My daughter has a one-in-three chance of being a victim of sexual assault at some point in her life. As a father, I can look at this number in one of two ways; I can sit and wonder what my daughter will do when she goes off by herself without me to protect her. Or, I can prepare her to surprise any would-be attacker with a swift kick to the junk, shattering their elbow with an arm bar, and then applying a rear-naked choke that renders them unconscious. I’ll take option number two, please.
It’s All About That Base, That Wrestling Base
I have a wrestling background, first and foremost; I’ve been involved for 30 years, both a competitor and a coach. My father is a Hall of Fame coach in Minnesota, and a former NCAA Division I wrestler and active in the sport for nearly 50 years. To say I am biased about the benefits of wrestling would be an understatement. It would also be an understatement to say that my daughter will be involved in wrestling in her life.
Wrestling provides the basics of self-defense: You learn how to fight one-on-one, gain body awareness (for yourself and your opponent), and you develop an ability to explosively react that remains ingrained into you long after you are done wrestling competitively. I still get my legs back and sprawl if someone ducks down suddenly when they are near me. That’s the kind of muscle memory I want my daughter to have—an instantaneous reaction. After all, few would-be attackers are expecting a woman to adopt a wrestling stance and hit a double-leg takedown on him straight onto the sidewalk and knowing how to maintain control of the situation after the initial takedown.
Knowing how to wrestle isn’t enough, however, as it doesn’t really teach you how to hurt someone. That’s why chokes and holds that can break bones are necessary. That’s why I recommend doubling down on that self-defense training and getting your daughter involved in jiu-jitsu, because it’s not enough to have your little girl be able to take down a grown man, you want her to be able to give that jack-wagon who tried to assault her have a permanent limp. For that, nothing’s better than jiu-jitsu.
Have you ever seen a jiu-jitsu competition? If not go watch one now and you will see why every single woman in the United States should be taking classes on this martial arts discipline. Every match is a controlled brawl. Each person is trying to gain a better position, looking for ankle, knee, wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, or chokehold to gain the submission. It’s a beautiful thing to watch because of how much skill and control and explosiveness are needed.
Jiu-jitsu takes the fight-with-rules area that wrestling occupies, and throws the rules out. You are working on how to avoid chokes and submission holds, gaining a dominant position while preventing your opponent from getting the same advantage, and working to put in your own chokes and locks. In this respect, jiu-jitsu is more akin to what a fight fo