I can’t recall how many times I’ve told this story, but it’s a lot. It’s one of those things I am so passionate about and I feel like the issue is a no brainer but you’d be surprised how hesitant women are when I bring it up. So here it is: if you are a woman, you should be training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Before I go on, let me back up because there’s a good chance you’re not familiar with this martial art. Most people who first hear about it usually ask, “is that like Karate?” …No, but thanks for asking. I don’t blame you, we have to thank Ralph Macchio and the Karate Kid movies for convincing the general public that this is the only martial art that exists. Just kidding. Here we go though, and I quote my from our gym’s website:
“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting- incorporating a system of joint locks, choke holds, sweeps, and positional dominance in order to control an opponent and force him or her to submit. Although the sport has been popular in Brazil for many years, it gained worldwide attention in the mid 90s through the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments. During these Mixed Martial Arts contests, practitioner Royce Gracie proved the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by convincingly defeating several formidable opponents with BJJ techniques.One of the unique features of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the “guard” position, which allows a BJJ player to fight and win from his or her back. By using leverage and proper technique, it is possible for a BJJ player to control and defeat a larger and stronger opponent. Because of this, BJJ is one of the most functional martial arts systems – great for learning self-defense, improving confidence, increasing fitness, and generally improving one’s lifestyle.”
So to move on to that story I’ve told probably a few hundred times: I started Jiu Jitsu in November of 2005. I was going to Cal State University San Marcos at the time, and there was a particular week where there were 2 rape incidents: 1 at CSUSM and 1 at San Diego State University. Needless to say, I was a little freaked out. This can happen to anyone, and still happens daily. It’s a huge problem that will unfortunately never go away. I knew I had to do something but didn’t know what. A very good friend of mine at the time was into Kung Fu so I asked him if I should start that. While it’s a great martial art, he said if my goal was rape defense, Jiu Jitsu would be perfect for me. I had no idea what it was either so I did my research and signed up for my first class at the Roy Harris Academy.
I’m going to be honest, I was scared. I’ve always wanted to try martial arts and coincidentally enough my brother was a wrestler and that was always something I wanted to do in high school as well. If you or someone you know wrestles – it’s GREAT for transitioning to Jiu Jitsu! Back to the story though, I hesitantly tried my first class but everyone was so welcoming. I was still a bit fearful for a few reasons:
1) I was a female – back at that time females were very rare in Jiu Jitsu
2) I was small – I am 5 feet tall and was about 120 at the time and the average sized training partner there was 155 pounds.
3) I had NO idea what I was doing! Who likes being the new student in class? No one! It’s so intimidating!
I remember sitting in my car the second day of class and not wanting to go in. I was probably about 15 minutes early and I just sat there. I wanted to train and learn all these things to protect myself but how I wished I had a friend I knew to start with me. God must have been laughing at me sitting all scared in the car because what happens next pretty much is the one of the best things that happened to me. I walked in and only noticed 1 other person from the previous class and was introduced to the instructor of the day, Jeff. Jeff then proceeded to partner one of his “experienced Purple Belts” with the “New Girl” aka me. That Purple Belt’s name was Mike Cusi and almost 9 years later, here we are married with 3 kids and 3 gyms. Life is really funny, isn’t it?
Jiu Jitsu is an art that is great for rape defense because more often than not, you will be probably be taken to the ground, you’ll be smaller than your attacker, and there’s a great chance that attacker will move right between your legs. I hate to paint this picture but this is just the sad truth. A can of pepper spray won’t help you here. Your goal then and there is to just escape and run for safety. Jiu Jitsu will teach you to defend yourself in all of these situations. Will it GUARANTEE your safety? I can’t say yes, but it gives you an upper hand in any compromising situation you may be put in.
Jiu Jitsu is great for younger girls as well, and there’s no better time to get them started. The earlier they learn these techniques, the more it will be second nature to them (kids are just human sponges!) You hear about child abductions, attacks and human trafficking daily and you can have some piece of mind equipping them with some tools to escape if necessary. My daughter started when she was 2. Even if she doesn’t want to do it long-term, I want her to at least know basics to protect herself if needed. She can switch back to Dance class the next day (which she does as you can see in the 2nd photo).
I know how difficult it is to get women to start training, I’ve been there. I finally convinced my baby cousin to start this year and I’ve been trying to get her on the mats since I first started! My hope is that if you have been wanting to start Jiu Jitsu and have been on the fence, that you will take a leap of faith and just do it. Jiu Jitsu can save your life. If I STILL haven’t convinced you, I hope you would consider enrolling yourselves in a Women’s Self-Defense class. While you’ll probably learn a few Jiu-Jitsu related escape techniques here or there, you’ll also gain tips on general awareness and targeting your attacker in certain areas (think eye gouging and blows to the crotch). If you’re ready to start, feel free to contact me and I’ll point you to a good school if you aren’t near San Diego and one of my Jiu Jitsu Schools. If you’re still not comfortable yet, we also have 2 low-cost Women’s Self-Defense classes (February 13 in Point Loma and February 20 in Eastlake) that I highly encourage you to attend, and more info can be found here: Women’s Self-Defense Classes at The Stronghold If you can’t make these dates, there’s also some great classes such as PlayItSafe with Tracie Arlington. Be sure to tell her StrongholdMom had sent you!
Last but not least, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a giveaway, and I hope you all tell your friends about this one! From now until midnight, Monday, February 17, you have a chance to win (2) 1-Month Jiu Jitsu Memberships valid at all 3 of our locations (Point Loma, Eastlake and Rancho Bernardo). You also receive 2 complimentary spots to one of our Women’s Self-Defense Classes coming up on February 13 or 20. There’s a few guidelines, so here they are:
1) Winners must be female (because I am encouraging women and girls to try Jiu Jitsu, of course!)
2) One membership is for 1 Adult, one membership is for 1 Child – this can be Mother/Daughter, Aunt/Niece, etc.
3) Winner must not be a current Stronghold Member
4) Cannot be combined with any other current Stronghold Special
5) Uniform not included