Nathan O'Connor of Rhino MMA offers free self defence classes for women
Nathan O'Connor of Rhino MMA offers free self defence classes for women Jann Houley

Teaching women to defend themselves Rhino style

NATHAN 'Chubbs' O'Connor regrets he's let Rockhampton down by not training more of its women.

He and his wife, who operate Rhino MMA in town and in Yeppoon, offer a free self defence seminar for women aged nine to 90 each year.

The next is this Friday May 31 from 6 to 9 pm at their shed next to the Great Western Hotel on Stanley Street.

"We plan them every year, and every year there's some terrible event that reminds us why we need to put them on,” he said.

"This year it's the guy who tried to drag the girl into his ute.”

He said he was really proud that last year's "massive” turnout numbered over 100 women and girls.

Mr O'Connor began martial arts training during a childhood which was characterised by domestic violence and alcohol.

"I grew up watching my mother getting beat up and watching her beat other people up,” he said.

"That was the inner fire for me to start training to protect myself and anyone I love.”

He ran nightclub security around Queensland for over twenty years and saw his fair share of conflict.

Mr O'Connor is disgusted by "money makers and scammers” who charge hundreds of dollars for self defence seminars and promise the earth.

"You can't read books and tell people how to react; you can't teach women fancy moves and expect them to remember then in the moment,” he said.

Instead he teaches "raw” skills which don't take months to learn such as stabbing motions, swearing, going for the eyes.

"Self defence for women should be free, accessible and offered yearly so they can refresh their skills,” he said.

No bookings are necessary for the self defence seminars and they don't demand a high level of fitness.

"You don't need muscles to learn how to get your second knuckle into someone's eye socket,” Mr O'Connor said.

Rhino offers group sessions in boxing, muay thai kickboxing, brazilian ju jitsu, wrestling and mixed martial arts which is a combination of all the others made famous by UFC cage fighters.

They also offer community sessions, in particular working with children who have anxiety disorders or sensory processing problems associated with autism.

"We can't keep our women and children safe every minute,” he said.

"But we can train them to keep themselves safe.

"I couldn't help my Mum but that doesn't mean I haven't been able to help a lot of ladies since.”