By SCOTT McKEEN Journal Staft Writer – April 1, 1987
George Manoli likes his women mean.
He wants them to become expert at gouging, kicking, biting and hitting – the better to survive in a city women increasingly perceive as violent and dangerous.
Men would cringe at what Manoli, a 28-year-old se1f-defence instructor, teaches his female students. He tells them the groin is always a prime target and they’re not told to go easy.
The idea is to incapacitate an attacker so an intended victim can run away.
Self-defence courses such as Manoli’s are filling up in the city. Three young women have been discovered slain in the Edmonton area since February, and women are becoming more conscious of their personal safety.
Manoli’s pupils, for example, are taught to gouge an assailant’s eyes and follow up with a solid punch or full-strength squeeze to the groin. If the attacker is in great pain, the woman can flee.
Manoli teaches women’s self-defence at the YWCA. He says it’s not easy to teach women to fight back, because instructors must break down emotional barriers.
“Women are trained for years to be gentle and passive, but we do everything in our means to get the animal to come out,” he said with a laugh.
“I want them to be like sleeping volcanoes, ready to explode.”
If women are not prepared to go full-out to injure an attacker, they will be in trouble, he says.
A kick to the shins or a light tap to the groin will only anger the attacker and worsen the situation.
Manoli, who holds a black belt in karate, breaks down women’s emotional barriers with repetitive hands-on drills.
At one point in the eight-week course, his karate students are brought in. They don full protective gear and play the role of an attacking rapist.
Women soon learn their limitations and realize they have to “fight like tigers” to escape, Manoli says.
The drills are simulated in high-risk areas like bathrooms and parkades. In one class, students wear dresses and high heels to get used to fighting in formal wear.
The course isn’t all kicks and hits, though.
Women are taught to analyse when they are vulnerable and to avoid risky situations.
They also learn always to be aware of their surroundings and to walk assertively.
“You have to look like you’re going someplace, not like you’re wandering around lost,” he pointed out.
His students also learn how to talk, act or bluff in an attack.
“You want to show the attacker you’re a human being and not just an object,” Manoli said,
Giving in to the attack is one option students learn, but they are also instructed to get a description of the culprit.
The important thing, he says, is that the women are taught to assess each situation, think on their feet and act accordingly.
The course reduces their fears which, in turn, lessens the likelihood of panic and wrong reactions during an attack. .
Manoli says women must be careful consumers when they shop for a course.
Martial-arts courses aren’t always the best because they cover only physical training and don’t prepare women mentally for an attack.
As well, they don’t always aim the course for the “average” woman.
“How many 40-year-old women in high heels can perform a kick to the head?” Manoli said.
Manoli, who has never had to use his martial arts expertise on the streets, shrugs off criticism his courses teach people to be violent.
“What do you want the women to do – just lie down and let it happen?” he remarked.
“She has a right to do whatever she needs to do to get out of there.”