Self Defense For Women

About us


Following a near grabbing on the streets of Johannesburg, our founder Risha Patak Harie, shifted focus away from her Information Technology career to help disadvantaged women in SA learn to protect themselves. Her martial arts background helped her stay safe in the moments that counted and she chose to share that by establishing i-LEAD Self Defense for Women. 

The Program

i-LEAD's Self Defense Training incorporates practical martial arts techniques combined with real life threat scenarios. Training is provided in a safe environment and our focus is safety awareness and self protection techniques. Prevention is key! Our students develop both verbal and physical self defense skills.

We aim is to instill self confidence and self discipline. 

Case Study

i-LEAD was founded in 2012 to make practical self defense readily available to women and girls in South Africa. Our goal is to prepare and enable women to protect themselves against violent crimes, by providing safety awareness and self defense as a life-skill training program. 

In the first 3 months of its operations, i-LEAD performed a rapid assessment of existing self defense programmes in Gauteng as well as their involvement in social based initiatives. In addition, formal discussions were held with the Gauteng NGO Shelter Network to better understand the shelter landscape and to determine a needs analysis for safety awareness and self defense as a life-skill training program. Through this research it became evident that there is a lack of preventative self defense interventions with women in the poorest parts of our communities.  

Equipped with an understanding of local issues i-LEAD began a pilot phase project with POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse). The program was named ‘Bakhululekile Abafazi – Women are free.’ The participants were women who had experienced domestic violence and were residing at POWA safety shelters. Participants were taught to take precautions and develop their awareness, to lessen the likelihood of being attacked.   Participants were also introduced to survival techniques and fighting skills for the purpose of teaching the women to evade the threat and reach safety. On program completion participants had learnt to identify the threat, and to take control of the situation thereby minimizing the threat.

The success of the initiative inspired i-LEAD to continue the program with participants from other shelters for women in distress. This has diversified the program audience to include 1) Victims of Gender Based Violence, and 2) Victims of Human Trafficking.

What does i-LEAD mean to us

Together we will be: 

  • Learning personal safety and self defense, 
  • Empowering ourselves and building confidence, 
  • Together we will Achieve our goals,          
  • And students will go home with the strength and knowledge that you can Defend yourself!