Hi! You either know me personally, through music/bands, professionally or through martial arts. Or you know someone that knows me through one of those channels. Anyways, I do brazilian jiu jitsu. Maybe you knew that about me, maybe you didn't. Either way, you're reading this, and I'm asking you to donate money for participating in a 24 hour sparring session, so here's why:
Earlier this year a woman who trains in brazilian jiu jitsu was raped by two of her team mates. This caused something of an argument within the bjj community, because it appeared that the person in charge of that team was attempting to save face first (by googlebombing his name off the front page of google), make money second (by advertising rape prevention seminars linked to the googlebombing) and turned out to have quite a sketchy past (acquitted of rape in college with a defence that he was unable to perform the act). All this created a minor storm on the internet, and, in the end, none of that changed the fact that two men raped a woman that they trained with.
I think one of the reasons that it caused a storm is that it challenged a lot of BJJ practitioners' deeply held beliefs about BJJ and martial arts. For instance, the idea that practising martial arts will make you a better person (it won't, at least not automatically), also, BJJ has the concept of teams, training partners and instructors deeply woven into its identity: most of us training regularly will be sparring with our training partners 3-5 times a week, or more, instructors are held up to be paragons of virtue, etc etc. Furthermore, when you do a martial art like BJJ, the fundamental element of trust is hard to understate: you trust them not to break your arm/shoulder/knee/neck and to release chokes that could kill you when you are in no position to prevent them from doing so. I think it's safe to say that if you trust someone not to maim you or kill you, then you trust them not to rape you, either. In that context, it's quite easy to see why a highly-publicised story of rape challenged many, if not all, of those core beliefs, and led to some introspection.
The BJJ community is not made up of saints. There is, for example, plenty of latent homophobia, sexism and so on to go around. Anyone that has trained for any length of time will have met unsavoury characters, outright nutjobs, and people whose views they find offensive. However, when news got out about a woman getting raped, it was quite heartening to see that 99.99% of us were on the same side: rape is one of the worst things that a human being can do to another, and there is no way to reduce that fact. The reason this even had to be said was that, unfortunately, 0.01% of BJJ practitioners are complete morons. Some people in the UK, however, decided to go one step further, and turn our mutual disgust and outrage into something positive, including Can, who is organising a 24 hour grappling session, here's the details from him:
I was appalled when I read that a woman had been raped by two of her team mates earlier this year. I would like to turn the strong feelings about that incident towards something positive.
We will therefore be grappling for 24 hours starting at 09:00 on Saturday 4th May 2013, trying to raise as much as possible for Rape Crisis. They work to increase awareness about the prevalance of sexual violence, press for change and support survivors.
Please spare whatever you can (JustGiving works outside the UK too) to help make a positive change. You can also donate via text message, by texting GRAP54 £1 to 70070.
So, that's why I'm asking you to donate money. It's for a good cause, and, I think, we're doing it for the right reasons (aka not trying to get a free parachute jump). Apparently the event will be streamed live on the internet, so if you're one of my friends, you can laugh at me getting beaten up. Actually, the entire internet can, but hey, them's the breaks. I don't have a set target because I don't think charity should be about targets, minimum spends and so on. Please give what you can to help out!