By CBSLA Staff

SIERRA MADRE (CBSLA) — The rise in anti-Asian American Pacific Islander hate crimes has led to a growing increase in registrations for self-defense classes.

There’s also been a call for those witnessing attacks to intervene.

One martial arts academy is teaching people how to protect themselves.

One martial arts academy in Sierra Madre is teaching people how to protect themselves. 

Gary Gapezzani owns the G3 Academy of Martial Arts in Sierra Madre where he teaches Hapkido — a hybrid Korean martial art.

He is teaching his students some basic self-defense moves from hitting pressure points to how to break away from an attacker. 

During the pandemic, Gapezzani moved to virtual classes and outdoor lessons in the park.

He says he is now seeing a renewed interest from people eager to learn these skills. 

“The interest is always there especially now more than ever people really want to come back exercise and people want to feel safe,” Gapezzani said.

Mom Lucille Widjaja signed up her two kids Nalani and Keanu years ago. She says with the rise in violence against the Asian American community, having her kids know how to protect themselves is important. 

“Very aware of the violence… and so I’m like you’re ready, can defend yourself, be aware, don’t attack, but defend yourself,” said Widjaja.

Students in the class range from age 4 to 70 years old.

“Because you showed me that move I am now safe,” said one participant.

Bonny Hsu, a Pasadena mother, says she doesn’t feel as safe anymore and neither do many of her friends.

“A lot of the moms looking for self-defense classes too Asian, not Asian, I think helpful to help others in the situation as well,” Hsu said.

Last Sunday, one group organized by Sabrina Johnson decided to offer a free self-defense class in Pan Pacific Park given the fear many are feeling in the Asian American community.

Police caution that it’s good to know self-defense, but to avoid it at all costs unless necessary.