BENDER DEFENDERS is a queer and trans community empowerment, Muay Thai and self-defence training movement.
We were born out of Queer Night Pride demonstrations, which were organised in 2019 to reclaim the streets for LGBT+ people after a rise in hate crime. We know that the impact of hate crime on our community is huge AND WE AINT GONNA STAND FOR IT.
Our answer? Come train with us!
In our regular Muay Thai and boxing classes, and our on-demand self-defence workshops, queer and trans people feel the benefits of training a martial art in an inclusive, community centred space.
We get fit and release emotional burdens and anxieties through practising movements, pushing ourselves, connecting with our bodies and with each other. Testimonies from our regulars show how important this space has become for their wellbeing.
We love punching and kicking things, but most of all Bender Defenders is about queer community and joy! We are all stronger together than alone. We connect queer and trans people through sport – something many of us have felt excluded from in mainstream spaces.
So come to our training sessions. Wear our merch proudly. Connect with your community and join us in building queer joy!
And if you’re a fascist, bigot, homophobe or transphobe – then you can F*CK OFF
I’M SOLD – HOW CAN I COME TO A CLASS?
We currently run 2 weekly classes in East London:
- Boxing and Muay thai class for beginners on Saturdays in Bethnal Green,
- Intermediate Muay Thai on Tuesday evenings in Dalston.
You can find more details for both of these on our Instagram @bender_defenders_ or on our Events and Classes page.
CAN I ATTEND A SELF-DEFENCE TRAINING, OR HIRE YOU TO RUN ONE?
We provide on-demand self-defence workshops for queer and trans community groups.
We approach self-defence from a compassionate, trauma-informed and community-led perspective. We teach participants simple, effective strategies for using physical force to keep themselves safe. We use physical movement as a way to release anxiety, anger and fear and to help participants connect with their bodies and their power. We believe that queer and trans people already have a wide range of self-defence skills to draw upon, and we encourage participants to collaborate with trainers in sharing these skills, enabling them to feel more confident and empowered when they use them. We also take a holistic view of self-defence, remembering that keeping people safe means more than avoiding danger in the moment – it means creating community systems to heal from the harm hate crime causes in the long term.
Our workshops are 2 hours long. In this time, you will learn about the legal meaning of self-defence, the importance and power of de-escalation,and some physical self defence techniques you can use, from experienced and knowledgeable queers. Email email@example.com to enquire. And if you want self defence training, you should definitely come to our classes!!
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE ON YOUR LOGOS?
Why Phil, Ash and Pat? Because we are inspired by the immortal actions of our patron saints:
- Ash Kaur (part of the first Benders lesbian Muslim couple along with Iqra) standing up to homophobes here at min. 6.20)
- Phil Mitchell confronting Jonny Highway and his ‘disgusting muck-loving faggot’ abuse
- Pat Butcher for being a queer icon and in real life being a lifelong campaigner for LGBTQI+ rights.
SOCIALS/HOW CAN I FOUND OUT MORE?
Sign up to our public facebook page ‘BECOME A BENDER DEFENDER’ here.