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Instructor Jesus Gayton teaches Caitlin Edwards while Instructor Stephanie Hill coaches. / Laura Austin Photo

Women’s self-defense workshop on Saturday, April 6

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–    High Desert Fitness and Gracie Allegiance Ridgecrest (Gracie) are partnering to provide their Women’s Self-Defense Workshop on Saturday, April 6th, from 12 noon to 2 pm at 901 North Heritage Drive. The fee is $10. You can show up or register in advance by calling 760-377-7417.

Stephanie Hill and Jesus Gaytan, instructors from Gracie, will lead the workshop. Hill says to wear clothes that you can move around in.  “ I would say not too baggy. Not too loose but good clothes to move around in because you’re going to be moving around on the ground. Normally, when we do jiu-jitsu, we either wear a Gi or No-Gi. The GI is basically the kimono that we wear.” Don’t worry about shoes; they will be removed for hygienic purposes and to protect the mats.

Once on the mat, time will be spent getting women used to being in close proximity to each other. “A lot of women, when they come to something like this, they’re not going to initially want to get in each other’s space, and you have to warm them up to the idea of gradually getting them in each other’s space.”

During this period, participants will be warming up their bodies by doing “movements that are jiu-jitsu based that are going to help us with the later techniques, but they’re solitary movements.  Then, we start with small movements of touching.  We would begin with a wrist grab, like in this situation, somebody grabs your wrist. How do you get out of this?” Then they will cover “What to look for, somebody starts to come up into your space. Those are things you should begin to be aware of as they start to enter your bubble.”

The instructors gradually introduce participants to getting closer and closer and then touching each other, leading to “intertwining.” Eventually, the work gets on the floor. “We’ll move into more of a ground game where once it goes from a standing situation, how it gets to a ground game, and then the ground game is where the movements that we practiced at the beginning come into play because in order to move in this situation, you have to learn to move. It’s kind of a gradual effect.”

This writer attended a self-defense class a few years ago, and a lot of time was spent scaring you into knowing you needed their products. In contrast, Hill says, “We all know what’s out there. But the hope is, rather than scaring the women into not wanting to go out and live their lives, the hope is to empower them to know, ‘This is a possibility, but I can control what I’m doing to empower the situation more than not knowing.’ And that’s the hope.

“High Desert Fitness is sponsoring it, and we are coming in as a new business and a new player within the community to get together with High Desert Fitness. But it is essentially Brandon Temple. This was his idea of bringing a self-defense seminar to the community.”

Temple, Operator and Co-Owner of High Desert Fitness and 760 Fitness, says, “It was something that we were interested in doing for quite some time. We just needed individuals with the necessary background and experience to conduct a workshop like it. We’re really excited about it because we feel like it’s obviously a need, and it’s kind of an underserved need. Especially here, we don’t really have a self-defense workshop on a regular basis. So we’re really excited for it. And we’re hoping that it goes smoothly.”

Hill says of Gracie, “We are affiliated under a well-known black belt, Clark Gracie. He is down in San Diego and he has affiliates all over the world. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was basically brought to the United States by the Gracie family from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They’re the ones who took Japanese jiu-jitsu and formed it into something that wasn’t so much strength-based, but it was leveraged-based, and they changed it into more of a self-defense practice and skill set. They brought it to the United States as a family. Anybody who’s been around jiu-jitsu kind of knows that the Gracie family is the royalty of jiu-jitsu.”

You can find Gracie Allegiance Ridgecrest on Facebook. They hold classes six days per week for kids and adults. Women’s classes are Tuesday and Saturday. Monday through Friday are evening classes, and Saturday is daytime classes starting with women at 9 a.m. They are across the street from Marshalls at 643 North China Lake Boulevard. You can pay per class, $15, or by the month. During the month of April, they are offering a discounted monthly price that you can continue month-by-month.

Hill and Gayton are passionate about self-defense. “Both of us have a pretty extensive background in jiu-jitsu. Jesus has a large background in self-defense and martial arts in general. He’s got three black belts in standing self-defense and martial arts modalities. He wanted a ground game to complement the standing game because we know that when you fight, or if something happens, the reality is that most of the time, the standing goes to the ground. That’s where jiu-jitsu comes in. And ultimately, that’s why he joined jiu-jitsu. That’s why I joined jiu-jitsu. I didn’t need a way to defend myself, but I felt like I needed to learn how to defend myself. And after doing some research, I settled on jiu-jitsu.”

Gracie is holding a Grand Opening on May 4; the exact time is yet to be determined. “Our affiliate head, Clark Gracie, is going to come up. He’s going to introduce himself and his affiliation, and we’re going to have a bunch of things available for people who want to know more about jiu-jitsu. It will be more or less a party promoting the school.”