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10-01 2021

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She felt overpowered that day on a public road. Only a teen, she had not faced such a situation before in her life. She felt controlled by someone else’s hands, eyes, and narrative. Seema Rao decided that day that she will never feel overpowered in front of a man.

Rao is academically a doctor. She could have pursued it as a profession. Lived her life in the comfort of financial and social stability. But her character did not wish that. She had set a goal for herself and strove hard for it.

Rao started training in martial arts and combat. A way to grasp control of her own body, her emotions, and her mind. She broke practically every bone in her body. While training, she once fell from a height of 50ft and suffered vertebral fracture. While engaged in a training fight, she lost control and fell on her head. It resulted in loss of memory for months. Her body and mind sustained every blow. It made her stronger and braver.

Through fortitude and dedication, she became one of the few women instructors of Bruce Lee’s art called Jeet Kune Do. Rao became the first and only female commando trainer in India, defying tradition. She went on to train over 20,000 soldiers of Indian armed forces, paramilitary forces, and cops. She even defied Mrs. India’s competition expectations by flaunting her well-toned biceps during the ramp walk.

Her journey involved sacrifices. She trained military personnel without compensation. For her, money was not the goal. Performing silently without the glitz was not special for her. Rao knew that her path would not be a bed of roses but of thorns. She gave up motherhood too. Rao avoided having children for a long time because of the commitment it requires. She did not wish to swerve from her fight.

She did not stop at mastering the art of close-quarter combat. For a soldier, his/her body is not the only tool. A gun is practically a soldier’s first ally. Rao, with her husband, developed a special shooting method that was found useful by various Indian forces.

The sexual harassment incident had made her feel powerless. A similar incident would make her feel powerful again. While training at the Mumbai Chowpatty one morning, Rao got involved in a scuffle with some ruffians. This time, she did not tither. Her training helped her swiftly tackle and disarm the target. On that morning, Seema Rao felt that she had moved from being controlled to being in control.

Over the years, she has helped thousands to find power and take control of their narrative. Silently, without making any noise.