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Self-Defense Class Gives Mothers & Daughters Chance To Bond, Learn Self-Empowerment

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's not your typical mother-daughter bonding experience.

KDKA's Kym Gable learned recently that some local moms and daughters are celebrating Mother's Day with a different kind of "day-out."

No cooking or crafting classes here; instead, groups of parents and kids get physical with "The Fearless Female Safety Seminar."

The brother-sister team of Daniel Piocquidio and Lisa Johnson created the comprehensive one-hour workshops after a close friend was strangled by an assailant.

"She told us after the attack she didn't know what to do. She froze, and that's when Danny and I decided to incorporate our background," explained Johnson. "I'm a rape aggression defense certified instructor. And my brother, Danny, is a martial artist and black belt of 25 years."

Their clients range from corporate leaders to college co-eds to Girl Scouts. The seminar focused on moms and daughters. The girls were ages 11 and 12.

"We see their confidence level increase and they go out more empowered… one hour full of power," said Johnson.

Shannon Maschmeier attended the seminar with her daughter, Anya.

"You always wonder when they head off to the bathroom by themselves or want to wander around the mall by themselves, what's going to happen? You just don't know. You can't take those chances," Maschmeier said.

Johnson and Piocquidio first teach awareness and avoidance, but if it comes to a dangerous confrontation, they make sure the girls are ready to react.

"That's where we teach simple effective techniques to escape," said Johnson.

Piocquidio described one of the common techniques that attackers use.

"A lot of these different types of incidents start with a wrist grab, so these little girls are grabbed and dragged away. We're going to teach them how to get out of wrist grabs," he said.

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The ladies also learn how to block, kick, strike with a "tiger palm," and escape from a hair-pull and grab from behind. They also incorporate strategies to deal with bullying.

"I thought it was very educational," said mom Andrea Vogel. "But they made something serious really fun and… these techniques seem like they really work."

"It makes me feel confident, stronger, cause I didn't know I was that strong, and I just really had a lot of power. I'm happy. I'm very empowered," 12-year-old Anya added.

Fearless Female teamed up with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. A portion of all proceeds supports that charity.

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