Tapping Out: Teachers, Staff Learn Jiu-Jitsu for Self-Defense

Chanelle Camero, Online Editor

     On Feb. 22 math teacher Jed Uson organized and instructed the first class for self-defense jiu-jitsu in the wrestling room. The class was open to all the teachers and staff, giving them the chance to practice self-defense jiu-jitsu techniques for themselves as well as their family.

   “The impact — oh man — I would love, I would love to have everybody participate in jiu-jitsu, if not, just try it, see if it works for them. It’s definitely not for everybody. Maybe time (is a problem), maybe it’s just not their thing but just to get some exposure, especially in the self-defense aspect of it. I would love for everybody to have that type of knowledge — for all teachers. I think that would be great,” said Uson.

    While he was in the military, Uson joined jiu-jitsu to gain more knowledge to help him feel safe. Since then, his love for jiu-jitsu has only grown and has led him to start and instruct these lessons for the faculty. “It’s so much fun, it’s very important for learning to feel confident if you ever get into a confrontation. And based on that passion and other people having the same interest, I just kind of took initiative and said, ‘Hey, let’s try and let’s start something,’ so that’s how it started,” said Uson. “It’s good exercise, I love the camaraderie that it gives amongst colleagues and I like the fact that it gives you this sense of power if you’re ever confronted in that situation and that’s kind of the message that I want to share with everybody.”

     At the first class, Uson led with warm up drills for the participants and taught them the basics of jiu-jitsu. The main position that Uson focused on was the mount, a grappling position, and how to get out of it. “He’s a purple belt at jiu-jitsu and so he kind of decides maybe — I know the way he kind of does it is he goes with the basics first because it’s hard to teach more advance moves without knowing the basics,” said agriculture teacher Matthew Calica. Uson added, “In jiu-jitsu, the mount is one of the things that you wanna search for to dominate a person. And once you establish that, a lot of times you win the fight. And for a lot of these people, they’re not, you know — we have families that we go home to and so I wanna show them this technique to get out of the mount and just be safe so that’s the goal.”

    The central idea of the launch of these classes was to create a safe atmosphere. The goal was to share their knowledge, experience and love for jiu-jitsu. “I think the main purpose or goal, again, I think is just bonding. It’s a good way to bond with other staff, with other teachers,” said Calica.

     The two have worked together since the beginning to make these lessons happen. They started collaborating when they taught at Campbell in 2014. Automechanic teacher Melvin Oliveros was also involved during the beginning planning process. “I just kind of you know, kind of helped make sure that everybody was safe and just made sure that people wouldn’t run into each other. Also Mr. Uson a lot of times would demonstrate on me how to do moves,” said Calica. Uson added, “We just started this two weeks ago, three weeks ago and so he is a normal attendant that comes and whoever’s brand new at it, he kind of gives his knowledge on how to perform techniques or his experiences.”

    During the planning process, Uson and Calica had to figure out a place to train as well as a time that would work best for the faculty. They had to take into consideration the wrestling and judo practices and talk to athletic director Glenn Nitta to arrange the usage of the wrestling room. “And then once you get all that done then, again, you have to build the program, so even more, you have to be able to get good relationships with people, people have to trust you,” said Uson. “Or they’re not gonna go to a person who’s not credible. So those are all things that — all obstacles that you have to go through when building a program.”

    Uson sent out an email to the faculty to spread the word. In the email he explained what was going to be covered at the first class. At first, some of the faculty felt uncertain with the opportunity. “I deleted it. That was my first thought. Because I’m like, ‘Oh that’s something that’s silly. I can’t do that’ and then I thought about it a little more and thankfully he sent out a second email which gave a little bit more information and I thought, ‘I really do want to do that even if I’m kind of nervous about it,’” said one of the participants social studies teacher Kimberly Lauzon.

    There were four faculty members that participated at the first class. From this experience, they learned that there are things that they can do in order to protect themselves. “I’m planning on attending again because it was nice to be with people who also wanted to learn how to protect themselves in a dangerous situation. And it makes me feel like I’m doing something like positive,” said Lauzon. “Growing up as a young woman, I was always told to be careful, but you know, watch where I’m walking, don’t walk at night, walk with someone else, don’t go running by yourself. You know, all these things that I’m used to being told and I tell my own daughters but it’s nice to learn how to do something in case that worst case scenario does happen.”

    Even though Lauzon decided to attend, she felt nervous at the beginning of the lesson. She ended up enjoying her first class and learned things that she can practice before the next class. “I think it’s really beneficial to empower people to have more confidence and to face things they’re afraid of and be able to protect themselves if they do get into a difficult situation,” said Lauzon. “(I enjoyed) talking to everyone. And learning some basic steps — that if someone is on top of you (or) like things that you could do just using gravity and that sort of thing to help even if you’re smaller or weaker.” Uson added, “I enjoyed that — so we had four participants that went, none of whom did ever do any jiu-jitsu and for them to know some basic techniques on how to survive a very dominant position, I felt it was just a great experience for them.”

    Staff classes are currently scheduled to be every Friday at 3:00 p.m. in the wrestling room.