On March 19, Renzo Gracie Academy‘s Greenpoint location (100 Bayard St.) hosted its first women’s self-defense seminar instructed by lifelong Brazilian jiu jitsu athlete Arthan Bandeira. This comes as a result of many of jiu jitsu practitioner and Greenpoint-based tattoo artist Juliet Chen‘s clients requesting such a class combined with the rise of violence against women in the area, particularly Asian women.
“The idea was ‘Let’s make martial arts more accessible to women,'” Chen explained. “It could be intimidating since [jiu jitsu] is a very male-dominated type of martial arts. Plus after living here in Brooklyn and you read the news and are always wondering what is going on with all the attacks, the Asian attacks. So I said ‘OK, it’s time to do it.'”
Chen organized the seminar in partnership with her coach, Arthan Bandeira, who grew up with the sport in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro. Chen herself has been practicing two times a day for three years. To start, the first seminar taught the basics, such as standing positions and trying to break free from a hold.
The March 19 session drew forty-five attendees from all walks of life, which Chen attributes to the adaptability of the sport (her own 4-year-old daughter also practices), which she acknowledges is mainly about leverage rather than super strength.
Moving forward thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response, Renzo Gracie Academy is aiming to have another follow-up session on or around April 23 and hopes to schedule regular occurrences either every month or every month and a half moving forward.
“This martial arts changed my life, especially with postpartum depression; I wanted to share this passion I have with other women. I feel much safer when I go out, when I walk out at night,” Chen said. “For me it was very important to teach this to my community, to my clients. I think it’s so empowering and everyone should come and learn.”