Birmingham Jiu Jitsu gym focuses on self-defense for women and children

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a local Birmingham couple are using their knowledge of jiu jitsu to help teach self-defense skills, especially to women and children.

At the local jiu jitsu gym, Gracie Barra, owners Alex and Gustavo Santos devote much of their time to teaching self-defense and de-escalation tactics, not only creating champions on the mats, but in life.

Alex Santos, who also teaches, tells CBS42 that learning the trade can be life-changing, especially for women and children.

Santos says knowing jiu jitsu can give people confidence – something she says is half the battle.

“If I’m walking to my car and looking confident and looking around and not hunched over, not looking at my phone, fumbling around trying to find my keys, I’m already much less likely to be targeted than if I look shy and sweet,” Santos said.

For women, they offer self-defense classes that teach techniques such as “trap and roll” and “wrist lock” that help them evade attackers.

Andrada Nedelcu, who now works with the gym, says she is grateful to have the strength to take care of herself.

“Whether or not you’re going for, you know, making sure you’re not going to fight or someone is going to hurt you, it’s just important to know how you feel about your body,” Nedelcu said. “You know, knowing that you have that inner strength as well as that outer strength that you build every day on those mats, that’s really important.”

Santos says they also teach kids anti-bullying and de-escalation techniques, like “head escape.” Rowan Melvin, 15, says these tactics give him a lot of confidence.

“The world just isn’t safe – It isn’t,” Melvin said. “It’s important to be able to protect yourself and others, because I see a lot of people being bullied and hurt, and you hear all these stories, and it’s really, really important to know how to stand up for yourself and not be the victim – be the person you intend to save people.

Santos says they work with over a hundred in total, but having the ability to equip even a few women and children with these life-saving techniques through jiu jitsu has made them worth it. assignment.

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