Fan Yang has been taking self defense classes for years. But she says those skills feel especially important now given the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the city.
“The hope is that I would never have to use it in a real-life scenario, but it definitely makes me feel better walking around knowing that,” Yang said.
The Midtown resident trains with The Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy. They offer free classes regularly through their nonprofit SMASH Self Defense.
But the instructors say interest is about five times the amount it normally is, especially after Monday’s brutal attack on a 65-year-old Filipino-American woman in Hells Kitchen.
“If you’re an Asian person like me walking down the street, you’re wondering, 'Am I gonna be next?' So everyone wants to prevent that," said Assistant Instructor Cuong Dao.
The classes, many of which are streamed online due to the pandemic, teach students how they can use almost anything to fight back if someone is attacking them, including an umbrella, cellphone or water bottle.
But they say your best defense is being alert. Don’t blast music or look down at your phone while you're walking.
“Common sense is the first line of self-defense, area awareness, knowing the area. Part of the class, I'll say to everybody, 'Where you live, how many night lights are there?'" said Jack Shamburger, who is the Sifu.
Yang says the self-defense classes are empowering.
“It’s particularly relevant given what’s happening, but I think in any setting, it’s good knowledge to have,” Yang said.
There will be a series of special free workshops this month and May directly in response to the violence against the Asian community.