‘Fit Defence’ to the res­cue of Saint Lu­cian women

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Faye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir

Re­cent crime stats here, have re­vealed a spike in the in­ci­dence of rape in Saint Lu­cia. Just this week the case of two young women who were gang raped not only added to this hor­rific state of af­fairs but re­opened pub­lic de­bate on the mat­ter. On the one hand some are call­ing for stiffer laws, a work­ing crime lab and the en­force­ment of penal­ties to deal with the per­pe­tra­tors when they are caught. On the other hand there are those seek greater pro­tec­tion for our women and recog­ni­tion of their right to pro­tect them­selves to pre­vent such in­ci­dents.

One such in­di­vid­ual who be­lieves in more women tak­ing the de­fen­sive ap­proach is 8th de­gree black belt and Saint Lu­cian-born Timmy Fran­cis. Fran­cis is putting his best foot for­ward to come to the res­cue of Saint Lu­cian women of all ages by of­fer­ing vi­tal self­de­fence skills that can help to save their lives.

Fran­cis, who has worked ex­ten­sively in Lon­don with schools, in­de­pen­dent pro­grammes and pub­lic projects, rec­og­nizes the sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of women and has ini­ti­ated an on­go­ing so­lu­tion to ad­dress the ma­jor prob­lem of crime di­rected to­ward them as the phys­i­cally weaker gen­der. “Women is­land-wide now have the op­por­tu­nity to un­dergo free self-defence train­ing by means of my Fit Defence Pro­gramme which seeks to em­power them with prac­ti­cal self-defence skills and tech­niques while help­ing them to be­come more phys­i­cally fit,” Fran­cis told the STAR this week.

For a while, Fran­cis says, he had been pon­der­ing the ques­tion “how do we ad­dress some­thing of this mag­ni­tude?” His an­swer: “Find a venue in or­der to achieve the fol­low­ing goals:- tackle and ad­dress the obe­sity prob­lem here and teach self-defence tech­niques to women while help­ing them to build their self es­teem.” And now he says his prayers have been an­swered through the use of the Cas­tries Town Hall.

In his in­ter­view with the STAR Fran­cis ex­plained that women in Saint Lu­cia are at risk of crime ini­ti­ated against them be­cause many are not in shape and the ma­jor­ity do not know where to be­gin with re­gard to fit­ness train­ing, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of their busy sched­ules. Giv­ing us some insight into his pro­gramme Fran­cis says, “The pro­gramme was first launched in the Mabouya Val­ley and Palm Val­ley in De­niere Riviere, Den­nery. Mar­tial arts tech­niques help build, de­velop and strengthen not only the body, but the im­mune sys­tem as well, so par­tic­i­pants must re­frain from al­co­hol, drugs, tobacco, smok­ing, mar­i­juana and late nights while un­der­go­ing train­ing. Apart from the ma­jor health and safety ben­e­fits, it teaches dis­ci­pline.”

He went on to ex­plain that he be­lieves in en­cour­ag­ing mod­er­a­tion, as op­posed to to­tal elim­i­na­tion, in or­der to be con­sis­tent with the pro­gramme and ul­ti­mately to be­come suc­cess­ful. “While it takes five to ten years to learn karate, for ex­am­ple, one can suc­cess­fully learn self-defence in six weeks to three months,” Fran­cis says. “Mar­tial arts teach con­trol over nat­u­ral re­ac­tions to po­ten­tial at­tack­ers and help to de­velop con­trol defence mech­a­nisms.”

The pro­gramme, which be­gan with three fit­ness in­struc­tors and two po­lice of­fi­cers, has been steadily grow­ing, with new in­struc­tors be­ing trained and cer­ti­fied as the pro­gramme ex­pands. Aside from the ‘Fit Defence’ classes, other pro­grammes of­fered in­clude the pop­u­lar pedi gresse classes and keep-fit and self- defence classes for se­niors. Par­tic­i­pants have re­ported phys­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and dis­abled pa­tients have re­ported steady re­cov­ery since start­ing the pro­gramme, Fran­cis claims.

“The best thing about the classes is that they are only ten min­utes long, so very easy to fit into even the busiest sched­ule.” Fran­cis high­lighted. Ac­cord­ing to him th­ese classes en­hance strength, de­velop re­flexes, and im­prove fit­ness and flex­i­bil­ity in women, while mak­ing their aware­ness more acute. “The bonus is that the train­ing helps de­velop women’s sixth sense (in­tu­ition),” Fran­cis adds.

For Timmy Fran­cis it is all about em­pow­er­ing women all over Saint Lu­cia to de­fend them­selves against po­ten­tial at­tack­ers while si­mul­ta­ne­ously hav­ing fun when they keep fit. Classes are held on Tues­days and Thurs­days at the Cas­tries Town Hall and are open to the gen­eral pub­lic.

Timmy Fran­cis (top left) poses with some of the ladies now tak­ing his classes in

self-defence and fit­ness.

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