Both adults and children had the opportunity to learn self-defense basics from Shifu Antonio Hamilton on Saturday, at the first class of its kind from Stella’s Girls of Maryland.
Stella’s Girls is a 501©(3) nonprofit that provides mentoring and workshops for the young people of Maryland, in addition to encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM fields such as coding.
Shantrell Calvy Scott Holloman, the organization’s vice president, said the self-defense class was held in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to give both youth and adults the necessary skills to protect themselves if they ever have to do so.
“We want youth to know that domestic violence — if they are experiencing it or seeing it — it is something that’s very serious," Holloman said. "[We want them to know] things to look out for if they do see those things."
But it also goes beyond just self-defense.
“Martial arts, it encompasses a lot of things,” Holloman said. “It’s not only discipline, it’s a workout, socializing and a way to build confidence.”
Her father, Darrick Scott Sr., agreed. He thought it was great to give kids an outlet during a time when they are required to stay home in front of a screen for most of the day.
“I think everyone needs a resource to get out here and do things,” Scott said.
The class began with some light conditioning and then went over the basics of punches and kicks. Hamilton also taught how to effectively duck and pivot away from attacks.
The stress on self-defense was something Scott liked about the program.
“You don’t go looking for trouble, but you’ve got to protect yourself if trouble comes your way,” Scott said.
The moves were based in kung fu. As a teacher for many years, Hamilton says he’s seen a change in students to be more focused and energized.
“Self defense isn’t all about punching and kicking. It’s about being aware… They won’t only be able to protect their bodies but protect their minds,” Hamilton said. “We want to protect the whole person, not just what you can see on the surface.”