Kuwaiti girls use martial arts to counter bullies and violence

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Kajukenbo’s name was derived from the various aspects of martial arts it includes: karate (KA), judo and jujitsu (JU), kenpo (KEN) and boxing (BO). (AFP)
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Each form teaches techniques that can be used to fend off an attack. (AFP)
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The sport called Kajukenbo was born in Hawaii in the 1940s. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Kuwaiti girls use martial arts to counter bullies and violence

  • In a small hall in Kuwait City, women and girls in black uniforms gather to learn the basics of self-defense
  • A 2010 study found that a woman is assaulted a day in Kuwait, according to Ghada Al-Ghanem, of the Women’s Cultural and Social Society (WCSS)

KUWAIT CITY: Asma Hasnawi and her daughter Riham spend more than 12 hours a week learning kajukenbo, a mixed martial art the mother says boosts her child’s confidence and thwarts bullying.
In a small hall in Kuwait City, women and girls in black uniforms gather to learn the basics of self-defense.
On their left sleeves are the flags of Kuwait and the US state of Hawaii, where the hybrid martial art of kajukenbo was developed in the 1940s.
The sport’s name was derived from the various forms of martial arts it includes: karate (KA), judo and jujitsu (JU), kenpo (KEN) and boxing (BO).
Each form teaches techniques that can be used to fend off an attack, says Hasnawi, 33, who stands in class alongside her 12-year-old daughter and other girls.
“I initially wanted to explore this sport, but I continued to practice it to be able to defend myself,” she tells AFP.
Hasnawi still remembers being bullied as a child — something her daughter has struggled with at school too.
But she says Riham has “changed a lot” since they started practicing kajukenbo, gaining patience and strength through the sport.
“She has transformed. At school, she used to get really angry and quickly agitated if someone would say something to her,” Hasnawi says.
“Now, it’s something normal that she can (healthily) deal with.”
There is no recent data in Kuwait on cases of violence against women, who enjoy more freedoms than those in neighboring countries.
A 2010 study found that a woman is assaulted a day in Kuwait, according to Ghada Al-Ghanem, of the Women’s Cultural and Social Society (WCSS).
The WCSS, whose goal is to help and encourage women’s participation in the Kuwaiti community, has dealt with a number of assault cases and Ghanem believes the actual figure may be higher.
Hung on the red and black walls of the Street Warrior Academy is a poster of two men practicing the sport.
“Kajukenbo teaches your child the methods and arts of self-defense,” it reads, complimenting the mottos of “strength and honor” and “street warrior” on the backs of the girls’ uniforms.
The students closely watch their instructor, Faisal Al-Gharib, as he explains how to counter an attack with the help of his son.
The girls then pair up to take what they have learnt and put it into practice.
In another instance, the instructor’s son mimics an attack with a wooden knife on one of the more experienced pupils, who wears a black belt.
Already familiar with the exercise, the student explains: “I pretend that I have surrendered... and then I grab his hand on my neck, push it down and move it away.”
More than 120 girls and women between the ages of four and 50 participate in the academy’s different kajukenbo classes, which are held in a room with training weapons lining its walls.
Some 40 men and boys also currently take part in kajukenbo classes at the club on different days from the women.
For Um Saleh, the sport has helped her twin 13-year-old daughters become more independent and decisive.
“It gave them something to focus on other than social media,” she says.
Gharib, the instructor, established the academy in 2014 after learning kajukenbo in the United States. He says he wanted to teach the sport to women back home as a way to stay fit and to defend themselves against any attack.
As part of the training, he presents his students with different scenarios, including assaults and knife attacks.
“We focus on self-defense skills and place the girls in conditions similar to those on the street so we can build their self-confidence and teach them exactly when and where to expect the hit,” Gharib says.
The academy, which has a strict confidentiality policy, has become a safe haven for many girls and women that have been victims of assault or bullying.
It is one of dozens of similar clubs and academies that have opened in Kuwait as kajukenbo gains popularity. Although in the rest of the Gulf, the sport remains relatively unknown.
“Being a (victim) of assault, whether in school or on the street, is what pushed some of these girls and women to pursue the sport,” says Fai Al-Fahed, one of the instructors.
“Ultimately, girls are embracing this kind of martial art and we see it boosting their self-confidence.”
Khalida Bashir says she was drawn to kajukenbo after watching clips of the sport online.
“I used to be afraid of everything, but this sport changed me,” she tells AFP.
“I have become more confident and more patient. Some say this is a man’s sport, but that is, in fact, not true.”


Libyan government boasts of new weapons despite arms embargo

Updated 39 min 31 sec ago
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Libyan government boasts of new weapons despite arms embargo

CAIRO/BENGHAZI, Libya: Fighters allied with the Tripoli government in Libya say they have received armored vehicles and “quality weapons” despite a UN arms embargo on the country.
A Facebook page linked to the Government of National Accord (GNA) posted photos appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving at a port, without saying who supplied them.
The Facebook page is run by the media office for the GNA’s counter-offensive against Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA).
Supporters of the various militias allied with the government say the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored vehicles, were supplied by Turkey.
Spokesmen for Turkey’s military and Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel an offensive launched by the LNA
The battle for the Libyan capital has threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. The UN Security Council imposed an open-ended arms embargo on Libya in February of the same year.
Fathi Bashagha, the interior minister for the Tripoli-based government, also visited Turkey late in April to activate “security and defense agreements” between the two governments.
The offensive on Tripoli was launched April 4 by the LNA, which controls the country’s eastern half.
Haftar, who in recent years has been battling extremists and other militias across eastern Libya, says he is determined to restore stability to the North African country. He has received support from several countries in the region including the UAE and Egypt.
“The GNA supplies armor, ammunition and ... weapons, to its forces who are defending Tripoli,” read a statement published on Facebook.
The weapons embargo has been regularly violated by different groups in Libya, according to the UN. Haftar has accused Turkey and Qatar of supplying weapons to his rivals.
In a September report, the UN’s group of experts on the country noted an increase in the number of armored vehicles supplied to LNA.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities.
Initially controlling swathes of Libya’s east, Haftar launched an offensive in the south of the country in January before attacking the coastal capital last month.
His forces have been held back from the city center by pro-government forces, with fighting continuing on the outskirts of Tripoli and particularly in the southern suburbs.




Daesh attack

Two guards and a soldier were killed and four other people were kidnapped on Saturday in a suspected Daesh attack targeting Libya’s Zella oilfield, a security source said.
The death toll was confirmed by the National Oil Company (NOC) which condemned the attack in a statement on Saturday evening.
The attackers struck at an entrance gate to the field, which lies near the town of Zella about 760 km southwest of the capital, Tripoli, before fleeing, according to the source and local residents who asked not to be named.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency later on Saturday.
The Zella field belongs to Zueitina Oil Company, which pumped 19,000 barrels per day on average in the last quarter of 2018 across all its fields.
An engineer told Reuters workers at the field were safe and facilities had not been damaged.
Libya’s NOC chief said on Saturday continued instability in the country could cause it to lose 95 percent of oil production.
Speaking in Saudi Arabia ahead of a ministerial panel gathering on Sunday of top OPEC and non-OPEC producers, Mustafa Sanalla also confirmed the Zella attack.
Islamic State has been active in Libya in the turmoil since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The militant group took control of the coastal city of Sirte in 2015 but lost it late in 2016 to local forces backed by US airstrikes.
In the last two years, the group has targeted three state institutions in Tripoli, home of the UN-backed government of national accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Serraj.
Saturday’s assault took place as LNA, which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, mounts an offensive to control Tripoli.