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Congo Girls Learning Self-Defense

Hapkido as a Catalyst for Self-Defense and Security

Female students learning Hapkido Self-Defense depicted by AI
Female students learning Hapkido Self-Defense depicted by AI

The situation in the Congo is unfortunately not unique, as many other countries also face the threat of violence and insecurity due to the presence of gangs and other criminal organizations. In such environments, personal safety and self-defense become critical concerns for individuals, especially women, who may be at a higher risk of becoming targets.

The rise of martial arts training programs like Hapkido offers hope for those seeking to protect themselves and regain a sense of agency in their lives. By equipping individuals with the skills and confidence to defend themselves, martial arts training can be a powerful empowerment and security tool.

Congo Girls Learning Self-Defense

In the bustling city of Pointe-Noire, Congo, a wave of empowerment is sweeping through the streets as teenage girls flock to learn hapkido, a martial art introduced to the region five years ago. Led by trainer Armel Matanzala, the Centre de Référence has become a beacon of hope for young girls seeking to protect themselves in an increasingly complex environment. Truly, Congo Girls are learning self-defense.

What is Hapkido?

Hapkido, a Korean martial art, is renowned for its comprehensive approach to self-defense, encompassing a diverse range of techniques, including strikes, joint locks, throws, and grappling. Unlike other martial arts that prioritize physical strength or agility, hapkido emphasizes leverage, redirection of force, and efficient use of body mechanics, making it particularly suitable for individuals of all ages and physical abilities.

The Center de Référence in Congo depicted by AI
The Center de Référence in Congo depicted by AI

The Center de Référence - Training in Hapkido

The training hall resonates with the rhythmic sounds of feet shuffling, bodies twisting, and the occasional grunts of exertion. Trainer Armel Matanzala illuminates the appeal of hapkido, stating, "Although there are several martial arts in our country, there's also hapkido. There are always differences, but anyone who has seen hapkido practice is interested in it."

Testimonials - The Need for Self-Defense

Amidst the rise of violent gangs known as "black babies," who wreak havoc through acts of rape, murder, and other crimes, girls find themselves vulnerable targets.

Séphora Zefo, a learner at the center, underscores the urgency of the situation, expressing her primary motivation for practicing hapkido: self-defense. She emphasizes that in today's climate, girls must equip themselves with the skills to fend off attackers and protect their safety.

Echoing Zefo's sentiments, fellow practitioner Sophia Kangou shares, "Above all, I didn't know how to defend myself against them. But today I can say that hapkido has helped me a lot, because at least I know how to control the people who come to attack me."

Transformative Potential of Hapkido

Kangou's testimonial is reinforced by other hapkido experts, such as Jean-Pierre Mbenga, who highlights the transformative potential of hapkido: "The practice of hapkido brings a lot of things, because today there are girls who are not afraid to walk around anymore. Because at least they know they have something they can use to defend themselves if necessary."

Kangou recounts a harrowing encounter at a bus stop where she faced unwelcome advances from a persistent harasser. Employing the defensive maneuvers learned in hapkido, she effectively thwarted his advances and extricated herself from danger. Her ability to assert control over the situation exemplifies the transformative power of self-defense training in empowering women to reclaim agency over their bodies and lives.


Dragun Defense believes that all martial arts offer valuable skills and principles that can benefit individuals in various aspects of life, including self-defense, physical fitness, mental discipline, and personal growth.

The stories of Zefo and Kangou serve as a testament to hapkido's tangible impact on young women's lives in the Congo. Beyond physical techniques, hapkido instills a sense of empowerment, resilience, and confidence, enabling girls to navigate the complexities of their environment with newfound strength and determination.

As these girls continue to hone their skills and assert their presence in society, they send a clear message to would-be perpetrators: they are no longer easy targets. Through hapkido, they have found a voice, a sense of agency, and a community of support that empowers them to stand tall and defend themselves against any threat that may come their way. In a world plagued by violence and insecurity, hapkido emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a pathway to safety, empowerment, and resilience for women in the Congo and beyond.

Congo Girls are learning self-defense.

Call To Action

As helpful as this insight is we must emphasize the importance of women learning to defend themselves in Congo. Unfortunately, America has seen a rise in violent crimes against women, and it's crucial to be prepared for the what-ifs in life. It's not a matter of scaring anyone but rather being proactive in protecting yourself.

Learning self-defense techniques can be life-changing. It can help increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety, and, most importantly, save your life. Any martial art's true mastery and effectiveness come from the dedication, perseverance, and continual refinement of one's practice. By investing time, effort, and passion into learning and honing martial arts techniques, individuals enhance their abilities and cultivate invaluable qualities such as resilience, confidence, and self-awareness. Ultimately, the journey of self-improvement through martial arts is as rewarding as it is empowering, offering a path toward physical prowess and inner strength. We urge every woman reading this to take the initiative to learn self-defense. Train with us or another academy like us. Whatever you do, please don't wait for something to happen through us or another academy before you take action.

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