Friday, January 11, 2013

BJJ Violation


Yesterday I read Leaahh's post on the DC rape of a BJJ teammate. (Then I read Georgette's and Megan's and Jenn's.)

I’m not naïve. I know that some men who train martial arts have power issues. This is not the first time, sadly, that I have heard of martial artists raping defenseless teammates. But it is the first time since I myself have been a teammate, since I’ve practiced jiu jitsu, since I’ve started writing about my experiences.

There’s nothing I can say that will take back the events that happened, to be sure. There’s nothing I can say to rebuild the devastation that those men certainly exploded like a bomb in that parking garage—terrorists as they were, if the result of terrorism is fear. Terrorists, not only to women, but also to men, for what man is not afraid that something like this could happen to their mother, sister, daughter? How many men want their daughters to learn self-defense (so they will not become victims) but are now changing their minds, unsure how to advise their daughters to be safe?

Many women derive strength from learning martial arts. It helps them conquer fear from usually being weaker, smaller, more likely to be the victim. Do some of the men I now train with resent that my practice gives me strength? We hope our teammates will help us reach our goal and support us. A woman’s place in most jiu jitsu schools is hard-won. We have to train twice as hard and be more dedicated to earn the same respect for our practice. Apparently that is not enough. I think of all the guys in my school who are my teammates. Would one of them do this to me if they had the opportunity?

Our BJJ relationship is about trust—about “tapping,” about saying “Stop” and having the other person listen, about not hurting each other but helping each other grow and learn. Today I have been reminded that there is not a safe place, that I shouldn’t stay after class to train, that I can’t count on my teammates to help me out if I’m in trouble. My heart goes out to the victim, and my hope, as well, that she has other teammates that will come to her side and help her heal after this trauma. And I am very sad.

9 comments:

  1. It's absolutely horrific. Two team mates rape another team mate, then it turns out that their instructor narrowly avoided conviction for a gang rape himself 20 years earlier. This article provides a good summary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a thread somewhere that said all the teammates lived in a team house supported by the instructor and that many/all of them had at one time been accused/convicted of sexual offenses. I don't know the veracity of this claim, but if anyone does, please confirm or deny. Was this school fostering a culture of violence against women, and then holding rape self-defense classes? I certainly hope not. Have any of the other women at the school spoken out?

      Delete
    2. There is a lot of other information out there now, but I haven't yet heard a female member of Team Lloyd Irvin respond yet, unfortunately.

      More links:

      Criminal complaint and warrant details (warning, not pleasant reading)
      Response of original Lloyd Irvin student, James Valentine
      Response of Tom Callos, father of prominent Team Lloyd Irvin competitor Keenan Cornelius

      Delete
    3. Thanks, slidey. Not only are the warrant details difficult to read, so are some of the comments--people blaming the victim. We do not understand the circumstances that led to this young woman being in the condition she was in that night (might she have been drugged, or maybe she had designated drivers that left?), nor should it matter. But the actions of the perpetrators are on VIDEOTAPE. There's really not much more to say. It amazes me that there is not more outcry over this clearly barbaric incident.

      Delete
  2. That suspicion is the reason why men who train should be equally furious. I went to class yesterday and I couldn't help looking around the room and wondering. And I train with wonderful men. I dont think any of them would ever do this. And then I think, well thats what she probably thought too.When you violate trust in such a brutal way you ruin it for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did the same today, Jenn. My regular instructor was absent and there was someone else in his place. It was me and three very large men. I would be lying if I said I didn't think about this incident. They are wonderful men, to be sure. They would most likely be horrified if they knew what I was thinking. But, who knows?

      Delete
  3. I think this is an absolute travesty, but I don't think it should be a reason for every girl in every BJJ academy to stop trusting their teammates. Our academy has less than 100 students, and most nights on the mat there are only 20-30 guys. So I know each and every one of them. And sure there are guys I trust less than others, but some of the guys at my school are my very best friends. I would trust them with my life. So don't feel like you have to stop trusting your teammates! They can actually be your greatest support, especially in continuing to teach you self defense that could one day prevent a tragic situaion.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What really freaks me out is how many ladies have reached out to me telling me they, too, were assaulted by their own teammates... *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know of some instances, too. It's sad to hear. I'm glad, at least, that you have been there to offer support.

      Delete

Shark Girl Faces a Change

It is a turning point for Shark Girl. I haven’t written in a while. When I was a white belt, everything was new and curious. And being ...