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Free online self-defense classes gain members after hate crimes aimed at Asian Americans

Posted at 9:45 AM, Mar 30, 2021

From pushing an elderly person in the back in California’s Bay Area to a string of shootings at massage parlors in metro Atlanta, attacks on Asian Americans across the country have Yunae Mello more concerned for her safety.

“With the recent events, it’s very disheartening,” she said.

Despite the physical violence directed at her community, Mello refuses to live in fear.

“My heart is for there be more unity and more self-confidence,” she said.

Now, Mello’s learning how to better protect herself by training in martial arts.

“It can be something as simple as an arm lock or hitting them in vulnerable parts of their body that can help save you and even save your life,” said Katatrina Buenviaje, founder of KiX, a nonprofit teaching self-defense classes online for free. “In light of the of the recent events that have been happening with the Asian American community, we wanted to just open it up to all community members through Zoom.”

These workouts focus on the fundamentals of Taekwondo. While KiX does teach people how to fight for themselves, Buenviaje says the best defense is actually avoiding conflict.

Instead of learning how to retaliate, we learn how to deescalate situations to promote unity and peace and non-violence,” she said.

For Mello, training with KiX has helped her both physically and mentally.

“It’s not just about punches and kicks, but also the mindset of self-confidence and being able to defend yourself if need be,” she said.

With more people now looking to learn self-defense, KiX is adding more classes for all backgrounds.

“The least that I could do is just bring some sort of knowledge and skill and awareness and empower the different the communities,” Buenviaje said.