Synonymous with any martial art comes the notion of self-defense. Protection. Confidence.
First and foremost, Jiu-Jitsu has taught me that violence is unnecessary in the face of adversary and that confidence to deal with a situation by avoiding it altogether is a feat worth accomplishing, a trait worth having, a lesson worth learning. Thankfully, I have Jiu-Jitsu to teach me this essential lesson instead of learning the hard way.
But what happens when it isn’t a confrontation easily contained? Sometimes our physical defense mechanisms learned on the mat will surely come in handy, but for those involved with a massive shooting, a sudden attacker, an armed robber, it’s the preparedness and confidence that will ultimately bring you to safety. Without the mental preparation, the techniques and positions you learn may lose their opportunity to surface.
Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense system. We see it highlighted in every school as their basic and/or women’s programs. We know that effective Jiu-Jitsu allows the smaller and weaker person to overcome a stronger, bigger opponent by using leverage. The most basic and foundational moves we all learn when we begin Jiu-Jitsu serve as a stepping stone to whichever route you choose whether it be recreational or sport, but it’s these monumental hours in the beginning of your journey that set you up for such valuable lessons that will carry over to your life. You may not even realize them until you’re faced with an opportunity.
In light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are focusing on the aspect of self-defense more than ever. Whether or not jiu-jitsu is a reliable self-defense mechanism in these circumstances– weapons versus none — is a hot topic. Do the foundational techniques, positions and movements of our art qualify as a justified means to defend oneself in the event of a shooting? Yes– but not in the way you might initially think.
The psychological benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu offer much to any practitioner– young or old, male or female. The mats of a jiu-jitsu academy set the scene for triumphs, goals and confidence. We build ourselves up only to reap consequences found in higher grades in school, less anxiety and stress, lighter weight around our waist and an heir that no one can touch. Ultimately, it is the psychological self defense that gives Jiu-Jitsu practitioners a priceless sense of protection.
In an unfortunate event on that devastating day there were moments that seemed to bring a light through what feels like unrelenting darkness. Many teachers and staff members sacrificed themselves for others. It was the quick wit of Victoria Soto who hid her students in cabinets and cupboards just minutes before the shooter entered the room and took her life. It was the devotion of Anne Marie Murphy who, as a last ditch effort, attempted to shield her students with her own body. Without the confidence, courage, commitment and conviction of those present at the scene, we may have seen worse.
What Jiu-Jitsu can offer may not be tangible at first. You won’t realize what drilling, live rolling and specific training are doing to your nervous system, your emotional being and your mental capacity. They’re not just moves, they’re not just techniques. Jiu-Jitsu begins a never-ending evolution of your senses to react quickly, recognize danger, have confidence in your actions and automatically choose fight over flight, despite what any other mental flags your brain may wave.
It is up to oneself to take responsibility for themselves and others in the event of any dangerous situation no matter the perpetrator. As we have seen the Jiu-Jitsu community come together before, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting brings more opportunities onto the map.
In Long Beach, CA, Jiu-Jitsu black belt and author of best-selling Jiu-Jitsu books, Kevin Howell is offering free self-defense classes for teachers. If you are within the LA area and you or someone you know is a teacher, consider attending the classes at Kevin’s academy. The information is priceless and will be a gateway to a new kind of learning.
An MMA seminar held not far from the shooting will be held on Sunday, December 23 at 10am in Danbury, CT at American Top Team. UFC fighter Glover Texeira will be teaching techniques for $20 that will provide donations to the victim’s families.
No matter what happens, Jiu-Jitsu will always serve as an outlet and endless education for anyone. Keep training, keep looking out for one another and focus on what is good in life despite what setbacks you may encounter.
For more information about self-defense and Jiu-Jitsu academies in your area, check the GMA directory here: https://www.graciemag.com/gma-list/