In Jiu-jitsu, there is a lot of close contact in our training. We’re always in each other’s personal space, which can be uncomfortable for people just starting out. Just yesterday, I was demonstrating a defense in which I was prone on my belly while my attacker was kneeling between my legs, holding my wrists down with his body weight pinning my torso. Oh and my demonstration partner was over 200lbs too. For most people, this would feel uncomfortable between the invasion of their personal space and the feeling of being immobilized physically. But if we’re to learn how to defend ourselves, it’s absolultely vital to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If you let the feeling of discomfort take over, it can create a panicked state, a desperate desire to get out. In this state of mind, it’s hard to focus and see opportunities that can help facilitate your escape. Without the ability to think critically about the best options for escape, you’re more likely to flail about using all your strength up in the struggle. If you’re bigger and/or stronger than your attacker, this may work out, but if you’re at a strength disadvantage, you’re more likely to tire yourself, further limiting your ability to escape. Continue reading
Chris and I were training last weekend with our Filipino martial arts instructor friend, Jesse Blue, as part of our development through cross-training. We were working on some punching response drills in which we would flow into various counter-strikes, locks and takedowns. At one point, Jesse reminded us of the importance of changing the rhythm of our attack when we are feeding punches to our partner. I quickly nodded in agreement, and made a mental note to write about it in more detail. So here we go.
Your rhythm within a combat situation should never be like a pulse. A steady beat is easier to track, predict and adapt to. As such, if you always feed your attack with the exact same rhythm when training, with the exact same length of pause between individual punches or between sets of attacks, your defending training partner starts to anticipate that rhythm, making it easier to perform their responses. Of course, we know that attackers all have different rhythms and won’t necessarily maintain that same rhythm throughout a fight so we do our partner a disservice to always use the same one.
In my women’s self-defense class, I always go over the concept of weapons of opportunity. This is the use of items on your person or in your surroundings as opportunity allows in the context of defending against an attack. Professor Sylvain, founder of Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, always liked to use the example of using a grocery can with a can of beans in it. A person on their way to their car carrying this item could swing it using the can to strike an assailant. The person isn’t carrying it for that person, they just happened to use it that way because it was a convenient way to defend themselves at that moment.
Oftentimes when students first start training in a martial art, they feel unsure of themselves and lack confidence in the application of their techniques, even when they start developing some skill in them. This can manifest as startled expressions, diminutive postures and questioning looks toward instructors or more senior students. This is entirely understandable, but it has a negative impact on the application of techniques and can also hurt their general awareness of their surroundings.
I was recently working with a student like this who is getting ready to go for their yellow belt. The student has gained enough skill to do most of their techniques without having to consciously remember them, but is timid in their application in the way I described above. I gave this student one of the most important lessons in terms of attitude when first starting out: “Fake it till you make it.” Continue reading
This past weekend I travelled to New Jersey to visit Sensei Damien Wright’s dojo, Wright Fight Concepts, to teach a seminar. While I was there, I had the opportunity to train in one of his classes in which he gave me an introduction to the fundamentals of Nagasu Ryu Jujitsu. I also had the opportunity to meet and have a long chat with the founder of the style, Shihan Wayne Ford, who goes by his nick name, “Papasan” (seen in the photo with me on the right). Between my time with both Sensei Damien and Papasan, I learned that our styles are quite similar in principal, but with interesting stylistic differences that are easy to incorporate as a Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu student. I’ve divided up this article into a few of the many Papasan quotes that characterize his teachings.
Over the past few weeks, this article series has looked at different aspects of rape culture, from the gender socialization issues (in part 1) from which it’s born to the complexities of victim blaming in dealing with rape victims (in part 2). In this last piece, we’ll take a hard look at the widespread misconceptions about rape, and ultimately, what things we can do individually and as a society to address the problem.
The Commonness of Rape
One of the problems about rape is that it is seen as a rare event. If you talk about rape with people, especially guys, most will say they’ve never known anyone who has been raped. When you tell people the truth, that 1 in 5 women have survived rape or attempted rape, they find it hard to believe. Most people know someone who have been mugged, had their car stolen, their home broken into, etc. but few people can think of a single person who has been raped. They find it hard to accept that such a high proportion of the women they know have probably faced rape or a rape attempt. Their perception of reality doesn’t match up, so many distrust the statistic. The only ones they hear about are ones that pop up in the media. The truth is that many victims keep quiet about their rapes and don’t press charges. Even if they do seek support from a few trusted people, many just don’t want to make it common knowledge. They often feel embarrassed and ashamed, as though they should have done more to prevent it. With victim blaming so prominent in our culture, it’s all too understandable why they might feel that way.
Last week I started discussing what rape culture is and the gender socialization issues for both men and women that contribute to its perpetuation. This week I’ll be going into more detail about specific issues related to rape culture, starting with victim blaming.
Understanding the Problem of Victim Blaming
The idea behind victim blaming is that by engaging in certain behaviours, victims are inviting crimes upon themselves. It is not limited to sexual assault crimes, but it is a cultural norm for them.
While I was attending self-defense lectures at the the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation 2014 training camp, I had the opportunity to speak with dozens of women who work at trauma centres that help women who have been raped. These women told me that time and time again they hear women talk about how fathers, brothers, friends, cops, etc, tell them that they should not have engaged in such risky behaviours in dealing with them as rape victims. Unless you’ve been through it, work with or spoken to people who have, there’s no reason why you would know how common it is. Here are some examples rape victims commonly encounter: Continue reading
While I was driving home yesterday, a Vancouver radio announcer on 99.3 The Fox started commenting about the nude photos of Jennifer Laurence and other celebrities that were leaked by a hacker who had obtained them by criminal means. He went on to say that of course it wasn’t right, but who in their right mind would store their nude photos on a Internet-based storage system. He later talked about whether or not it was right to look at said photos, going on to admit that yeah, he was a bad man and sneaked a peek. Continue reading
This past weekend we hosted a 2-day course with Guro Ed Wong of Urban Survival Systems and the Modern Cimande Club. His fighting system blends techniques from Silat, Non-classical Gong Fu, and a number of other styles, and is dedicated to exploring and educating people in the reality of street combat, including many people in the field of security, law enforcement, and military. Ed (as he prefers to be called) teaches with very similar principles to Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, but slightly different tools and applications. What’s great about this is that they are easy to blend with what we do. Continue reading
In order to maintain a safe training environment, practicing self-defense techniques involves a type of role-playing in which one person plays the role of the defender and one or more people play attackers. We play out the scene physically so that we can practice reacting with techniques that would theoretically be effective in a real situation. But if role-playing is the main emphasis of your training, you have to be aware of certain practices that can train bad habits that can have dangerous consequences in a real attack.
Habit #1: Focusing entirely on one attacker.
In most self-defense classes, techniques are presented and practiced assuming a 2-person scenario, one defender and one attacker. From a practical standpoint, it’s easier to learn techniques and manage a class using this general dynamic. The problem is that not all scenarios fit this dynamic. You could start with one attacker only to have their friends jump in to help. Or it could be a group attack right from the start, swarming a single person. Or you might not be alone. You could have a friend helping you out, or you could be minding a child that needs your protection. So if you only train to mentally and physically to deal with a one-on-one scenario, you might find yourself struggling when the situation is different. Continue reading