Humboldt Jiu Jitsu and Hoopa Project Connect Join Forces to Teach Women’s Self-Defense

Worth DefendingAccording to the U.S. Department of Justice a woman or girl is sexually assaulted somewhere in America every 90 seconds. Add that one out of every five American women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. The numbers worsen for teenage girls. Girls aged 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

As if the odds weren’t already stacked against them, American Indian teens are even three times more likely than non-American Indian girls to be sexually assaulted.

“It’s a dark subject that nobody really wants to think about,” said Monty Martin, a self-defense instructor who uses Brazilian Jiu Jitsu martial arts techniques to help empower women and enable them to protect themselves should the need arise. “It’s an unfortunate reality of the world. We must prepare for it. If you eat good food, exercise and take care of yourself, why not learn to defend that temple also?”

Martin says there’s a strong need and that he’s taught hundreds of women how to protect themselves.

Lisa Sanderson, an advocate and educator with Hoopa’s Project Connect, also recognized the need and coordinated a self-defense seminar at Hoopa Valley High School two weeks ago.

More than 27 female high school students began the seminar quiet and timid. Four hours later, they couldn’t hold back their enjoyment and new found confidence.

“The girls started out shy, but as the day progressed, they got more outward. They laughed louder and talked more. They were having fun,” Sanderson said. “They were amazed at how strong they were, physically and mentally. What I enjoyed most was seeing their confidence grow in such a short amount of time.”

For Lisa, the real reward was teaching the girls that they are worth defending.

“To truly know that you are worth defending is a whole other feeling,” Sanderson said. “Knowing you are worth it is empowering.”

Martin, who holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has decades of experiences in various martial arts disciplines, has two teenage daughters, who he says, motivated him to begin teaching women’s self-defense classes through the gym that was formerly known as North Coast Self Defense.

“We teach using a method that uses the attacker’s energy and momentum against them,” he said. “It doesn’t require so much brute strength.”

And according to Martin, what’s more important than learning the moves to protect their bodies, is learning how to be aware.

“Raising awareness is almost more important,” Martin said. “Potentially violent situations can be prevented with awareness and if not, the girls have confidence and skill needed to protect themselves.”

Sanderson said many in the community caught wind of the class and began to reach out.

“We are going to try to hold more classes or seminars after the holidays,” she said.

Support for this event was provided by Hoopa Project Connect, Hoopa Valley High School, Hoopa Valley Tribal TANF and Humboldt Jujitsu.

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