These female trainers teach New Yorkers how to defend themselves

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Three trainers, each an expert in self-defense, discussed the issues of sexual assault -- and why taking self-defense classes are critical.

"It's a very important time for women," said Jane Ray, programming director at the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy in the East Village.

From movements like #MeToo, to the rapid increases in sexual assault allegations in the entertainment industry, the focus has shifted.

"I feel like more and more news about rape and abuse are coming out. All of a sudden, everyone's eyes are turned on this widespread issue that's been happening for a long time," said Viktoria Makarova from the Krav Maga Academy in Chelsea.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in five women across the country have experienced rape at some point in their lives.

When it comes to self- defense, Gabrielle Rubin, "Female Awareness" instructor, expands the conversation in explaining that even in physical self-defense classes, handling situations socially or in the workplace aren't discussed. That's where her classes are different; they bring awareness on these social situations.

"Most self-defense classes start from the moment that someone has their hands on you. It is important to learn how not to be a target in the first place as well; that's where "Female Awareness" comes in," she said.

"You hear reports about women getting raped and women getting abused," said Makarova. "Suddenly it starts clicking. There needs to be more places ... that just empower women and give them the tools they need to deal with certain situations."

These three trainers explained why the education of self-defense is important for not only women, but for everyone. They also discussed and encouraged the resource and benefit of taking self-defense classes. For Rubin, so far, her experience as an instructor has been very rewarding.

"The response I get over the decade that I've been teaching is really special because you're changing people's lives," she said. "Or they walk away feeling more confident, just changing certain things that they were doing."

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