A glimpse into the Parkdale Cromdale Community League gym on Aug. 27 would reveal a half dozen partners throwing punches or attempting chokeholds, followed by counter moves.

The self-defense workshop was the opening event of Parkdale Cromdale Community League’s (PCCL’s) Safety Initiative, launched by the board to address neighbourhood safety.

Shazia Muhammad works with her partner on a move and countermove technique. In back are Adil Muhammad and Richard Williams, PCCL vice president. | Kate Wilson

“We had a discussion on how to build safety in the community—what does it look like for Parkdale Cromdale, what are the key issues here,” said Alyssa Miller, PCCL communications director.

Discussion started with a safety whistle program, but soon included self-empowerment.

“We thought, what if the whistle doesn’t work, how can we address all the potential issues?” said Miller. “So we brought in a self-defense workshop.”

Andrea Musgrave and Larry Fundytus practice a manoeuvre. | Kate Wilson

The workshop introduced participants to counter-ambush, de-escalation and escape techniques, all part of a program developed by Randy King, owner of KPC Self Defense.

“The reason we’re self-defense and not martial arts is that self-defense is more holistic,” explained King, who trained in Krav Maga and modern Arnis.

Krav Maga, developed for the Israeli armed forces, focuses on real world situations, while the Arnis system, a self-defense method from the Phillipines, emphasizes fighting with sticks and bladed weapons.

“I blended in the Arnis system because Filipino martial arts are based off a bladed culture, so it’s better for knife attacks,” explained King, noting attacks in Edmonton tend more toward knives rather than guns.

Workshop participants learned to be aware of surroundings to notice escape routes and objects for defense. Conflict resolution is integral to King’s program, and there are also legal ramifications associated with violence.

“Our students learn the legal system in relation to assault,” said King, noting the aftermath of violence is not something self-defense programs generally explore.

“So, violence happens. Most good people don’t know their legal rights after the fact, but criminals do. Our training includes self-care and makes sure your self-defense doesn’t end you up in jail.”

Andrea Musgrave, a participant, was happy to learn most self-defense is knowing how to respond without violence.

“Learn how to get away,” she said.

Larry Fundytus, community centre custodian, appreciated the simplicity and effectiveness of the holistic approach.

“It’s really beautiful. These techniques don’t depend on size or strength,” he said.

For more courses, email pccl.info@gmail.com or visit parkdalecromdale.org

Featured Image: Shazia Muhammad and Adil Muhammad practice fending off a frontal attack. | Kate Wilson