New London Gym Offers Self-Defense Training Amid Surge in Antisemitic Attacks in UK

A still image from a promotional video for the Warehouse, in the Hendon neighborhood of London, England.

March 1, 2022

A new gym opening this month in northwest London aims to teach Jews and others self-defense skills amid a rise in antisemitic attacks across the United Kingdom, the Daily Express reported.

The Warehouse in Hendon was founded by 25-year-old real estate surveyor Marco Laurence, in partnership with a local Jewish charity, Chazak.

After two years abroad, first studying in Israel and then competing as a kickboxer in Thailand, “I came back to London in May of 2021 and all of a sudden I saw in the Jewish community people were scared walking around, people were getting attacked,” Laurence recalled.

“The amount of physical antisemitic attacks in the period of June to December 2021 was an increase of 490 percent from the year before,” he noted. “That was having an impact on people’s physical health, but also their emotional and mental health. People were afraid to have any signs of Judaism.”

Laurence himself was spat on and called a “dirty Jew.”

“I decided that something ought to be done,” he said. “We built the Warehouse which is to fundamentally help the community because it is open to everyone, not just Jews, but it is focusing on antisemitism.”

An all-time high record of 2,255 antisemitic incidents were reported in the United Kingdom in 2021, a 34% rise from 2020, according to the London-based Community Security Trust.

This included 176 acts of antisemitic violence, a 76% increase from the previous year.

A significant spike occurred during the flare-up of Israel-Gaza violence last spring, with antisemitic incidents in May and June alone accounting for 39% of the yearly total.