PV- The younger, the better. Jiu-Jitsu is a great tool to increase the confidence and self-esteem of any child. At a young age, girls are frequently picked on by bullies, and these situations often create psychological trauma that can last a lifetime. Girls who are trained in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu have the poise to confront bullies and not be intimidated by them. The sooner they start, the easier it is for them to develop the reflexes and the automatic reactions that will enable them to apply the techniques naturally when they grow older. Jiu-Jitsu is a natural art, and since kids are not physically strong, the learning process is faster and simpler when they are younger. My sister started learning Jiu-Jitsu when she was two years old.
DG- How long before you can train a normal and healthy girl to defend herself?
PV- The longer a girl trains, the more prepared she is going to be to face an attacker. Since women usually give up a significant physical handicap to men, they need to master each technique in order to use it effectively. However, after completing a fifty-lesson course, any woman will have the elements to defend herself against any man in any situation. After that it’s a matter of continual practice with the objective of maximizing her odds of surviving an assault.
DG- Can a small girl really defend herself against a big guy?
PV- Yes, because the moves taught in Jiu-Jitsu are not dependent upon physical strength. Therefore, a girl will learn, through the techniques of Jiu-Jitsu, how to neutralize a bigger opponent’s physical strength and actually use it to her advantage in many cases.
DG- What are the three most important things you teach a girl who wants to stop a goon?
PV- First, speak with confidence and be assertive. Be outspoken giving yourself permission to be rude. Don’t be nice to strangers. If you decide to attack your aggressor, do so quickly and with complete conviction. Attackers are most often cowards and prefer to attack easier and more submissive targets.
Second, don’t panic! Stay as relaxed as possible and wait for the perfect opportunity to counterattack with the Jiu-Jitsu technique that best fits the situation you are in.
Third, always be alert and prepared. Remember that an assault does not have a set date and time like a professional fight, for example.
DG- Can you relate a couple of examples of girls the Gracies trained who were actually attacked and how what you taught them caused them to disable their assailant?
PV- Several female Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have related situations where they were able to avoid an assault through their assertive behavior and without the necessity of any physical confrontation. The confidence attained by girls who practice Jiu-Jitsu is so great that, in many cases, just the firmness in their eye contact causes their attacker to pick an easier target. Most attackers back out when they feel that the woman is willing to fight back and defend herself.
But there have been examples both in Brazil and the US where women have escaped physical assaults using the proven techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. One time, in Brazil, a rapist who was armed with a knife took a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to the ground in a secluded area, and as he prepared to perform an act of sexual violence the woman applied an arm lock and managed to run away.
DG- What are the top ten things you would tell a girl to do who has no training in Jiu-Jitsu or any other martial art?
1. Trust your instincts. If someone looks suspicious to you, leave and get to a safe place. It’s better to be cautious than wrong.
2. Be familiar with your limitations and how you react under stress. Some women respond effectively by physical struggle or fighting; others by running; others by distraction, screaming, or talking. Know your personal style and get self-defense training to change or enhance that style if necessary.
3. Realize that anyone who gets upset that you are suspicious of them may not have your best interest in mind.
4. Be aware that assaults, including rape, can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Always be aware of people and the environment around you.
5. Don’t drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Feel free to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable.
6. Don’t use a weapon unless you’ve been trained to use it.
7. When walking, running, or jogging, don’t use headsets—you can’t hear someone approaching or signaling you.
8. Always lock your car, even if you’ll only be out a few minutes.
9. Always lock the car when in it, so no one can open the doors.
10. If you think you’re being followed by another car, don’t pull into your driveway. Drive straight to the nearest police or fire station and honk your horn. Don’t leave your car until you’re sure it’s safe.
This year, parent, give your daughter the gift that says you care, the gift of being trained to open up a big can of whup a** if need be! Merry Christmas.
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