By James Eakin
The sport of MMA is so much more than a profession. For some it is an escape from the hardships of everyday life; for others, it is a means of self-defence and safety.
The importance of this subject in a discussion around women’s MMA can never be understated. The value of this practice was put on display by the incredibly brave Neha Sonawane, who was subjected to a depraved attack whilst on her way home in India. After departing a railway station, an individual approached Sonawane on an escalator before indecently exposing himself and attempting to molest her. Sonawane, who is a black belt and attends self-defence workshops alongside MMA India President, Sharif Bapu, managed to fight off her attacker before alerting authorities to the incident. Her attacker has subsequently been arrested.
This awful incident truly brings to light the value of MMA in the female community, as it serves as a valuable asset to the vulnerable. Speaking to MMA India President, Sharif Bapu, he commended the efforts and bravery of Sonawane, and spoke to the value of teaching MMA to women. Bapu said:
“Teaching MMA has become really very important, as it helps women to stand against all odds and defend themselves against any atrocities committed. Young girls and even middle-aged females are very keen to learn self-defence so that they don’t have to rely upon anyone to save themselves.”
Bapu identified the power of MMA in promoting self-confidence, as well as his own personal joy at being able to teach such valuable skills to so many:
“They can fight against any circumstances which may arise in day to day life. They feel more confident and are ready to take on anyone if need arises. They feel more secure and are able to lead a life without fear in their mind. I feel blessed and honoured that God has given me the opportunity so that I can help them.”
Protecting those closest to us by any means is something that Bapu values more than anything.
“We all have a mother, sister, wife or daughter at home for whose safety we are capable of making any kind of sacrifice. This feeling each person should understand, as that will curb the crimes in society and we can all be fearless and live peacefully.”
Neha Sonawane emphasised the importance of self-defence training for women:
“According to me, every female should learn the basics of self-defence,” she said. “Today it happened to me, tomorrow it can be you or anyone. We must fight our own battle. We must teach lessons to monsters out there. Defence is helping yourself when you most need it. For every difficult situation there is a solution.”
For their collective efforts, both Sonawane and Bapu appeared on the MMA India show and were interviewed about the importance of teaching self-defence to women.
We salute the bravery of Neha Sonawane and the practical work of Sharif Bapu in lieu of this incident, which has shown just how important MMA is within our respective communities!