In case you’re reading from outside of the United States, it’s been a…um…let’s say challenging week in the USA as laws which have long protected the body autonomy of American females were challenged in multiple conservative states, including Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Laws surrounding body autonomy and choice always bring issues including rape and incest into the forefront of public dialogue in the States, subjects which understandably trigger women and men alike, and remind anyone with a brain how messed up the world they live in actually is. The result of such heated, uterus-focused conversation has felt like a 7-day emotional endurance training exercise–TV, radio, and social media are overflowing with raw emotion, anger, arguments about separation of church and state (the funnest of water cooler conversations), and PTSD on both sides of the debate.
New Orleans gym owner, pro MMA fighter, and brown belt Ray Lopez–you may remember him as that guy who rolled for 24-hours straight to raise money for his sick wife–saw the toll the public war has been taking on women in his community, and decided to help his Louisiana sisters process the frustration by opening doors free of charge to women for the last week of May:
“As jiu-jitsu instructors we are always talking about how our martial can empower women, make them feel safe and give them the confidence to handle themselves if they are ever attacked,” Lopez told Jiu-Jitsu Times. “Well, right now most of the women I know are feeling incredibly attacked, especially here in the South. I thought why not remove the financial burden for at least a week and give these ladies a safe place to burn off that rage and hurt they are so deeply feeling?”
Lopez’s school, NOLA Mixed Martial Arts, is home to gi, no-gi, combat BJJ, wrestling, capoeira, and muay thai training. The school frequently works to make jiu-jitsu inviting and accessible to women, has previously offered free training events to mothers, sexual assault survivors, and members of the LGBTQ community.
“Jiu-jitsu has helped me deal with a lot of my own issues and traumas, and I’ve personally seen it do the same for so many others. If we can help anyone else achieve that we should do what we can to make that happen,” explains Lopez.
New Orleans area residents, or women visiting the area, looking to take advantage of this free training can do so by clicking here.