Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shark Girl’s Top Ten: MLK Quotes in Light of the DC Rape


1. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
As I wrote in my previous post, the violation that the TLI “Medal Chasers” committed was a crime against everyone. What makes one person less safe, makes us all less safe. Which brings me to # 2 . . .

2. For you will never be what you ought to be until they [your fellow humans] are what they ought to be.

3. Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
For all those who say, “It was a horrible atrocity those two men committed, but the girl had a part in it because she [insert comment of choice]."

4. Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? . . . Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.
No comment needed on this one.

5. We bring [injustice] out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
Thank you to all who have refused to keep silent about this. While it is difficult to talk about, and we do not want the victim to relive pain through our words, I believe that being silent on this issue is morally wrong. As a jiu jitsu community we determine the culture we want to be by our actions. Holding back outrage does not make this injustice go away, it only condones it and makes it a part of our community, which leads me to #6  . . .

6. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

7. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
It is easy to hate the perpetrators and put them in a category of “them.” It is much harder to examine them as broken human beings, and to try to figure out where we as a society can do better at preventing people from becoming broken in the first place. Which leads me to . . .

8. Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
Rener & Ryron Gracie, below, try to shed light on this by discussing how a gym's atmosphere can either encourage or dissuade aggression.
Warning: This video contains shameless self-promotion and loses sight of the original message in its 30-minute sprawl. However, those of you who are patient will be rewarded with a rare peek into Ryron's tragic fish-fungus ordeal!

9. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Thank you to all the men and women who have publicly come out and supported the victim, deplored the perpetrators, and spoken for women’s safety and equality in our sport. Some of you have voted with your feet, like BETA Academy, TLI’s former largest affiliate school; some with your words.

10. I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
This is in support of Keenan Cornelius’s family for standing up against Cornelius’s TLI affiliation. I found this quote on a sherdog message board: “Keenan's family should keep to themselves now, especially Chloe. She is only creating more drama.” We should speak out, and we should create drama, or else we are complicit. If we do not speak out, if we stand by and watch, if we keep to ourselves, how are we better than the Lloyd Irvin who stood by in 1990 while a woman was being gang-raped?

Okay, I lied …Shark Girl’s Top 10 now goes to 11. But how could I leave out this one, my favorite MLK quote?:

11. Modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We've learned to fly the air like birds, we've learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven't learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters. . . .
I have a dream, my fellow jiu jitsu practitioners. Let us help each other learn to walk as brothers and sisters. It starts with leaving your ego not only at the mat, but everywhere else, too.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Everyone.

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 na├»ve. 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.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shark Girl: Can We Rebuild Her?


I have so many things to work on in jiu jitsu. I keep a running list. Of course, it gets longer and longer and I don’t seem to make any progress.

The other night I rolled with a lovely young man who had lots of advice to give me. I have rolled with this type before, but the advice was always, “You should move like this,” or “When this happens, put your hand here to stop it,” or, “Here is how you escape this.” At all that great and valuable information I would nod and say, “Okay, gotcha. I understand what you mean. I just hope I can remember that when I’m in this situation again.” (It usually goes in one ear and out the other!)

But this young man didn’t say any of that. He said I had a great game, that I was doing everything right. But that I was also doing everything wrong. And he talked, not about my moves, but about intangible things, things I could understand and remember, but that will be much harder for me to implement than simply executing an escape. The advice he gave me was about instinct and reaction and reflection. I will have to break down my whole game and rebuild it. I will have to undo muscle memory and start from scratch.

I feel like this right now:

This is how I roll??