I’ve been increasingly frustrated by the growing amounts of violence against women. Maybe I’ve just heard more stories recently or maybe more women have had the courage to report their attacks, but it seems more and more random attacks are popping up. I’ve heard one about a man who beat a woman horribly and raped her and then laughed and told her he had just given her HIV, while another woman was beaten on a subway platform and thrown on the tracks so her attacker could steal her phone. Luckily, she was able to get off the tracks before the train came and her attacker was caught later with her phone, but it seems like a woman can’t go anywhere without being worried about being attacked or raped. Women are told not to go anywhere after dark by themselves, don’t wear clothing that are too revealing, watch their drink while they’re out so no one slips anything into it, don’t get drunk at all because that makes them more vulnerable, and basically don’t put themselves into situations where they could be raped. I don’t know what they would have told the 80-year-old grandma that got raped by an intruder while she was asleep in her own bed. As a woman and the mother of a daughter the idea that we have to prevent ourselves from getting raped, like it’s the victim’s fault, really ticks me off. Telling women to avoid those situations hasn’t seemed to help the problem so far. It gives men the idea that they’re nothing more than wild animals that are not responsible for their hormonal urges, which as the mother of a son also ticks me off. I believe that teaching respect of each other is crucial for these attacks to slowly decrease, but things like respect and honor don’t seem to be taking hold today. Everyone seems to be out to get the best for themselves, forget about how that might affect everyone else.
Until the concepts of respect and honor take hold in our society, I do believe that women should know how to defend themselves and I’ve always admired the martial arts. Of course, there are always the guys that give martial arts a bad name, but I think the same thing could be said of any sport. True martial arts is about teaching self-discipline, respect, honor, and courage.
There are a growing number of training centers that give weekly classes specifically for women as well as those with an occasional evening or Saturday clinic. However, you want to make sure that the place you go has an actual respect for women. I once read an article about a woman who went to a women’s self-defense seminar. The women were crouched or kneeling on the mat around the instructor at the beginning and he started the session by saying that that’s how he liked his women, on their knees. Even if he was trying to crack a joke, that is completely inappropriate, especially for a group of women. If you go to a session and the instructor is like that, then you need to run, not walk, out of the room. Get a refund and don’t look back. There’s a high probability that if the gym or training center is not doing a good job of teaching respect for slightly more than half the population then they’re not doing a good job of teaching true respect for the other half either.
Having gone to the military academy and then being in the Army, I was exposed to several different types of self-defense. Army combatives are based on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so my husband has always been fond of that form of martial art. It’s also great for women because it teaches you to use your opponents body weight against them. I know that a lot of people prefer other forms of martial arts because jiu-jitsu moves are done primarily on the ground and ideally you wouldn’t get pushed to the ground in an attack, but that’s not realistic. When you watch the choreographed fights in the movies and guys lose their balance or trip over something, their opponent gives them a few seconds to get back up before continuing the fight. That’s not gonna happen in real life. No, in real life you may be in an alley or in a small room with lots of stuff to trip on. Even well-trained fighters don’t land 100% of their punches or kicks the way they want them to and they occasionally lose their balance, even fall down. Real attackers are going to pounce the first time you go down and you have to know how to fight from the ground in order to get back up and get away.
When Charley and I decided a few years ago that we were going to do jiu-jitsu for “Date Night” a couple of nights a week it was important for us to find a place that was not only good, but also was not just a bunch of hot-heads trying to teach people to bust heads with no control or respect. Texas Punishment Crew caught our attention because of the name (if you want to get really good training you don’t want a place that’s called Pink Fluffy Kitten Crew) so we looked more into them and tried them out. We found them to be very professional as well as very good trainers in jiu-jitsu, self-defense, and MMA. The instructors were great, but so were most of the people that trained there. Most of them were more experienced than me and they would help me learn how to correctly perform a move not only while we were drilling, but also while we were sparring. They really took the time to make sure that I understood it. I particularly enjoyed the lunch-time sessions because that was more of the older working professionals on their lunch break as opposed to the evening classes with the younger crowd, but they were both great.
Not only did I enjoy the self-defense aspect of the training, but I also enjoyed the physical fitness aspect as well. Learning the self-defense moves was very challenging. Continuing to drill them in practice improved my strength, hand-eye coordination, and flexibility in a way that my regular workouts did not. Once I went to 15 of the beginner classes I could start sparring. I work out pretty hard, but the challenge of sparring for five minutes with some of the more experienced fighters there really kicked my butt. Trying to remember how to correctly execute offensive moves while simultaneously defending yourself from the moves of your opponent is both physically and mentally exhausting.
I remember one time when I was sparring, I was having a hard time. I felt like I was running out of steam about 1 minute into the five-minute session and I was going through the movements very spastically. The lead instructor at TPC, Jason Ebarb, pulled me aside while I was taking a break and told me that I had to slow down. It was at a time when I was busy with work, getting ready for my first competition, kids’ activities, and had a lot of things on my mind. I literally could not wrap my head around what he meant by “slow down.” I thought it was some move he had taught that I could not remember. He went on to say that it’s more important for women to take their time when learning the moves and sparring than for men. When men get into a fight it’s more than likely at a bar with a guy that got too loud or grabby with their girlfriends. They only have to fight for about 30-60 seconds before the bouncer jumps in and stops them. When a woman gets into a fight it’s more than likely in a place where no one is going to come and help her. She has to be able to keep her wits and either subdue her opponent or keep him at bay until he tires first so she can get away. That really struck a chord with me.
I really believe that all women should find some sort of self-defense or martial art that they enjoy. Yes, you may find yourself in funny positions, but when you’re really trying to spar, you’re not thinking about that. You may get a knee or elbow to the boob, and you may accidentally give your opponent a knee or elbow to the groin. It happens. What’s most important is that you will get a sense of self-confidence that will change the way you carry yourself. An attacker is not going to attack a woman who walks with the confidence of someone who can choke him out, break one of his arms, dislocate his shoulder, or make future procreation a challenge. Well, I guess if he does he’ll only do it once because he won’t want to make that mistake again.
I know that Charley and I want to put Devin and eventually Wyatt into jiu-jitsu too, but we also want to keep extra-curricular activities to a manageable level so neither school work nor family time suffers. I also want to go back to it at some time, but unfortunately a trainer’s major busy hours are also the major jiu-jitsu training hours. If you want to try something new that will help not only your physical fitness but your mental quickness, coordination, and self-confidence, I definitely recommend that you try jiu-jitsu. If you’re in the Beaumont area, definitely give the Texas Punishment Crew a try.
I’ll leave you with this note as to how to really prevent rape:
How to Prevent Rape
If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done x.
Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.
And if you are still confused, try this:
How to Prevent Sexual Assault
1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry rooms to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.
Questions? Comments? Please let me know.