By: Cindy Rhategan
I got my start in martial arts about 15 years ago while searching for a tae kwon do facility for my daughter, Justine. After choosing a school and observing Justine taking class, I thought this would be a good way to exercise and learn some self defense at the same time. My husband, Sean, agreed since his job had him traveling quite a bit at that time. So I joined tae kwon do and started taking classes with my daughter. By the time Justine graduated high school, we were both 2nd Degree Tae Kwon Do Black Belts. While Justine went off to college, I decided to continue with tae kwon do even after two knee surgeries. I was about six months away from testing and receiving my 3rd Degree in tae kwon do when Sean suggested that I try a ju-jitsu class after speaking with the instructor, Sensei Jim Campbell, who taught Japanese ju jitsu at the same facility. I was hesitant at first to do so, but between Sean and knowing a mother of a taekwondo student who actually took ju jitsu here, I decided to check out a class. I attended and participated in a class and was amazed and impressed with the Japanese ju jitsu. To say the least, I was hooked after one class!
Being a very strong advocate of the right to protect and defend one’s self especially as a woman, I truly felt that learning ju jitsu would be a great addition to my current skills and knowledge. One of the first things I realized after taking a few ju jitsu classes is how the different martial arts compliment one another in which taekwondo has helped me with ju jitsu and ju jitsu has helped me with tae kwon do. The second thing I realized is that every martial art has something to offer to the student studying it and depending on the martial art and the student, some martial arts have more to offer than others. What Japanese ju jitsu offers is a wide range of skill sets from groundwork, referred to as grappling, to boxing to disarmament of various weapons and everything in between when being threaten within your “personal space” be it in or outside your home.
Ever since I started taking ju-jitsu classes 5 years ago, I have gained more confidence, knowledge and skills to defend myself against any type of attack should the need arise. Just the numerous skills alone that I have bee taught during this time are quite extensive. I have learned to box including kicking with it; ground defense, which included grappling moves and other various techniques; how to fall without sustaining major injury; weapon defense and disarmament against knife and pistol; escrima stick defense, disarmament and striking techniques; and hand to hand defense using pressure points, joint locks, blocks, strikes, escapes, throws and other techniques. A couple of these skills have come into play in the past few years, like the time the heel of my shoe got caught in a crack in the sidewalk in which I fell forward and automatically did a front dive breaking my fall without sustaining any real injury. My husband, who was walking behind me, was amazed at how I was able to break my fall. Other people I know have actually broken their wrists trying to break their fall. Another incident was when I was on vacation on an island in the Caribbean. I was walking with friends in town when a local vagrant grabbed my arm and I immediately turned raising both my hands in a defensive manner causing him to release his hold on my arm. I did not have to any further action as several locals stepped in and took the man away. So my ju jitsu skills and training automatically and effectively came into play in both of these different incidents. Like most things in life, the key to any form of self defense is repetition and practice. I wish more women were proactive and took the initiative to get training in self defense skills, as it would be a great asset to them.
All these skills and knowledge that I have developed and continue to develop through ongoing practice and discipline have strengthened me both mentally and physically. My personal goal is to continue training in these skills so that they all become automatic and fluent through muscle memory.