Women and BJJ, Good Combo for Self Defense

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July 14, 2020,

MMA Super star McKenzie Dern always seems to be making history.

Good history.

Great history.

She did it once again.

On June 2, 2020, as reported dazn.com, “In the seven-year history of women competing in the UFC, no female fighter had accomplished what Mackenzie Dern pulled off at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The highly touted Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner became the first woman to win a fight by a leg lock submission when she scored a knee bar in the second round of her fight against Hannah Cifers at the UFC APEX.”

Very impressive.

If you know MMA, then you know McKenzie.

Mackenzie Dern is an American professional mixed martial artist and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

She is a former world No. 1 ranked IBJJF competitor, currently ranked 6th among the female divisions.

She is also a ADCC and no gi BJJ (black belt) World Champion.

The best part of all of this, her resume is in very early development. We suggest that you keep watching.

Her career is an encouragement for women all over the world to think about participating in BJJ.

We have a visiting writer with some insightful thoughts.

Women and BJJ – Good Combo for Self Defense?

By Steve E Larsen

Following a heated discussion about which martial art would be best suited for women and their self-defense, we decided to piece together an article to hopefully spark discussion and to hear some feedback about your thoughts. For women it’s not if you need to learn self-defense tactics, but when. We’ve all heard and hopefully have paid attention to the advice of officials who deal with this type of crime; be mindful of the current situation you’re putting yourself in, be aware of those around you, avoid certain areas at night, stay within large groups of people around you, or better yet stay with your friends. Your safety starts with these suggestions.

Let’s review the tools available, but are known to have issues; a stun gun is a battery-powered handheld device that will send electric current into an assailant, a Taser can send wires that are electrified to immobilize from a distance. These tools are effective in that using them will help you to run away from the attacker. Remember, laws differ in various states. Aerosol pepper spray is regarded as one of the most effective self-defense tools for women. This will more than likely stop, or at least discourage, an assailant because of the blindness, coughing, and choking. The thing that bothers a lot of women about this is that you have to be very close to the assailant, and if it were me I would want to put as much distance between me and the attacker as possible. Other tools include the persuader or kubotan for hitting, and knives, keys, or whistles. Again, in order to be successful, you must be up close to the attacker. A woman could easily be overpowered in a situation like this. We’ve all heard a lot about guns lately. I think you can make up your own mind on this suggestion. I am not going to touch gun rights with a 10 ft pole.

OK, now we’re into the main gist of this article; women and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and if it would be an effective way to protect yourself. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a form of martial arts that can readily be used for self-defense. It can also be found as one of many styles in the sport of mma. At this point you are probably thinking, that’s a man’s sport, no, not really. The reason you think that is because the women who are part of this sport aren’t as well-known as men, but below there are short biographies of two women who are champion competitors in the sport. There are many disciplines to mma, that’s why it’s called mixed martial arts. Within jiu-jitsu alone, there are many defensive tactics you can become very skilled at by going to bjj training, by taking private lessons from a qualified instructor, or through attending seminars.

First off, you will build confidence, self-esteem, and a healthier body. If you ever come face to face with a situation like what we’ve covered you are going to want these traits engrained in you. Certain techniques that are part of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are perfect for women who are seeking self-defense techniques. If you are a small woman without much strength, the time it takes to learn and practice these techniques will build both the physical and mental strength you will need to overpower an attacker. The time and effort will be well invested, believe me.

The two women below have competed at the highest levels, won championships, and given a lot back to the bjj community.

Hillary Williams is from Arkansas. She is a middleweight in bjj which is somewhere around 150 lbs. She was born in October 1988, and is a competitor by nature. She has always been involved in sports one way or another from volleyball to soccer, and softball to golf. She was always active, and during the off-season of her regular sports, her goal was to stay fit so she would be ready for the start of the next season. So, she decided that training at Brazilian jiu-jitsu with two experienced coaches would be the best choice for her. She was eighteen years old and loved her first experience with bjj. Again, having such a competitive spirit, she started competing at local tournaments with the other girls, and once in a while ventured into competition with men. Always wanting to train with the best, she searched around the US to get as much training as possible, and finally went to the source of bjj, Brazil. She started earning 1st place in many of her competitions; she was then awarded her brown belt, the highest ranking color belt which then qualified her (officially) to teach lower ranking students. Hillary went on to be awarded her black belt in 2010, and then won the World Championships combining the brown & black belt Women’s division. Hillary is now studying at the University of Arkansas, combining her studies with training, making time for some kickboxing. Hillary has a website at which you can ask questions about self-defense, bjj, med school, horses, adopting puppies, she does it all.

Kyra Gracie was born May 29, 1985 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her main styles of fighting are Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, and wrestling. She is a 2nd degree black belt, the highest common belt within bjj and representing an expert level of technical and practical skills. She is now an instructor. Kyra is currently training for her debut in mma. She has also stepped into the fashion world with her own chic creations of clothing all designed with an mma theme. One of her goals is to become an inspiration to young girls to follow in her footsteps. She runs a camp just for girls where she trains them in a variety of techniques included in mma specifically Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Kyra Gracie is a member of the renowned Gracie family, yes the one that created our jiu-jitsu. You can find links on her website to many other sites she’s featured on.

Steve Larsen does his best to run the website [http://doyoubjj.com]. He is a purple belt in bjj at a Marcelo Garcia affiliate in Memphis, TN. If you are interested in learning more about bjj, mma, wrestling or the theories behind them, you should come visit the site. Feel free to ask questions!

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