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Worried Britons are increasingly taking up self-defence classes with a spike in the number of people signing up for them after the country was hit by three terrorist attacks within three months. One school teaching self-defence was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying that it had a ten-fold spike in inquiries in the immediate aftermath of last weekend’s terrorist attack on London Bridge in which three terrorists drove a van into pedestrians and then went on a stabbing spree, killing eight persons before being shot dead. Another school said its waiting lists were “backing up” as it struggled to recruit sufficient instructors to cope with the demand. Reece Coker, chief instructor at the Buckinghamshire-based Combat Academy UK, was quoted as saying that, “With bombings or shootings, people tend to think that there’s nothing much they could do.” “But with the style of attack that we saw at London Bridge, killers roaming the streets with knives, there is a sense, rightly, that there is,” he said.
The company said the number of inquiries had jumped by 70 per cent since the terrorist attack in Westminster in March. John Aldcroft, head of the British Academy of Krav Maga, a type of self-defence, said, “The number of people signing up for our trial classes rose ten-fold in the 24 hours after last Saturday’s incident.” “We’ve found that interest always spikes after these types of events — and they seem to be happening with depressing regularity now,” he said.
Traffic to the website of Urban Fit and Fearless in south London doubled last Sunday and Monday. The business is run by Patrice Bonnafoux, a former commando in the French army, who specialises in practical self-defence “rather than the Jack Bauer (from 24, the American thriller) stuff”. “Situations like last Saturday’s (at London Bridge) aren’t binary. There are always variables, always things you can do. Attackers like these are only interested in easy prey,” he said.
Some self-defence courses incorporate first aid, a skill that has also seen an increase in interest since the attacks. St John Ambulance said footage of passers-by giving first aid to the victims of the Westminster Bridge attack inspired a flood of calls and website visits in the days that followed –and that pattern was repeated last week. Britain is reeling under a series of terror attacks as apart from the Westminister assault and the London Bridge attack it was also hit last month by the suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester that claimed 22 lives.