WOMEN have long been seen as the weaker sex and have therefore been more susceptible to various forms of abuse. However, Jerome Morgan is on a mission to change all this by empowering women to fight back with a series of self-defence classes he has been offering through his organisation, Archangel Personal Security and Consultant Agency.
Morgan, who is an internationally certified kickboxer and karate expert, started these classes in 2010 following a summer camp with women between 12 to 30 years old. During the camp, which was organised by the Central Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, he learned that a number of these women had been abused, and this was being perpetrated mostly by boyfriends, dons and gang members.
"One girl told me that one day she was going home from school and she was met by this guy from Tawes Pen, and he told her when she needed to go to his house, what she needed to wear, and what was going to happen to her if she didn't go. She said she just ignored him and a few days after, the same guy went to her school and hit her."
Following the camp, one of Morgan's friends suggested that they start to offer self-defence classes and the karate expert agreed. The initiative was an instant success.
Although Morgan conducts group classes, most of his sessions are with individuals. This means that a student will be able to secure his services at the time, date and place most suitable to her. The techniques taught during these sessions vary from basic lessons such as hand-to-hand combat, to the most advanced self-defence training where students are taught how to disarm a perpetrator armed with dangerous weapons. For example, beginners are taught how to use tools readily at their disposal such as their handbags, their shoes heels, pens, or the eyeglasses they are wearing, to ward off attacks.
"When these guys come at you, they are not coming to play around and you are not sure whether or not they are going to take your life, and the way Jamaica is going now, it is highly possible that they are going to take your life, so you have to do everything in your power to elude them or to subdue them," he explained.
Morgan has a mixed clientele ranging from students to professional women such as teachers, doctors and nurses. The aim, he said, while teaching these women, is to empower them and to increase their awareness about how to guarantee their personal security. It helps that women are taught at various locations.
"We take people on the road. If you are a teacher, we take you in a classroom setting; if you are a nurse, we take you on the hospital compound and things like that. So it's more of a practical thing. If you wear high heels to work, then that's how I train you," he said.
The classes are taught by Morgan and four other colleagues who are all trained in kickboxing and karate. Morgan has competed in several karate tournaments over the years where he has secured several first place finishes.
"We actually teach self-defence, but there are techniques that you learn from the karate class that we incorporate in the self-defence technique. With karate, you have a more set schedule in terms of the environment in which you operate and set exercises that you must do, and a set of classes. It's like a syllabus that you have to complete, unlike self-defence classes," he said.