Sunrise over the Ganges. Our intrepid team got up early (I’d say ‘woke’ but that would imply we’d slept through the morning prayers and yoga practice). Our cafe base is directly on the Ghat which is beautiful. It’s also a built-in alarm clock as the day kicks off in earnest at 5.35am. So our 6.30am breakfast was practically mid-morning.
As project manager I learned that for the Dutch ‘half six’ is what we in the UK call ‘half five’ so I now give all meeting times in 24 hour clock for the Dutchies, and in numerals for the Indians. Our Norwegian representative is always early for everything no matter what time we say. Here’s the team after their morning coffee:
We had a record 45 minute journey across the city in the early morning traffic so arrived at the venue an hour ahead of schedule. I mention this detail mostly for the benefit of Floris Eland (our previous project coordinator) to make him weep a little bit. We had plenty of time to admire the huge banner Devesh had created with life-sized pictures. We tried to recreate our poses.
Guy wasn’t quite ready to confront his doppleganger without more coffee in his system.
I like how my picture is managing to look into the camera here although I failed completely to do the same.
The seminar got underway with a large gathering of students from all over the city. Most of these students have worked with FairFight before on our previous visits and it’s a huge pleasure to watch their development. It’s also wonderful to bring them together with our Disha girls who have not had the opportunity to train with other young people in karate until now. We hope they will be inspired by seeing their peers as role models.
All the students were a delight all day – keen and focused. The standard of their martial arts continues to do great credit to their teachers.
Guy explained the principles of Krav Maga and the differences they would see between their Shotokan karate practice and the raw self-defence-in-motion work we would be undertaking. They learned how to adapt their stances and hand placements to drop into a defensive position quickly; using simple and small basic moves to evade, deceive and counter-attack.
We are finding a big increase in the girls’ confidence on this visit. Ashadiya Foundation has made such a difference to these rescued young women. Their laughing, outgoing, friendly personalities are a credit to the stability and love provided by Disha. This seminar contained a lot of practical and rough close-contact work with which they all engaged effectively and with interest. When you consider the distressing circumstances which brought them to Disha you have to feel that the programme is doing powerful work. Here’s Menka, Neelam and Susmita enjoying the day.
It was my pleasure to nominate Pankaj as assistant for the medium-range attack section.
It’s the delight and honour of the assistant to continue to attack, knowing that whatever happens next isn’t going to be much fun. And as the following pictures demonstrate, Pankaj was a great uke (assistant) treating his pain and discomfort with unwavering humour.
Pankaj attacks, is given a nose bleed and a quick visit to the floor.
Guy considers the options. Perhaps he will remove the arm.
Look, no hands!
Pankaj makes a comfortable kneeling stool for the explanation of the principle.
Having quelled his attacker, Guy gently guides his head towards better decisions in the future.
Harald was a helpful horrible attacker which made the girls laugh a lot. Here he is trying to get Kajal to counter:
Drilling is important. A real attack doesn’t allow for thinking time … but the dojo is where we get it wrong until we get it right. Here our attacker is serious, static, and patient. Two of those qualities don’t happen in real life!
And here Lalita works the technique with increasing confidence and always a smile on her face.
Deadly combat can be fun!
Here Anita works her defences with Rishika:
Neelam and Charlie had a lot of fun practising the drills together. Neelam is 16, Charlie is 18 but there’s quite a size difference …
Jet worked with different partners all day and enjoyed getting to know the girls better.
Ujala practising her knife defence against a brutal attacker:
‘Didi, didi, selfie!’ The girls love to take selfies even though they don’t see them posted!
We wrapped up in good time and now we’re getting ready for day two. Guy and I are about to have our prep meeting on the roof so I’ve got my body armour prepared.
Special credits for today to Sensei Sohan, Devesh, Amit and Pankaj for supplying a great venue and super students. Also huge thanks to our enthusiastic local translation and travel team – Dheer and Moyee for their constant positive attitude and problem solving.
Final shot for today is Dheer taking us home through a sudden herd of buffalo. Standard traffic for Varanasi but Charlie is really glad she didn’t have to take her driving test here!