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NYer Of The Week: Two Martial Arts Teachers Help City Women Learn Self-Defense For Free

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The latest New Yorkers of the Week are a pair of martial arts teachers who give local women the tools they need to stay safe in the city. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

Dan Anderson and Dasha Libin teach at Anderson's Martial Arts Academy in Manhattan. They teach their female students how to defend themselves.

A year ago on a weekend trip to Miami, their student Maria Arce was brutally attacked.

"It was terrifying, and when I woke up in the emergency room I remember feeling overwhelmed, because I didn't know how I was going to be able to put myself back together," says Arce.

She received broken teeth and a bruised face.

"Physically, I was going to be able to heal. Emotionally, I walked around for a really long feeling terrified and not feeling safe," says Arce. "And now that I have studied here at Anderson's, I feel really confident."

The duo wants to reach more women like Arce.

"We read an FBI statistic saying that 84 percent of the women who fight back escape. I thought, wow, what if we could raise the statistic?" says Anderson. "What if we could teach different women or any victim of violence something to raise that statistic?"

With 35 years of experience between them, the pair hold free self-defense classes for women every other month.

"Awareness is the first thing that we always teach them," says Anderson. "The second thing is I teach them -- verbal self-defense, knowing where to cross the limit. And then it goes in to armed and unarmed combat."

"One little poke to the eye can really take them out of commission and give you that time to evade," says Libin.

Fifteen students from the academy help Anderson and Libin instruct more than 50 women.

"You learn how to eye gouge, you learn how, if you are in a choke hold, how to get out of that, or at least buy time so you can breath, so you can scream for help," says Arce.

Inspired by Filipino martial arts, the pair asks participants to make donations to the local charity BABAE, which means "woman" in the Filipino language Tagalog.

"It's a case management organization that provides services to Filipino women, victims of domestic violence," says BABAE volunteer Kristen Cabildo.

Anderson says he hopes to expand the free classes to children and men in the future. His students agree that what they learn can help save their lives.

"If I had the skills that I had here, I would have been able to escape faster and maybe it wouldn't have gone to that extent and I wouldn't have been beaten so badly," says Arce.

So, for empowering women to defend themselves, Dan Anderson and Dasha Libin are the latest New Yorkers of the Week.

For more information on Anderson's Martial Arts Academy, call 1-212-766-6622 or visit www.andersonsmartialarts.com.


If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to: nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

NY1 News
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

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