A Derry gymnasium is aiming to empower women with self-defense classes later this month.

Team Torres Derry academy owner Martin McLaughlin, who is the North West’s only Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, will take a group of women to the ‘In Her Strength’ program starting Monday 25 april.

Martin, who is also a black belt in judo, will teach female-only class contact self-defense, focusing on fight, flight or freeze responses.

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It is understood that the idea came about after conversations with women who wanted to engage in a program that would give them the opportunity to improve both their inner and outer confidence and self-esteem.

The Brandywell and Bogside Health Forum (BBHF) is facilitating the initiative through its new mental health project “The Right Time, Right Place”.

Registration for the program is now closed, but Bronagh Cooper, mental health coordinator for BBHF, said MyDerry that it is a “must have” program.

She said: “During the conversations, the women expressed that they would like both a physical and an emotional element in the program.

“Following this, we brought together a working group including Martin McLaughlin from the Torres team, Deirdre Kelly, Resilience Facilitator and Stephen Sweeney, Social Worker and myself to design the program, the result being an eight weeks where the ladies meet twice. per week.

“One Monday the ladies will learn contact self-defense classes at Team Torres in Pennyburn, and on Wednesday they will take part in confidence and self-esteem workshops, focusing on self-compassion, emotional understanding, growth mindset and personal development goals.

“Most importantly, it’s a program where we can come together, make healthy connections within our community, and have fun.”

Meanwhile, Martin McLaughlin, who has been teaching BJJ for more than a decade, said he was excited to get started.

“When done correctly, martial arts training can have huge benefits for confidence, fitness and self-esteem,” he said.

“During this eight-week block, we are looking to facilitate, teach and empower a new group of women who have enrolled in this course.

“This will also be a first of its kind for our city – a women’s self-defense class taught exclusively using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We are thrilled to be involved in this project.”

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