Increase In Self-Defense Class Registrations Amid Spike Of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

The rise in anti-Asian American Pacific Islander hate crimes has led to a growing increase in registrations for self-defense classes. Jasmine Viel reports.

Video Transcript

- The rise in anti-Asian hate incidents has sparked a rush to take self-defense classes. KCAL 9's Jasmine Viel went to one martial arts academy teaching its students how to defend themselves.

- Front leg jump front kick.

JASMINE VIEL: Gary Gapezzani owns the G3 Academy of Martial Arts in Sierra Madre, where he teaches hapkido, a hybrid Korean martial art.

GARY GAPEZZANI: First, we learn how to break away. Hands up, step through.

JASMINE VIEL: On this Friday, he is teaching his students some basic self-defense moves from hitting pressure points to how to break away from an attacker.

GARY GAPEZZANI: Boom. Move left, move right, sweep, and finish.

JASMINE VIEL: During the pandemic, he moved to virtual classes and outdoor lessons in the park. He says he has now seen a renewed interest from people eager to learn these skills.

GARY GAPEZZANI: The interest is always there, especially now more than ever. People really want to come back. People want to exercise. People want community. And most important, people want to feel safe.

JASMINE VIEL: Mom Lucille Widjaja signed up her two kids, Noelani and Keanu, years ago. She says, with the rise in violence against the Asian-American community, having her kids know how to protect themselves is important.

LUCILLE WIDJAJA: They're very aware of the violence around the Chinese and the Asian-Pacific people. And so I'm like, you're ready. Don't attack, but you need to be able to defend yourself.

JASMINE VIEL: Students in this class range from four to 70 years old. And those 70-year-olds with a cane being taught how to fight off an attacker. Choke and throw.

GARY GAPEZZANI: And they've called me later on and said, you know, I was attacked. And because you showed me that move, I am now safe.

JASMINE VIEL: Bonnie Hsu, a Pasadena mother, says she doesn't feel as safe anymore, and neither do many of her friends.

BONNY HSU: A lot of the moms in my area have been looking for self-defense classes too, Asian and non-Asian. Overall, I think it would be helpful to help other people in this situation as well.

JASMINE VIEL: Last Sunday, one group decided to offer a free self-defense class in Pan-Pacific Park, given the fear many are feeling in the Asian-American community. Police caution it's good to know self-defense but to avoid it at all costs unless necessary. Gapezzani agrees.

GARY GAPEZZANI: With the things that are happening out in the world with shootings and this and that, it's super-important to know how to be able to defend, not fight, defend oneself.

JASMINE VIEL: In Sierra Madre, Jasmine Viel, KCAL 9 News.