A woman who regained the self-confidence she lost after an assault through self-defence classes is hoping to inspire others to learn.


Kotte Aguilar was motivated to learn how to fight back after her anxiety was triggered following the murder of Juliana Herrera in Christchurch in January.

“I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating – I was so scared. I was sleeping with a knife under my bed,” she said.

She said she had just dropped someone off near the scene of Herrera’s murder when she found out what had occurred.

“It really hit me and so I think I went into shock for a few days,” she said.

She herself had been assaulted years prior.

“I just felt there was someone out there hurting people and that I was next,” she said.

After seeing a therapist, she decided to learn self-defence skills.

Aguilar’s teacher, Shizoku Martial Arts instructor Chris Cameron, said self-defence is “something that should be like swimming, taught from a little age”.

“It gives people such a confidence so we do it because we want people to get powerful,” he said.

The classes have helped her rebuild the self-confidence she lost following the attack.

Now Aguilar is encouraging other women and children to take up classes to learn how to remove themselves from a situation, deescalate it and to fight back if necessary.

“There is fear from going to the coffee shop at midday, there is fear from going to the bus stop after school and we can’t live in fear,” she said.

She’s also calling for all schools to offer self-defence classes.

It comes after surveys carried out at three Christchurch schools in the last two years show many students are being abused.

“I don’t think anyone will dare get near me now. I think my energy’s changed so much in the way I carry myself,” she said.

“I hope I am a threat now, you know. I’m really confident.”