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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Taxi drivers taught martial arts
Black cabs
The drivers have expressed fears about their safety
Taxi drivers in Birmingham are being trained in martial arts to defend themselves from aggressive customers.

The 200 private hire and taxi drivers are being taught basic street defence techniques after voicing concerns about their personal safety.

Their trainer, Fay Goodman, is an expert in the use of a 16th century blade, called the iado sword.

Martial arts
The drivers are taught basic martial arts
She said: "We are teaching them how to defuse difficult situations - we are not advocating they go round throwing customers over their shoulders."

The drivers wanted to learn how best to deal with hostile passengers.

Mrs Goodman's company teaches them how to use verbal skills to diffuse a situation and how to protect themselves.

The four-day course concentrates on reading body language and learning what is permitted by law.

Hostile passengers

Mrs Goodman has Dan grades in several martial arts and is an expert in the art of Shinto Ryu.

She is a board member of the national committee examining violence in the workplace.

Mrs Goodman said she had had very positive feedback from people she has trained.

She said: "Drivers have called me to tell me the course was great, that they've used a particular skill and it really worked."

Nightclub doormen in Birmingham have now requested similar training.

In December 2000 an Asian taxi driver in South Yorkshire was stabbed to death by a passenger who then tried to burn his victim's body by setting fire to the car.

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