At Ryan Hoover’s Multiple Attacker Seminar a few months back, he stressed a point that will forever be stuck on my brain like Gorilla Glue in hair. He was working through techniques from guard (the top person in a rape position; sorry but there really is no easier way to explain it)… when he paused and asked if anyone could think of a reason why someone would just sit on the person and wait. We were an evenly split coed class and the fifteen seconds of silence as he waited us out to answer his question were quieter than Deante Wilders corner earlier this week. It was disturbing because I think that most of the women in the room had a small inkling of what he was getting at, but the men were drawing blanks. He seemed even irritated when he started to explain by saying, “Lets change the setting a bit, imagine I was behind some dark bushes somewhere…” lightbulbs went off everywhere.
Occasionally to stress a point in a new class I will bring up a volunteer and just lay sideways on them asking them to get me off. I sort of dead weight and just maintain balance, not fighting back but just moving occasionally to distribute. I have had some strong women in class who have managed to at least get a good shove in, but no one to date has been able to completely get me off them. (It is only natural that the next time I do this, I am going to get wrecked) I then point out I am approximately 125 pounds, and I am not using force. Now picture yourself with a man around 175-200 pounds. It is a tragically eye-opening thing to see or feel when you realize that a person could literally just smash you into the dirt, wait you out until your adrenaline has drained, and you flat out do not have the energy to move anymore. After that? Whatever sadistic stuff they have planned. And according to statistics, this isn’t even putting into account the high percentage of how many women freeze.
The first thing I usually try to hammer home anytime I teach a women’s a self-defense course is that I consider it a win for me if my class is a catalyst to one woman. I want the course to be a jumping off point for women, the start of their self defense journey. I get them for maybe seven total hours and that doesn’t even begin to hit the tip of the iceberg. My class is not the titanic, it’s more like a paper boat in comparison. I have attempted to pick out, based off training and research, what is the most imperative for them to learn in the most efficient and quickest way possible. My goal is for them to walk out safer than what they came in, however it is not going to be enough.
More often than not there seems to be a mentality that once women have taken a self-defense course they will stroll out of there being able to whoop a mans a$$. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, in fact what usually happens is that they go home with a bit of a pep in their step, the men in their life mildly want to exude a bit of funny dominance, and the things that were gone over in a short amount of time with little reps suddenly don’t work. They end up frustrated and write the whole thing off.
This is where I am going to ruffle some feathers if I haven’t already done so. The above paragraph is why I cringe when I hear of a 14-year-old girl who weighs 80 pounds at the most getting her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Sure, she can land a pretty kick, spar a bit on the upright, but none of that has likely been pressure tested against a larger opponent who solely wants to hurt her. The best-case scenario for her in an attack, in the likely event she ends up on the ground, is that she gets injured, but away. What happens is this sense of, “Of course I can defend myself; I mean, they gave me a black belt…” and sure that confidence can deter causing a predator to deselect…. possibly, but in an actual physical assault? The odds are not remotely in her favor. When I start demonstrating in class on the aspects of a stranger walking speedily towards a person with the intent to harm, I haven’t had one student who does not freeze, and that is including those with martial arts backgrounds.
Gonna spice up my life a bit now by throwing out some facts, some opinions, some opinionated facts, and some facts I would like to be opinions, and if that isn’t confusing enough, I am going to talk on the merits of jiu jitsu/grappling as an avid former hater. And by spice, I mean I am going to open up the floodgates to the masses on the internet to skewer me with their facts, opinions, opinionated facts, and facts THEY would like to be opinions.
Two years ago I was teaching karate. I had just received my second-degree black belt and could not have been further away from the jiu jitsu spectrum. There was zero grappling where I was and though I had a few of the general rape position questions, it was usually brushed off under the context of, “You will never be in that position to begin with.” In a fun twist of ironic facts I now am in guard with several different people, some men, some women, a lot of strangers, several times a week.
The thing is that the statement of, “You will never be there in the first place,” is ludicrous. First, that’s an absolute, and like most things in life, there are NO absolutes. Especially in fighting, anything can happen. It may have nothing to do with you managing a bad buy, but all the other different deluging variables you need to manage in that moment. And that isn’t even a small fraction; these what ifs are a huge percentage. What’s in your hands? What is the setting? Are there other people around to help? Is there a curb? Are you between cars? Is there furniture? Hell, I had a friend point out how she changed certain parts of her self-defense program because of a scenario she was in during a shoot house drill. Her scene was waking up with a bad guy who pounced on her while she was sleeping in her bed. She said that none of what she knew in jiu jitsu at that moment was going to get 200-pound guy off her with the give of a mattress. These are important variables that need to be addressed and you cannot do it in a seven-hour course, and you certainly cannot do it if your whole system is based on the fact that you won’t go to the ground.
No, I don’t want to be on my back where there is glass and asphalt and gravel and trash, but that is not a far-off reality in the grand scheme of a fight. I have never seen one outside of a kid’s school yard tussle where two people just stood there at their four-foot distance trading blows. What is pretty factual is how fast a person can seal in ten feet of space. It’s shocking. A person who is larger wants their advantage, they want you helpless on the ground, they will nab that clinch, and if it’s not an ambush from behind it’s a quick-shot in to take you there. You aren’t standing there trying to land a head kick that will be glancing at best, it’s too fast.
So what am I saying? Just do jiu jitsu? No, but I will say it’s a more pertinent one for the smaller person and rolling is probably the best thing out there in terms of overcoming a freeze response which is a very high factor for women. When you are rolling you are reacting to a person’s movement and that is incredibly valuable in self-defense. You are gaining an in-depth understanding of force on force, sometimes with strangers of all different shapes and sizes. You are learning immediate action in a slightly stressful, but safe atmosphere when a person is on top of you.
Again please understand I am talking specifically about self-defense, not sport. You want to do taekwondo for sport, go for it, honestly any martial arts for sport, have at it. But do not let the claim be that’s all you need for self-defense. My claim is if you are looking to be safer faster, I repeat, if you are looking to be safer faster… after taking a women’s self-defense course, I am going to say managing your surroundings is the most important, and then jiu jitsu, and then striking. Keep in mind this is coming from former stand up traditional martial artist and it is strictly my opinion.
Another thing to note, if you are in a martial art or place that discourages cross training claiming their art is the only thing you need to know, skedaddle. Flee like you would the bad guy I am teaching you to run from. Knowledge is power, test it, test what you are learning, test them, be fair, and throw out what doesn’t work. Any place that is so insecure you are not allowed to go elsewhere to train will not stack up, there is no one size fits all answer.
It is nothing for a person stronger than me to basically bicep curl my person and chuck me on the ground. So why would I not want to put more emphasis on the last line of defense? Percentage wise and based off of the many scenarios I have videoed and seen, that’s where the fight goes and it goes there fast. Bada bing, bada boom, ground. Of course I don’t want to be there, I want to pay attention and avoid it at all costs but when it comes to the physicality of self-defense, well there you have it, I said what I said.
So at the end of the day I am not teaching you to kick a mans a$$ in my class. I am giving you a jumping off point and the maximum amount of information in the most efficient way I can, in the time constraint given, knowing that 98% will not continue this journey. I am teaching you to avoid, be deselected, if needed to get away, and if you end up kicking a$$ while fleeing, well then freaking awesome, stomp the throat.
“My job is to make her safer and her safer, not saying it’s not my job to make him safer, but that’s easier.” -Ryan Hoover-
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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