Berkeley: Muslim women gather to learn basics of self-defense


BERKELEY, Calif.  — A group of Muslim women gathered June 9 at a Berkeley mosque to learn about self-defense from a veteran martial arts instructor.

The women met at the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque to tumble, grapple and learn the basics of keeping safe as fears continue to mount nationally over racist attacks against Muslims and people perceived as immigrants. The woman teaching the class, Mollii Khangsengsing, founder and head instructor at Tough Love Fitness Collective, has been teaching ju-jitsu for several years. 

By launching the “Intro to Self-Defense for Muslim Women: A hate Crime Survival Seminar” Khangsengsing hopes to help students learn to thwart some common types of attacks, including someone trying to grab a hijab from a woman’s head.

“I thought if anybody needs self-defense right now it’s these women,” Khangsengsing said. “I am a minority, a petite Asian woman, (and) being a minority and a woman I can understand where they’re coming from.”

The women learned awareness strategies, how to set boundaries, how to use commanding and assertive voices while fending off possible attacks. “The best self-defense is to really not be caught by surprise,” Khangsengsing said.

They also learned the basics of ju-jitsu based techniques that focus on using leverage, rather than brute strength or blind panic, to survive assaults.

“It’s perfect for women,” Khangsengsing said. “My focus is to teach women how to protect themselves, especially in our current climate.”

Khangsengsing said she hopes today’s seminar was the first of many to come. It was open to Muslim women ages 9 and up.

“Martial arts have given me so much and I like to give back and hopefully do some positive social change,” Khangsengsing said.

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