Knife-wielding hijackers could be in for a surprise if they take on one of 50 Hongkongers who took a self-defence course this month.
The group learnt Krav Maga, a self-defence system against street attacks, muggings and plane hostage situations - including how to deal with a knifeman on an aircraft. The skill allows men and women, young and old, to send an attacker face down on the seats of an aircraft and immobilise his arm.
Krav Maga was developed in Hungary in the 1930s to protect Jews against the Nazis and is used by the Israeli Defence Forces and taught around the world.
The Hong Kong course, on December 1, was the first to be held in the city.
"I'm just a middle-aged woman. I wouldn't have the strength to fight back if I were attacked," said Tina Chow, a frequent flier, who took the workshop with her husband and daughter.
"I want to know how to react in case of emergency. I may not remember all that I've learned, but at least my body may have an idea of how it should move."
The workshop was organised by Krav Maga Hong Kong, a member of the International Krav Maga Federation, which has been providing training courses to government bodies and the public since it was set up in 2008.
While Hong Kong is considered relatively safe, some of its residents have been caught up in recent situations such as the deadly Manila bus hostage crisis in 2010 and instances of air rage.
"It would make a difference if someone knew Krav Maga in these situations," Krav Maga Hong Kong director Zorica King said. Workshop participants practised in pairs, taking turns playing the attacker with plastic knives or guns. They learnt tactics such as forcing the hand of someone holding a knife down between the seats while striking them on the head.
Instructor Israel Tamir, head of security for the International Krav Maga Federation, who teaches security combat in Israel, said: "The tactics are designed by analysing real-life attacks."
The system also involves mental training. King said: "People panic in violent situations. They learn to subdue the panic and react using natural body defences. Krav Maga is designed to make use of what your body offers you."