The very creation of Gracie Jiu Jitsu came from the need for a smaller opponent to be able to defeat a larger one. Helio Gracie was the smallest of 5 brothers and in frail health. After watching his 4 brothers participate in jiu jitsu classes for quite some time, he finally found the opportunity to get on the mats himself when his brother, Carlos, was unable to make it to class. He introduced the concept of leverage to the martial art, applying it in ways that allowed a smaller opponent to escape or gain control of a larger one. He continued his studies, tweaking techniques and creating new ones that allowed a person, regardless of stature, to be effective and victorious. 


Being that in most cases of violence against women the female is the smaller of those involved, it makes sense to use a self defense training that is geared towards science and useful techniques, regardless of size, as opposed to brute strength. Many Jiu jitsu positions are centered around being on the ground or confined in tight spaces, which the data shows are often the positions that female survivors found themselves in, fighting on their back so to speak.  


Jiu Jitsu also offers a unique opportunity to experience situations that trigger physiological and psychological changes in its students. Practitioners put themselves in what would be considered dangerous positions within the confines of a safe space. This allows their brains and bodies to acclimate to these types of situations, to find places where they are safe in the midst of chaos, and to rely on technique over strength and panic. This means that even when their brain floods with neurochemicals, their focus and critical thinking capacity are not impaired: they can still play mental chess, planning out actions and reactions, strategizing defenses and attacks, essentially rewriting their bodies’ reaction to attacks, as well as fear, stress, and anxiety in general life. 


It is powerful to know that you can keep yourself safe, even when under attack by a larger opponent. The confidence that comes with the ability to maintain control increases anyone’s innate feeling of personal safety and comfort. The constant physical contact of jiu jitsu coupled with its high intensity athletics also releases a team of feel good chemicals into the brain, adding to practitioners’ positive feelings and state of mind.


Perhaps more importantly than the physical and psychological accomplishments of Jiu Jitsu is the philosophy that becomes a part of every aspect of a practitioner’s life. A cursory glance at the mindset behind the art will readily give you multiple more reasons behind the choice of Jiu Jitsu. A true understanding of the Jiu Jitsu philosophy prepares women for life, teaching paths that lead a healthier existence and employing the most efficient use of mental, spiritual, and physical strength. Some philosophies of Jiu Jitsu describe the states of mind that a warrior should be able to adopt in combat to facilitate victory. These include an all-encompassing awareness, zanshin (literally "remaining spirit"), in which the practitioner is ready for anything at any time; the spontaneity of mushin (literally "no mind"), which allows immediate action without conscious thought; and a state of composure or imperturbability known as fudoshin (literally "immovable mind"). Mindfulness is all the rage today, but Jiu Jitsu teaches the same focused attention in a way that can save your life. 

In all, Jiu Jitsu offers the one thing many survivors lack: control. The motto “no wasted energy on things you can’t control; maintain focus only on the things you can” allows survivors to heal in a way that is both realistic and beneficial to life at large.

© 2020 by Defy and Conquer.

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