Versova's bodyguard

Updated: Sep 08, 2019, 10:28 IST | Anju Maskeri

Fitness expert Warda Nadiadwala ties up with local NGOs to provide self-defence lessons to underprivileged girls in the city

Versova's bodyguard
Warda Nadiadwala

Fitness expert Warda Nadiadwala's six-pack abs are hard-earned. "My husband had said that he would marry me on the condition that I become super fit," she jokes. The diktat was taken seriously. After practising taekwondo and mixed martial arts, Warda, who is married producer Sajid Nadiadwala, launched Self Defence, a YouTube show, last year. Here, she offered basic techniques to defend oneself in any situation. After the completion of season one, she went off the radar for eight months. "People in my circle were wondering why I had chosen to take a break," she says. "The truth is, I wasn't really on a break. I was working offline."

Last month, she released season 2 of Self Defence on YouTube, which has already garnered shoutouts from Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani. Nadiadwala has also gone beyond her digital presence by tying up with a local NGO, Mesco, to take self-defence to underprivileged girls in Mumbai.

Warda Nadiadwala
Warda Nadiadwala

"I hail from a family, where all members are into fitness, including my in-laws. So, I thought why not spread the knowledge." She has started with her own neighbourhood in Versova. The classes are tailored for young girls. The fact that it's gendered doesn't bother her. "Of course, boys need to be educated so that violence is preempted. But it's also important to teach these girls to protect themselves, because they are vulnerable and it is very easy to take advantage of their situation. Many of them come from orphanages and extremely poor families," she says.

The classes are divided into four segments: warm up, stretches, mental defence, and physical defence. The first session—it happens twice a month—saw a turnout of 20 girls. Given the novelty of the sessions, the participants were bundles of energy. But they also had questions. "Initially, they found the exercise funny, because all of us like to believe that we can never be in a situation like that. But slowly, they have begun to understand the importance of it." The fact that an outsider is interested in their lives made the exercise all the more exciting for them.

According to Nadiadwala, one of the most important techniques is to target the pressure points of the attacker. This includes the eyes, throat, joints and groin. "For that, you need to be alert. The idea is identify the threat, and then to temporarily render the assaulter immobile so that you have time to scoot," she says, particularly emphasizing on the last word.

"I tell them don't try to be overly heroic and continue standing at the spot. Run. You have to be practical because this isn't a movie. Nobody is going to come and save you." The module also includes mental techniques like being focused. "That's actually the most important thing, because when you're held up in a situation like that, you can't panic." Although Nadiadwala has begin the module with children, she eventually wants to extend it adult women. "I'll take one step at a time."

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