(This story has been updated to include a map depicting where four recent sexual assaults took place on campus.)
Four cases of sexual assault have been confirmed on Ole Miss’ campus since the beginning of the school year. News like that can make people, especially women, feel less safe, but learning self-defense may help.
Oxford Fitness Kickboxing, located on Jackson Avenue West, teaches a wide variety of students Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a fighting style that specializes in grappling and ground fighting, but most of all, self-defense. It is designed so that a small person has the ability to take on a much bigger opponent.
“Jiu-jitsu martial arts wasn’t made for strong, heavy or big guys,” said black-belt instructor Ricardo Martin. “I mean, my students, for example – you look at them, and they look very fragile, but I wouldn’t mess with them on the street, you know?”
Martin emigrated to America from Brazil with his family nearly 10 years ago and began teaching the martial art form. He hopes more people will come to his classes to learn how to better defend themselves.
“It’s a skill you’ll have for the rest of your life,” Martin said.
One of Martin’s students, Carly Cohn, experienced the benefits of taking the class firsthand. She said she successfully defended herself from a man that was much larger than her.
“I think the situation would have ended up a lot differently if I hadn’t (known) a little bit of jiu-jitsu and a little bit of self-defense,” Cohn said. “It was a really minor thing, but knowing jiu-jitsu and training with these big guys really taught me how to not panic when I’m feeling uncomfortable in a situation like that.”
Michael McEwen is another one of Martin’s students. Though he said he is mainly training to become a UFC fighter, he has seen many other benefits of the classes he’s taken.
“I definitely feel this class allows you to be a lot more safe and to walk around with a lot more confidence,” McEwen said. “Self-defense means the confidence to walk around and live the way that I want to live.”
By Garrett Shearman, a student of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at Ole Miss.
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