I’ve been having a hard time with jiu jitsu lately. Ever since someone violated me as I stood in a crowd, I haven’t been able to deal with being in such close space with someone.
I’ve tried to train twice since that day someone helped himself to my body, and with tragic results. I was still in shock the first day I trained. Luckily I was partnered with another woman, and one who I consider a dear friend. She noticed my energy was off that day, and my head space wasn’t as clear. The second day I tried to return to the mat, I broke down in tears when I was partnered with a man I never met before. He would have been a great partner on any other day, but I couldn’t deal with having a male stranger on such close space to me. I haven’t tried training since that day.
Tony, you were such a great ally to those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. You went toe to toe with powerful men accused of such horrible acts, from Harvey Weinstein to Bill Clinton. You are an example of how men should support us. After all, silence and complacency is just as bad.
It’s been two weeks since my last training attempt and I finally feel like I may be ready to train again. I’m fortunate that I’ve had a great support system from my coaches and training partners. If it weren’t for them, I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable enough to go back to this sport.
And off the mat, I’ve had friends and allies help me through this tough time. Of course, there has been a small chorus of people in my life outside of jiu jitsu whose responses were inadequate or dismissive. Those responses—or lack thereof—have been more painful than the offending action itself. But the people standing with me have drowned out those voices. Tony, your outspoken voice denouncing predatory behaviors may have been what helped give those allies the courage they needed to support me. It breaks my heart that we no longer have you on the front lines with us. Your legacy of doing the right thing will remain. You helped give me hope throughout this ugly point in my life, and I appreciate that.