

Shanon Casson leads the class. Source: Brave

Casson says it was a privilege to be involved.

“I think it's a God-given right that all women should know how to protect themselves," says Casson.

“All human beings should know how to protect themselves and understand all the realms of self-defence, that there is not just the physical.”

Casson says he’d like to see more women in martial arts, especially in Jiu-Jitsu.

“Currently there are very few.  But Jiu-Jitsu is almost catered for women, especially because it uses the opponents mass or force or energy against themselves.”

Tyson says she and Casson plan to continue the classes once she returns from Miss World in December.