April 9, 2019 1:32 pm
Updated: April 9, 2019 6:28 pm

‘It’s not about being strong’: Self-defense classes in Kelowna help empower women

WATCH ABOVE: Community reporter Shay Galor learns some self-defense techniques at Pacific Top Team in Kelowna, a martial arts studio that offers Women Empowered self-defense classes.


Pacific Top Team, a martial arts studio in Kelowna, is helping women learn how to defend themselves using Brazilian jiu-jitsu moves.

“We like to call it a more intelligent way to defend yourself,” said martial arts instructor Sarah Draht. “It’s not about being strong and big. It’s about technique and leverage.”

Draht was a security guard at a popular downtown pub in Kelowna for years, and often had to defend herself.

“I always walked out of my shift totally fine and we broke up a lot of fights,” Draht said.

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Pacific Top Team also teaches co-ed jiu-jitsu, women’s only Muay Thai as well as classes for children.

But Draht says teaching women to defend themselves is, by far, her favourite part the job.

“The most rewarding part is watching the ladies walk in,” Draht said. “And the difference to the end of the course. Seeing them having the confidence of knowing how to defend themselves.”

The studio offers a four-week women empowered course, as well as one-time workshops.

Topics include coming out of neck grips, wrist grabs and hair pulls.

“For an attack to happen there has to be a predator, a victim and opportunity,” Draht said.

“I’m in a grocery store and it’s late at night and I’m buying milk and there’s a creepy guy buying milk, but keeping an eye on me. If I go to my car and text in my car for five minutes and leave the door unlocked, I’m creating an opportunity.

“So victim, predator, opportunity. Never finish that triangle.”

Draht believes any woman can learn to defend herself, regardless of age or level of strength.

“We meet every lady where they’re at,” Draht said. “I’ve had ladies that are 50 taking the course. I have girls that are 10 taking the course.”

The studio is holding a self-defense workshop for women at 10 a.m. on April 27.

The event is a fundraiser that will help send the studio’s athletes to compete internationally and is by donation only.

Registration for the workshop is online on the Pacific Top Team website.

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