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Students teach Aikido self-defence sessions to women at Gainsborough College

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

Key skills: Shantelle Svarc, centre, instructing students Emma Benson, left, and Lindsay Denton at Gainsborough College. Picture: Anna Draper.

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Two mature students are doing a work experience placement with a difference – teaching basic self-defence to young women.

Bob Willmington and Shantelle Svarc are spending a month travelling over to Gainsborough College to run a series of Aikido sessions.

The pair – both studying health and active lifestyles in Lincoln – are passing on their self-defence knowledge to an ever-increasing number of classes.

Both 2nd Dan instructors, they are in the first year of their foundation degree courses and train at the Lincoln Aikido club under 6th Dan Sensei Paul Chambers.

"We feel it's very important for women and vulnerable adults to practice self-defence," said 25-year-old Miss Svarc, who is also a national level powerlifter and trains at the Horncastle club.

"With training they can develop the power and ability to stand up for themselves if necessary.

"Our style of self-defence has grown out of our martial art and is based on the principle of control rather than aggression."

Mr Willmington, 63, said: "We're having a really great time working with both the students and the staff at Gainsborough.

"It's commendable that the college is prepared to offer such important life skills to the students."

Sixteen-year-old childcare diploma student Sophie Hardy had never been on a martial arts course.

"It's really good because it makes you feel so much safer if you know what to do if the situation should ever arise," she said.

Emma Benson, 24, said: "I love the class because it really is a good idea and should be open to other groups."

Friend Lindsay Denman, 27, said: "I was surprised at how simple the techniques are which can help you get out of trouble."

Gainsborough College centre manager Leslie Whiting said more than 50 students had responded, including a few young men who had "sneaked in" to join the classes. "It helps develop the knowledge, confidence and ability to deal with difficult situations," Mrs Whiting said.

"As well as teaching practical techniques, it also introduces basic awareness of surroundings and conflict management skills.

"We ran the first classes last week and they were so over-subscribed we've had to add another class.

"So at least 50 young people will benefit from the four one-hour sessions.

"It's certainly a work placement with a difference and I have to admit I jumped at the chance after being offered their services."

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