This is the fifteenth profile in our Society Nine Storytellers
series where badass female fighters across all sports, media and culture in our community share their definitions of femininity, strength and empowerment and discuss what they fight for.
Have a story to tell? Email us at email@example.com
– tell us who you are, a little bit about your journey and what you fight for – in life and sport.
Have you ever hit something? I don’t mean have you ever slapped something, or pushed something, or flicked your hand out in imitation of a punch. I mean have you ever hit something? Have you ever cocked your body like the hammer of a pistol, felt the ignition of gunpowder from the depths of your bowels, exploded the ammunition of a clenched fist straight as a bullet until it lands devastatingly solid with every cell and fiber of your being behind it? Blinding, violent, and gorgeous like a supernova? The first time you feel it your brain has a mini stroke. “Whoa. What the fuck was that?” it asks. And you reply. “That was me. Yes, that was me.” It’s the true definition of what it means to be alive wrapped up in a hundredth of a second. And it changes people. All people. Even self-proclaimed pacifists. If you are a woman it will change you fundamentally, softly stoking the smoldering embers of something old, primal, elemental. It’s in you from a bygone era, just blanketed and hidden and suffocated either by what you believe you shouldn’t be, by what you’re told you’re not, or by what you think you aren’t. In an age of empowerment it’s the undeniable proof that you don’t need anyone or anything to give you power. It’s there. In you. Already. And THAT is why I do what I do. The opportunity to coax that, sometimes like a lamb, other times like a lion, out of a woman; to see that moment when she experiences it for herself for the very first time; like a hundred million lightbulbs going off at once. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed and I get to see it again, and again, and again. And every time I watch it happen to someone else, I relive the moment that it happened to me. I took a Krav Maga class by accident. Well, not entirely by accident. I was pressured into taking it by my mom who insisted I learn how to defend myself. I was fresh out of college, and right in the midst of a lengthy laundry list of self-destructive and dangerous disorders from casual drug use, to not so casual bulimia, from debilitating anxiety, to a period of several years when I cut myself every 2 weeks from ankle to hip with a paring knife. Different people struggle for different reasons, but my demons stalked me into young adulthood from a childhood weighed down by an all-encompassing powerlessness. Powerless to keep my father living with us. Powerless to convince my physician mother to come home from work. Responsible for a younger sister but never equipped with the necessary skills to care for her. Committed to doing the best that I could, but convinced that I was constantly on the verge of some apocalyptic mistake.
For me, the realization of personal power through that very first closed fist to pad contact, in that very first Krav Maga class, quite literally saved my life. It was a means for me to come to terms with my rage in a constructive way; it was a means for me to begin the journey of leaving a damaged and outdated version of myself behind, and step into a profound trust in my ability to survive the darkest of moments. Because that’s what this training really is, at all levels. Fun, sure. Fitness, sure. But at the core, it’s putting you in the darkest of moments and watching as you prove to yourself that you are powerful enough to overcome it all. It won’t be easy, it won’t be pretty. But you are powerful enough to overcome it all.
Jarrett Arthur is the founder and chief instructor of M.A.M.A.® (Mothers Against Malicious Acts), Customized Self-Defense for Women, and other specialized self-defense programs for women, children, and childcare givers. She is one of the highest-ranking female Krav Maga black belt instructors in the United States. Jarrett’s passion is customizing her self-defense training and education programs to most effectively benefit the emotional, physical, and personal wants and needs of the women and children she works with.
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