By Melissa Garcia

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Police in Denver are beefing up their free women’s self-defense training in honor of the #MeToo movement that has been sweeping social media.

More than than 70 women showed up Saturday at the Rude Recreation Center near Federal and Colfax to learn the mindset and skills to help them fight back.

self defense 1 Denver Police Boost Citizen Self Defense Training In Response To #MeToo Movement

(credit: CBS4)

As more women come forward voicing claims of sexual violence, police want them to be prepared.

A couple of the women who attended Saturday’s 5-hour course have experienced sexual violence firsthand.

“I really wanted to take a self-defense class,” said Cat Nash, a survivor of sexual abuse. “To re-gain that power for myself and to really show the women in my community and my friends and family and future children what it looks like to have power as a woman,” she told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.

self defense 2 Denver Police Boost Citizen Self Defense Training In Response To #MeToo Movement

(credit: CBS4)

Denver police Sergeant Noel Ikeda teaches the self-defense classes that are specifically designed for women. The 7th-degree black belt instructor has been an officer with the Denver Police Department for 17-years. For ten of those years, he worked directly with victims of assault.

“We noticed that talking to a lot of the victims that if they just knew the simple concepts of self defense, that they would not have to be a victim,” Sgt. Ikeda said.

In light of new sexual violence reports coming in after the start of the #MeToo movement, the department has boosted its citizen training.

The moves are largely based on the Israeli defense forces system known as krav maga.

self defense 3 Denver Police Boost Citizen Self Defense Training In Response To #MeToo Movement

(credit: CBS4)

Officers have begun putting on longer classes more frequently and teaching new techniques.

Saturday’s five-hour course began with women sitting in a classroom style session to learn basic prevention knowledge.

Before long, Ikeda and his 17-year-old daughter, who volunteers her time to help him teach, had the class up and active to learn the physical techniques.

“I like that we don’t have to be polite. Women can be aggressive, and direct and strong if we are feeling threatened, and it’s okay,” said Sheila Cassil, a Denver resident who attended the training.

Sheila’s teenage step-daughter Audrey Cassile also saw value in improving her skills to fight back.

“Put your fists up and empower yourself. I’m personally very small, so any opportunity I can to get stronger… I think is good,” Audrey said.

self defense 4 Denver Police Boost Citizen Self Defense Training In Response To #MeToo Movement

(credit: CBS4)

The Denver Police Department expects to put on its next free self-defense class in late January.

For information on upcoming class dates and to sign up, people should contact DPD Officer Robert Gibbs at robert.gibbs@denvergov.org.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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