The flyers for Savyron Karate, based in Ängelholm in southern Sweden, name eight high-profile murder victims, including teenager Lisa Holm, who was found dead last summer following one of the biggest public searches for a missing person in Swedish history.
It goes on to state that if they “and 150 other women who have been murdered in the 2000s had really trained in self-defence, they probably would have made it”.
After several regional Swedish newspapers drew attention to the unlikely public relations campaign, Leif Almö, the chair of the region's karate association, Skånes Karateförbund, described the stunt as “completely insane” and said that the club would be fully vetted before being allowed to start any classes.
“I was very surprised in a negative way, as I have been involved in karate and self-defence for 45 years and I have never seen any club trying to promote themselves this way,” he told The Local.
“Using some dead women's names in advertising is as low as you can go (…) Karate can be a form of self-defence but even if the women knew it, there are no guarantees anyone would have survived, of course.”
— Helsingborgs Dagblad (@hdhbg) January 12, 2016
A tweet by a local newspaper, displaying the flyers.
The Local has been unable to reach the club's founder, Eric Andersson, however he told the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper that he wished to “apologize unreservedly” and had merely sought to highlight the problem of assaults and to help women.
He suggested that the club would offer free self-defence training “as compensation”.
However Almö told The Local that it was not yet certain whether Savyron Karate would be granted membership of the region's karate association, which is necessary for all clubs wishing to teach formal classes that lead students through the sport's different belt levels.
“He has informed the papers that everything has been taken down today and he is changing his marketing (…) But we will need to discuss this in the region,” he explained.
The chair added that Andersson's background was also being questioned, since he claimed to have been teaching karate since the 1960s but had not yet obtained a black belt himself.
“That's a little surprising, don't you think?” Almö told The Local.