Before I talk about my thoughts on our women’s course I want to give a HUGE thanks to Jeremy Post and Staci Stefan for their help with the course. Both of their rolls in course were priceless. The only reason this class had the success it did was because of the help from those two people. You are both amazing and it would not have happened without you.
We have just wrapped up our 5 week women’s self-defense course. It was an amazing experience that I know everyone learned a lot from including myself. The majority of the women in the class have never done Gracie Jiu Jitsu before. It was a new experience for myself to take a large group of people that know absolutely nothing about Jiu Jitsu and teach them how to protect themselves. When I am teaching a normal Jiu Jitsu class there is a base level of assumed knowledge that everyone has. Based on that level you can teach the ideas you want to get across without having to explain every detail. For example, if I were to teach a choke from the guard I would not have to teach the concept of what a guard is. Most everyone in the class would already understand the basic ideas of the guard. In a sense, they would be adding more information to a folder in their brain that already exists. If there was someone new in that Jiu Jitsu class, it would be easy to address their lack of knowledge with a little one on one communication and a good drilling partner. The women’s self-defense course was unique in the sense that everyone was walking into it blind. We were given the opportunity to start from the ground up to help these women understand the basics of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and self defense.
In The Beginning
The first couple days we started out slow with simple things that most people could relate to. People naturally understand someone throwing a punch at them. No one enjoys getting hit so naturally people know they need to defend the punch somehow. So, we gave them a safe route to gain control of the person punching and put them on the ground. We also focused a lot on grip breaks, choke escapes, and keeping someone from grabbing your body. Partners would pair up to practice together and go over the situation we just showed them. While they did that, it was time for the coaches to do around and help and perform the attack on everyone. They quickly noticed the difference between how we were grabbing them verses how their partners were. We were more aggressive, tighter, and gave it a more realistic feel. This began the processes of building their confidence with the techniques and making them believe in what they were being shown.
As Time Went On
During the second half of the course we spent a little more time on the ground. I will remember the look on their faces when explaining the mount position. I could see the thoughts running through their heads about the close proximity that they and another stranger would have to go through together. When you train Jiu Jitsu for long enough you tend to forget about personal space while training. It becomes normal to have your chest pressed on someone’s head to have someone trying to smother you. So, for the women getting on top of someone in the mount position was a very foreign concept. It was even more uncomfortable when they were the ones on bottom. However, after a short period of time they quickly became familiar with the position and had no problem jumping onto their new friends. The classes continued and we watched their reflexes begin to develop as the questions of “what do I do?” was leaving their heads and being filled with a definitive answer.
The Final Day
The last day was my favorite class by far. My hopes for this course all came down to the final class and how the test went. I had deliberately left out any foreshadowing of the final test so it would be a complete surprise. They had no idea that they would be expected to remember everything and perform it under pressure. My vision was to ramp up the pace and give them a realistic feel to being attacked. They would each go through what they had learned and feel how effective Gracie Jiu Jitsu can be against a strong opponent. At the same time, they got to watch all the other women go through the same processes and see everyone had developed the same skill they had. The women were cheering each other on with a loving and encouraging support. It seemed like the more I got choked or beat up while attacking them the louder the girls were with their excitement. In the end, I could feel the level of confidence rising higher with everyone. Gracie Jiu Jitsu San Marcos and Gracie Jiu Jitsu Carlsbad have provided these women with a basic understanding of how to protect themselves and have shown them the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and I want to say thanks again to Jeremy Post and Staci Stefan for being the other coaches during this amazing course.