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School tells girl students to grow nails for self-defence

The phrase ‘hitting the nail on the head’ has a whole new meaning now. For perhaps the first time in the history of educational institutions, Vidyanidhi School and Junior College at Vile Parle will not prohibit, but instead encourage the practice of growing nails among its female students, for the sake of self-defence. The school has decided to enrol all female students between Stds IV and XII in a self-defence course, in which they will be taught how to use arms, legs and nails to defend themselves against assailants, in the event of an attack.


Nailing it: Vinod Koombang, trainer from the Indian Fight Club, demonstrates how nails can be used in self-defence. Pic/Satyajit Desai

If your’e thinking long curling talons and nail art, think again. The students can only grow their nails an extra 1 millimetre — any longer, and they will be prone to breakage, defeating the purpose.

The course will be kick-started on February 8, in course of which the girls will be taught techniques they could use on their assailants, using their hands, legs and nails. Trainers from Indian Fight Club, Versova have been roped in to impart lessons to the pupils.

Vinod Koombang, trainer from the Indian Fight Club, said, “The girls can grow their nails just 1 millimetre long, not more. Nails longer than that will not help them, but rather break when they try to defend themselves. Even Shivaji used nails during warfare. An individual can use nails in different ways, when there is an attack on them. We will teach basic nail techniques to girl students, as also use of limbs. Students above 11-year-old can maintain slightly grown nails for their own safety.”

Dr Mehta, trustee of Vidyanidhi School and Junior College, said, “Shivaji also used bagh nakh in his time, and goddesses also keep long nails. We are not encouraging the girls to grow their nails for fashion, but for the safety of their own selves. The techniques involving their nails will help them in future. The girls can grow nails a little, and not extremely long ones for fashion. It is important to acquire these skills in this scenario, where they are not safe.”

Priyanka Rajani, principal of the institution, said, “Most people think self-defence and martial arts is synonymous, but in truth self-defence comprises a set of practical techniques that can be used to defend oneself. This is the need of the hour. We have martial arts in schools, but keeping in mind the present scenario, it is basic self-defence tactics that need to be incorporated. We are strictly against growing nails for fashion, and of course, hygiene has to be maintained. Finger nails could be used as a weapon.”

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Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician, said, “The most important lesson in self-defence is to be always alert. An alert mind is more important than strong muscles. Children must be taught to recognise potentially dangerous situations, evaluate odds and have a safety network to get in touch with.”

Parents respond
If girls need to safeguard themselves from any assault in this scenario, and if nails can be used to do that, then there is no harm in growing them. I appreciate that the school is going against its usual rules to help the female students.
— Sabah Parkar, parent of a Std VI student of the school

I have long nails but my daughters have never grown theirs. If they learn nail techniques from the school and use them to defend themselves, there is no harm in it. I don’t mind my daughters growing them for their own safety. In fact I too will encourage my daughters to grow their nails as the city is very unsafe.
— Bindu Panikar, parent of Std XI and Std VII students of the school

It’s okay if the school wants to teach nail techniques in self-defence to ensure the safety of students, but the techniques should not be used for other purposes, such as fights between students. The girls should not grow their nails for fashion.
— Arundhati Chavan, President, Parent Teachers Association United forum

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