I love jiu-jitsu and believe that anyone would benefit from learning it. However, I am not the world’s loudest BJJ evangelist. If I meet someone who I specifically think would like it, I’ll suggest it, but I’m not going around preaching the gospel of BJJ to everyone.
This week is going to be the exception. With the “Me Too” meme going around, it’s been an intense few days on social media. Inspired and emboldened by the badass women I know on Facebook who shared their stories of sexual assault, I shared my own this morning. Even though it took place a long time ago — in 1999 — writing about it was HARD.
Here’s what was most striking about it for me, though. When I look back, I can see the places where BJJ would have helped me. I know exactly where I would have framed my arms to keep him from first making contact. I know when I could have hooked his leg with my foot and swept him. I know the moment where I could have triangle choked him to sleep and ran. I had a lot of options in 1999; I just didn’t know them yet.
Jiu-Jitsu As Womens’ Self-Defense
Searching for good footage of women using BJJ for self-defense, I came across this gem (linked below), created by Rener and Eve Gracie in 2015. It’s a breakdown of how a woman who was assaulted used BJJ to protect herself. They also give some general ideas about how BJJ is particularly useful for women in sexual assault situations. I’ll warn you that it’s a little over the top (overstatements about how BJJ is the ONLY way for women to protect themselves; it’s ad-like at times) but many of the ideas really resonated with me.
I was particularly struck by their comparison of BJJ with other leading methods for womens’ self-defense. Back in 1999, I used the “self-defense” I had learned in high school. You know, the kind that hinges on kicking a guy in the nuts as hard as you can. I’ll never forget the way my assailant laughed at me. He was so used to getting kicked in the nuts that it didn’t even faze him! Since the nut kick was pretty central to my strategy, I had no back-up plan. While I see the appeal of teaching something so simple (vs. something that takes many years to become proficient at), anything that depends on a person’s pain tolerance is going to have vulnerabilities. I spent a year studying that school of “self-defense” and it did me no favors in the end.
I found the video cathartic to watch, as well as informative. I didn’t get into BJJ for self-defense purposes (at least not consciously), but in this type of scenario, I think the applications are clear. Maybe some of you will enjoy it, too.