Susan Mita learns defensive moves during a self-defense class at the Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo on May 29.

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

Senior women learned tips on how to protect themselves in a self-defense class taught by Megan Teramoto of the Maryknoll Karate Club last Saturday in the courtyard of the Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo.

Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Little Tokyo Service Center and Nikkei Progressives organized the class in response to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, many targeting elderly Asian women.

After light warm-ups, Teramoto, dressed in white karate gi, taught some basic moves of self-awareness and self-defense. She said the most important thing was to be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes up, rather than looking down at your phone.

Standing in lines, the women passed one another and were shown how to walk with confidence and make eye contact.

Megan’s sisters, Emily and Beth Teramoto, and Miguel Vargas also helped teach moves such as stomping and punching. However, Megan said defensive moves are a last resort.

In a follow-up email to class participants, Teramoto gave three tips:

• The best self-defense is to be aware and avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations;

• If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, try to escape;

• Only as a last resort should you fight back with all your might and…NEVER GIVE UP!!!

“I cannot stress how important it is to always be aware of your surroundings and to keep your eyes up! Your strongest body part is your mind and you already have the tools to keep yourself safe by being mentally alert,” she said.

Maryknoll Karate Club members Megan Teramoto, sisters Emily and Beth and Miguel Vargas.

Emily Takei Lehrer said she came to the class with her cousin, Hideko Ikehara, a member of Higashi.

“We feel we need to be able to defend ourselves if there’s an attack,” Takei Lehrer said.

Rod Kuratomi will teach Kubotan keychain personal self-defense on Saturday, June 26, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Terasaki Budokan, 249 S. Los Angeles St. (between Second and Third streets). Classes are geared for seniors. There will be a $5 charge for the Kubotan. 

To enroll, contact C. Toyoshima at by June 19.

Photos by MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo

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