I’m five weeks post surgery now! The first month was super hard but things are getting easier now. I am allowed to sit and lay down without my sling and I started physical therapy. I went back to my doctor today and he says I’m healing up well 🙂
Yesterday was one of those days that I just didn’t want to be a part of humanity anymore. I mentioned in a previous post that every woman I have ever asked has been sexually assaulted at some point in her life. I was talking to a friend yesterday and she realized that what she had previously thought of as a bad sexual experience was in fact rape because she said “no” multiple times during the experience.
She started dwelling on what she could have done differently. It is never the person who was sexually assaulted’s responsibility to have done anything differently. Often the assaulter is taking advantage of power differentials, social norms, and trust in a way that makes it less likely or impossible for the person being assaulted to fight back. It is not your fault and you are not responsible for what happened to you.
I wanted to do another post on the guard for self defense today. But instead I will focus on how jiu jitsu and yoga can help in healing from sexual assault. It is not your responsibility to keep bad people from doing bad things. No matter what happened in the past – remember you are strong and have the power to heal.
You hear a lot in jiu jitsu that you should leave your ego at the door, don’t focus on winning or losing, and avoid negative self talk. Sure – these are all great advice but how do you do it? It’s certainly not as easy as packing your gym bag, remembering to leave your ego on the shelf at home, and going to train. I struggle with negative self talk in all facets of life and I know my life would be easier if I could just be nicer to myself.
So how do you tell your mind to just shut up so you can train?
In a previous post I discussed the 5 self defense moves I would teach a friend who doesn’t know any jiu jitsu. Learning techniques is important but I believe rolling can be just as beneficial for learning how to defend oneself.
For example, say Betsy learns a self defense move in a seminar. She practices it 20 times with an non-resisting partner during the seminar then shows it to a friend when she gets home. Is Betsy likely going to be able to use that technique in a self defense situation in 6 months? What about even the next day? When I’m rolling I usually try to use the move taught in class that day but I’m not usually successful with it right away.
Here are three reasons I think rolling is helpful for self defense.
The first time I rolled after a seven year break my forearms burned. It had been so long since I had fought to hold on to a grip that my arms were exhausted. But since then I have not had any issues with my grip. Contrast my experience to my friend’s. He started in May of this year and is constantly complaining about his fingers hurting and his grip burning out. He’s much stronger than me so I suspect he has not learned how to relax while gripping.
Some people do experience finger pain in jiu jitsu that seems unavoidable (my husband loves Grappz for this reason). But holding on the right way is important too. Sometimes how you grab is as important as where you grab in jiu jitsu. Ok – that’s a bit of an exaggeration but if you can’t hold on, where you grab doesn’t really matter.
Here are four kinds of grips in jiu jitsu and two tips that apply to all grips.
I was talking with a couple of friends over dinner and the topic of women’s self defense came up. My friend (who does not train jiu jitsu) showed the rest of us (who do train jiu jitsu) the self defense move she learned. She’s a very small woman who is so non-violent that she was reluctant to finish the choke on my husband who outweighs her by 75 pounds and started jiu jitsu when he was 15.
I was a little concerned that the self defense technique was a choke from the back – it just seems like an unlikely situation for her to be in. If the only self-defense technique she knows is the choke, how will she get into position to finish the choke? Also, how practical is this move against a larger person? Sure, if she is able to get and stabilize the position, the choke would be effective. But with no experience against a resisting opponent this doesn’t seem likely.
I have a predicament. On the one hand I’m always trying to recruit more women to jiu jitsu and to find ways to make jiu jitsu feel more accessible. On the other hand, I find endless articles and videos on how to do your hair for jiu jitsu, nutition for women grapplers, and what to wear to class to be a little superficial and demeaning. Women in jiu jitsu do more than show up and try to get in shape. We do techniques and roll and have other concerns too damnit.
Honestly, I’m not doing great right now. The pain from my shoulder surgery is pretty much constant – which is exhausting – and not being able to do normal life tasks on my own is frustrating. So I’m writing this to remind myself how I used mindfulness techniques before surgery to deal with the pain.
If I restarted as a white belt who knew no jiu jitsu, this is information I would hope to be given before my first roll. Lots of attention is given to techniques, but it can be difficult to see how to use them if you don’t know where you are. There’s a lot of knowledge out there about each position and its variations. This is my advice for smaller people and women as a blue belt; I know it will change as I learn more and I will update this to share my new knowledge with you as well.