In Ancient Greek there is a term called Aristeia. This would be used to describe a dramatic scene in poetry that was warrior based; it would be the pinnacle of a hero’s battle, the epic zenith showing all their glory and prowess. It would be magical.
Sunday this white belt 4-eva watched an open mat session with several much more seasoned practitioners after having her face smashed into the floor and between someone’s knees several times. I was slightly euphoric, definitely sweaty (I prefer the term glowing, but am realistic that this is not the case for me), but Aristeia is what came to mind while holding up the wall too tired to adjust my gi. It was a beautiful battle to frontline view seeing several black belts roll and even more spellbinding that one of them was a woman.
My friend Chris Crosby owns Combat Athletics near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a BJJ black belt and Pro MMA fighter and whereas I haven’t checked out his gym (going to have to make plans now), I was able to meet up with him in Little Rock and follow him like a monkey with cymbals to check out an open mat session with West Side Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
A discussion (translation- me trash talking) had before class was about whether Chris was one of those jiu jitsu purists that spends a good chunk of his time obsessing and watching professional tournament rounds. Several months ago I was in a restaurant with the Knife Control Concepts class and one of the instructors Eli, was watching one on his phone. I feigned mild interest (pretty sure I was not convincing), but all I could think of is that it was like viewing fishing on TV. Chris however had a different take on its merits that had me reevaluating. He said he watched those verses individual reels of moves on IG because that was real time not just a video of a certain technique with minimal resistance. In the tournament is where you see if it actually works, and he felt he learned more observing that way. I couldn’t argue, I mean, I talked smack of course, but teaching jiu jitsu is literally his job so.....
When writing about training weekends I have noted several times that everyone’s force on force scenarios are ugly. I have videoed countless people with all sorts of backgrounds; military, LEO, special forces, just general bad asses, and when they do their drills there might be some technique, but it is still a giant scramble that is nothing like John Wick. Several are black/brown belts in some form of martial arts, mostly jiu jitsu and it’s still a wild, messy looking ride. In fact, sometimes it is more on the scale of the posh Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver restaurant fight. That is in Bridget Jones Diary for those punch-face people out there too good to watch a chick flick. Youtube it.
It is not going to look exactly like it was practiced. You can hammer technique, and you should, but in the end, what works in the scramble is what works in the scramble. I recently was rolling with a person who, let’s be realistic, likely gave me the submission, however I was so surprised it worked that when he tapped I hesitated to release because I didn’t understand that I had actually succeeded (okay it’s not that bad, but close). I was shooting for a bow and arrow; I am sure what I was doing was something more along the lines of the Nerf version… either way it got the choke.
As I sat married to the wall Sunday, chest dramatically heaving after two awesome rolls with a kid named Emmerson, I got to watch Torrid Gianstbane and several black belts roll and it was an education. I tried to observe from the viewpoint of what Chris had mentioned and was surprised that I hadn’t done this before with jiu jitsu, or even with my force-on-force videos of others. I learned a ton.
Betina Penedo makes BJJ look stunning, not only does she have a beautiful face and accent (she is Brazilian) she also manages to not look like a homeless troll after two hours of rolling. I am serious I was ridiculously jealous when I walked into the bathroom later and looked at my red, veins bulging, not glowy, just plain horse sweaty mug. But watching her maneuver was literally like art to me; I can say that since that was my major in college (obviously it paid off in life… *insert eye roll at myself here). She was smooth and constantly moving in all directions at once. She appeared levelheaded the entire time and always seemed to be calculating several steps forward. I am sure I looked like a Joe from “You” observing from the side. I viewed several of her rounds and was floored, literally because I physically couldn’t get up and figuratively because I was mesmerized. Then I watched several of the others and where I could have just been hallucinating on the endorphins, my brain was likening it to Aristeia.
Okay so in reality that’s not quite how it all played out… I came back home, started typing this up, called my brother and told him I needed a word for how it appeared magical when two beautiful people were fighting each other. I am assuming the nogi MMA fighter that rolled with Betina was her significant other (sorry, I didn’t get your name) and they will make pretty babies someday. I told my brother think Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and he gave me the word Aristeia and a Wikipedia link. So yeah…. #literaryscholar but hey, we all get an education here….
Arete is another Greek term that I ended up bunny trailing on, it means, “excellence” in a most foundational sense. I visit many gyms and do not write about all of them; I am a sweetheart by nature and am apparently incapable of writing negative things unless you are Larry Nassar, he gets negative stars; bars, he gets lots and lots of prison bars. Basically, what I am saying is that if I have attended your class/place and didn’t write about you, well there is your answer on my recommendation and word of mouth…. That being said, Arete is obviously rolling (pun totally intended) at Westside BJJ. To make sure I am not being deficient in why I write these up, I can say with the utmost confidence that they are a place I would recommend to any woman starting out on their martial arts journey. Everyone was welcoming and Betina had a smile immediately when we walked in. Emmerson was a sweetheart and every person I talked to was warm and engaging and that was just an open mat. So check them out if you are in the Little Rock area and looking.
In fighting there are no absolutes, but you can find better and more efficient ways to progress and up your odds. I eat crow and the trash I talk a lot, but I cherish it when concepts that lay separate in my head get pieced together by a person or one good instructor to create a stronger one; that is beauty. And when that concept is in the creation of finding better ways to learn, well then that’s my Aristeia.
#dothejiujitsu #wyattiamrolling #westsidebjj #aristeia #itsallgreektome #whitebelt4eva #knifecontrolconcepts #arete #betinayouneedayoutubechannel #selfdefense #drymop #combatathletics
In every class I have taught I use a demonstration of calling on a random gal to come up to the front. I stand about 10-15 feet away and then start walking towards her at an even pace. Speaking in a harsh tone about my neck hurting, I use blame language, something like, “Lady it was you who hit my f*%king car!” To date there has not been one woman who hasn’t froze. They stand there wondering what the hell is going on and blink at me immobile.
I am 5’6’’, usually wearing a brightly colored T-Shirt with a stupid saying, they are in my course to become safer, and yet they are rendered stock-still. Mostly due to bewilderment, some to language shock (see my article here on why this is very important), some a bit of confusion, but that’s exactly it, these are all normal responses to even if I was a 200-pound man, same phrasing, walking up to them in a parking lot. In the end they are rendered stunned, and that person is in their space set up perfectly for a surprise blow while she is still trying to come to grips what is even going on.
A recent study done by a Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden showed that over 70% of women experienced tonic immobility during a sexual assault. Tonic Immobility is the rigid, unmoving state in response to intense fear. Out of the 278 of those interviewed, 192 is an extremely high number to have experienced this. (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) Also please keep in mind this is the number reported, estimations go much, much higher.
Last week we had a woman walk into the gym who had been the victim of a recent assault. This snail-slick-scum-excuse-for-a-human had seemed harmless to her before, but this time had shown he knew her route and personal details of her life. For the sake of being my typical sweetheart self and not calling things out specifically I will leave off the name of the actual women’s self-defense course (only stating it is a popular one) and point out that she had attended three of their clinics prior to her incident, when burning-racoon-rot laid hands on her. She froze. She came into our gym angry and rightfully scared, looking for a more permanent solution so as not to be a victim again.
So, in the spirit of ruffle, ruffle, chicken tussle, I am going to lay it out here. With that high of percentage, with literally every female I have tested that example on becoming immobile, if your Women’s Self Defense Clinic does not put the most stress on overcoming freeze responses and managing encroachment of space, you are not doing any good, and just hindering valuable time. Most women are going to come in once for a three-hour slot at the most and that’s all you have. An emphasis of technique verses mentality is, to be quite honest, showing you have not done the research and are out of touch with actual real responses from the general public. If you have truly chosen your job to help make people safer please remove your ego and hear me out. You only have a specific amount of time; there can be no comparison of the ladies who will only take this tiny bit out of their life, to your ingrained daily fighter mentality. Of course the goal is to have the continuance of training, but that is likely not going to be the case and you have to teach the most imperative in the shortest amount of time. And guess what? The imperative is just getting them to move.
Our MMA fighters at the gym run the same constant drills over and over and over for punching and kicking… I believe I have even wrote an article about spending an entire class on just jabs…. These are hammered into their head like a high-production factory line manufacturing the world’s finest concussions. But when they get into the cage, it is all they can do to string just a couple combos together when under stress and adrenaline. Meaning there is no way a person can take a couple hour class and then possibly a year later pull off the four-point move that was taught when someone grabs their hair. No, they are getting their face slammed into a brick wall. They are going to be stunned, they will be thinking, “this is not happening,” they will be BELIEVING that, they will not understand the violence behind the act because they can barely get over the shock of the language used, they will not be looking around for person two, they won’t even be able to yell, and they will probably hesitate to hurt the person that is hurting and violating them because they weren’t the ones to wake up and choose violence.
One of the best courses I have taken and am retaking for a third time in April is ECQC (Extreme Close Quarters Concepts) with Craig Douglas. What makes him, in my opinion, a premium shelf instructor is the MUC (Managing Unknown Contacts) portion of all his workshops. He has fined tuned how to deal with potential threats, what to look for in an attacker, and how to keep them at a distance while constantly surveying surroundings. It is honestly a four-hour instructional that I think every person should take male and female. You can actually watch it on the Warrior Poets Society Network. I obviously am geared more towards the female side. Craigs class can be intimidating because, well, it’s about fighting with a pistol, but I base a good portion in my classes off what I have learned from him and his drills dealing with unknown possible threats.
Model Mugging, a 30-year-old women’s self-defense conglomerate, did a study of their course graduates, "Out of 1000 students threatened and actually assaulted, over 800 were able to prevent victimization by just their voice, boundary setting, and conflict resolution skills.”
You cannot teach technique if 70% aren’t even going to react. You must start with what is mentioned above and work into movement, not necessarily moves; then the actual mentality of survival, stressing that they HAVE to keep fighting, they cannot quit. In my opinion pummeling is important for teaching how to flow constantly. It doesn’t have to be a militant version but is a good foundation, easy to do quick reps, and can be pressed into the brain as a segue for being a hard victim to keep a hold of.
There is nothing natural about fighting. I heard someone once say in a course (likely Craig), “You know what is natural? Drowning. You have to learn how to swim.” What is natural is a freeze response to an average person untrained. Their brain is just trying to play catch up to someone that has already chosen assault making the other possible flight response obsolete.
Geoff Thompson’s book, Dead or Alive, speaks of studies that have shown just mastering the prefight is 80% more effective at deterring a predator. He goes on to say, “the people we are talking about, those in society that attack for fun or for profit do not give a monkey’s f*&k about what is right or wrong. They have no morals and would take great pleasure in raping a girl. They have already decided to break the law and are on the very dark side of wrong.”
The tagline for Healthy Buffalo is, “Know when the fight starts.” Understanding that the beginning of a fight is not the physical, but the mental aspect is key and will give a possible victim even more precious seconds to use their body to act. Knowing what to look for, being alert, and possibly being able to stop the encroachment of a threat with a clear assertive voice can help overcome the freeze responses giving one ample time to think.
We can teach management of surroundings, but we must include the management of strangers around us, avoidance tactics, HOW to speak if necessary, and what to look for in predatory cues so that if the time arises when under-the-table-gum-goo goes for a grab, the reaction is indignant and swift and all movement.
#healthybuffalo #womensselfdefense #egocheck #knowwhenthefightstarts #wemustdobetterforthem #research #noyoucantjustrunaway
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal