By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Westborough – After participating in the Girl Scouts for the past six years, Sakshi Gera from Westborough Troop 30859 recently was the recipient of the Gold Award for her year-long project titled, “The Hi-Yah Effect.”
“When trying to decide on my Gold Award project, I knew I had to address a current issue and have a plan to continue what I do for years to come,” Gera explained. “I noticed there was a discrepancy with the amount of males versus females in karate and there seems to be an increase in violence in society as a whole. I thought what better way to address that problem than to promote self-defense for all.”
At the end of August, prior to heading to UMass Amherst for her freshman year, Sakshi received her first degree senior black belt. She has immersed herself in martial arts and karate for the past seven years and has studied at Metrowest Martial Arts and Wellness Center in Westborough.
“The skills gained benefit everyone at any age but are especially important for women,” Gera added. “I also didn’t want women to be intimidated to take a karate class. I am passionate about karate and want to spread awareness when I can and help to empower others, community and schools.”
Gera’s project was approved and she worked with her advisors to offer free self-defense classes at the Westborough Public Library. At the end of each class, she asked the students to complete a survey for feedback.
“I used the results from these surveys for data analysis,” Gera explained. “When I asked the students to describe in one or two words how they would describe my class I got adjectives like ‘informative’ and ‘defensive.’ When asked what they learned some said, ‘forms,’ ‘blocking systems’ and ‘karate.’ A couple of my students even joined a martial arts studio as a result of taking my class.”
In addition to the free classes, Gera developed a website and blogged about her classes. She also created a karate tutorial that can be viewed on her website and made informational pamphlets that are kept at the Westborough Library.
“One aspect of my project that took me by surprise when researching karate was my discovery that it incorporated the mind aspect as well,” Gera said. “I found out that karate and meditation helps the body and mindset to focus and increases the attention span. I knew that it gave its participants self-defense skills, but this was an added surprise.”
Gera explained that the “Hi-Yah” noise associated with karate is to help support the body during punch or a strike and that the three character values of karate are respect, control and discipline.
Gera hopes her project will have a positive impact on young women.
“I am passionate about karate and want to spread awareness when I can and help to empower others,” she said.
Gera’s website is https://westboroughkarategirl.weebly.com.