“Fight like a girl” is taking on a whole new meaning in Whitestone.
Female residents showed up en masse on Saturday for a self-defense workshop hosted by local civic group We Love Whitestone.
Sensei Douglas DiMarco and instructors from USA Shotokai Karate Dojo in Bayside taught more than 70 women at the event, which was co-sponsored by the civic association and Councilman Paul Vallone. The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Corps provided its facility for the event.
According to We Love Whitestone President Alfredo Centola, the self-defense class was already in the planning stages when the neighborhood was shocked by the news of a young girl being attacked in the area.
Centola believes there was increased the neighborhood interest in having a self-defense class after the attack.
“I’m certain this incident was a factor in some of the women participating in the event,” Centola said.
Vallone agreed that residents must remain especially vigilant and stay safe in light of recent events.
“It’s important for everyone to be aware of basic self-defense techniques that may one day help them avoid harm or save their life,” Vallone said.
Women were taught which bodily areas to target when confronted by an opponent and how to use the generally lighter weight of the female body as an advantage in a combat situation.
Participant Grace Agostino said learning techniques to fend off a potentially larger attacker made her feel empowered.
“It was great,” Agostino said. “It was very eye-opening specifically because you would think you need to be really strong to fight off something who’s going to attack you.”
Others say that while they did learn valuable information in the seminar, more could still be done to make women feel safe in the city streets.
Whitestone resident Vicki Poulos and her two friends attended with their teenage daughters. While she was grateful that Vallone and We Love Whitestone were able to fund the class for the community, she believed that it would take more than one self-defense class to feel confident engaging in a combat situation with a potential attacker.
“To follow up and add to it from a different angle would be phenomenal,” Poulos said, adding that she would love for the 109th Precinct to be involved in any future classes or self-defense instruction.
Whitestone residents like Poulos will be glad to hear that this is not the last safety awareness class planned by We Love Whitestone.
The group is also planning to hold a Jan. 30 Block Watcher certification class in conjunction with the 109th Precinct on how to help police in the event of an emergency situation.