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IN PICTURES: Saudi woman teaches Filipino martial arts for empowerment

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Reem al-Ouda is a 20-year-old Saudi woman teaching Filipino Martial Arts in a sports club in the city of Dhahran, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

While acquiring her computer science degree in Tacoma, a city in Washington state, in 2013, Ouda felt that donning the Islamic headscarf made her appearance stand out.

She felt it was important that she learns self defense to protect herself in case she is vulnerable to any attack, during a time when hate crimes against Muslims were believed to be repetitive.

After searching for martial arts classes, Ouda decided to join the Dojo Martial arts School, a school teaching one of the traditional forms of martial arts practiced by some of Filipino ethnic groups.

An American trainer of Filipino origin together with her husband are teaching a group of youth this art, which is based on five combat patterns: Eskrima, modern Arnis, pekiti tirsia, Bo staff and hand-to-hand combat.

Ouda told Al Arabiya English: “My goal is to empower women, make them confident and able to defend themselves in case they are subjected to any form of harassment. And to apply what they learn when necessary, at the right time and place."

The dojo art is known for its rapidness, and attack and defense strategies, Ouda days, as she describes the art as a type of combat fencing, where two individuals confront one another, with each armed with some combat tools and a huge stick.

One learns how to attack their opponent and at the same time defend themself from counter attacks.

After spending two years of learning combat, Ouda became a certified martial arts trainer. She now teaches the art in a sports club in Saudi Arabia, and aims to work with international bodies to empower women in conflicts to learn combat skills to protect themselves.