Seminar teaches self-defense, confidence

changing the flow of a situation—Miguel Rios escapes his attacker, his brother Roberto Rios. The move used is the upper-body clench. The move shown moves from blocking a punch, into locking the assailant and finally pushing the attacker away from the victim. CN/ Juan Calvillo

By Juan Calvillo

Jiu-jitsu instructors taught a self-defense seminar Tuesday in response to an assault reported over the summer. 

Brian Ha, associated student union president, along with other members of ASU met with Myeshia Armstrong, vice president of administrative services, to talk about having a self-defense seminar. 

Armstrong said a self-defense event was done for the faculty and staff at ELAC. And that ASU was especially excited to have one done for the campus.

Armstrong said that Nghi Nghiem, associate vice president of administrative services, and ASU took the reigns to setup the seminar. 

Nghiem said the session on Tuesday was the first of a series that would be offered on campus to students, faculty and staff.

“The college administration’s utmost priority is the saftey and security of our students, staff and faculty. These self-defense sessions offerings are additional tools our college constituents may engage in to further protect themselves,” Nghiem said. 

Nghiem said that the process of keeping everyone on campus safe was an ongoing one.

“We hold a week-long safety session every Fall and Spring semesters to provide the campus with safety information, sessions and emergency drills,” Nghiem said.

Future session dates will be updated via the campus safety training webpage. 

Nghiem said that RAZA Brazilian jiu-jitsu was chosen to conduct this first session.

Brothers Miguel and Roberto Rios and Anita Santos, instructors at RAZA Brazillian jiu-jitsu, showed step-by-step instructions to control unwanted situations all the while keeping the instruction fun and inclusive for East Los Angeles College students.

Miguel Rios said jiu-jitsu worked by melding the right and left sides of the mind into one cohesive unit.

Roberto Rios said that the idea for learning self-defense and specifically jiu-jitsu was to learn how to take a scenario and simply “go with the flow.” “This is a martial art,” Rios said. 

He emphasized that it was still an art and that when learning it they tried to make it fun. 

Miguel Rios said that at the core, jiu-jitsu was meant to make situations more advantageous for the person being attacked. 

“Whatever the situation, we are going to find a way to be creative and solve the problem,” Rios said. 

He said that he learned jiu-jitsu because he wanted to be able to defend himself when he was younger. Miguel Rios said that because of his short stature and small frame, he had never really been able to connect with other forms of martial arts, which he saw the larger fighter always winning. 

Jiu-jitsu allows an adaptability that the instructors said was key when it came to getting out of bad situations no matter the size of a person’s adversary.

Students in attendance talked about why they wanted to learn some form of self defense. Isai Paredes said taking the seminar would be beneficial to him because he was looking to go into law enforcement. 

Taylor Palomares and Valerie Beltran both mentioned that with women being targets it was a good idea to know how to look after oneself.

The instructors showed the students the basic step for capoeira, an African-Brazilian mixture of dancing and fighting. Miguel Rios started with the basic step, the Ginga. 

This move consisted of an open gait with the front foot flat and the back foot on the toes. Rios said this allows for less energy to be spent by the person. 

The back foot then makes the transition to being parallel to the front, while the front foot takes the place of back foot in the same on-the-toes position. 

The arms stay in unison with the foot placement. Whichever foot is brought to the front, the corresponding arm is moved up and across the head in a protective position.

The instructors then mixed in a forward kick to the movement. The kick was given by the same leg being moved forward during the Ginga. 

This was followed by the addition of a side bending cartwheel motion, including more covering of the body and head with the arm to block possible attacks. 

Miguel Rios said that the key was to first learn a rhythm for movement. He said learning rhythm allowed people to see attackers rhythms and find a way to disrupt them.

Miguel Rios said that when a person feels threatened they should always build a boundary between them and the assailant. 

He showed that simple outstretched arms and saying “stop” was ideal. Rios then moved on to protection from a common strike assailants use called the haymaker.

Using the same palm forward and outstretched arms from building a boundary, he performed the move called the upper-body clench.

This move is meant to be done as the assailant is in the beginning stages of the strike. 

The arms are bent almost in a praying mantis style, and the person steps into the coming strike using their center thus maximizing their inertia. This same motion also combines flared elbows when in close to stop further movement.

From this position Rios showed the students how staying in motion was important. He showed that by stepping around the assailant while still holding their arm from the initial clench move. 

Then simply pushing forward on the attacker and clearing them from being in close. From there he said that it was time to either run away or yell for help.

One of the things that Rios said was important to remember was that learning martial arts or defense was to get help get rid of insecurities people may have. 

He said that sometimes people feel that simply running or even yelling for assistance is not masculine. Rios said that was furthest from the truth.

RAZA Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructors teach community classes Saturdays at ELAC. Erica De Leon from ELAC Community Services said that RAZA’s class was open to kids and adults. 

For more information on classes in community services visit K5-102 Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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