RAFAT SHAWE Karate gold medalist, kickboxing coach and professional MMA fighter from Iraq What you need to do to stay safe:
Learn how to throw a proper punch and use your elbows to strike at your opponent’s weaker areas. If you don’t know how to do it properly, you could end up hurting yourself in the process
Think karate and kickboxing, and selfdefence may not be the first thing that pops into your mind. But Rafat Shawe, who has been involved with Mixed Martial Arts ( MMA) for close to 20 years now, has a different opinion.
“I’ve been trained in a variety of martial arts from judo and jiu jitsu to combat sports such as boxing and kickboxing, and what people need to know is that every martial art gives you training in self- defence. For example, the minute you learn how to throw a punch, you are a bit more equipped to protect yourself.”
Rafat currently teaches professional fighters as well as those who are just getting started, and while many of his students want to learn to fight to compete professionally, there are also those who want to know to defend themselves, while also staying in shape. However, it is important to note that while all martial arts give you training in self- defence, one does not need to be a professional to learn how to protect oneself. It is also important to pick the right art.
“Kickboxing is a great combat sport for anyone who wants to learn the art of selfdefence when it comes to street fights,” says Rafat. “This is because it is a stand up sport and usually the fight starts when you’re standing up. Moreover, it uses blocking techniques against the opponent. On the other hand, taking up another discipline, like Brazilian jiu jitsu, will enhance kickboxing as it focuses on grappling and ground fighting. This will come in handy because one should know what to do if the fight has you on the ground. I would recommend taking a session in kickboxing, followed by a session in Brazilian jiu jitsu. You will be amazed by how one discipline complements the other.”