MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown County will host quarterly self-defense classes aimed at teaching victims how to handle themselves against an attacker. The classes will involve the use of Jiu-Jitsu, one of the oldest forms of martial arts. Jiu-Jitsu has become a national past time in countries like Brazil and is a prominent discipline in the world of mixed martial arts. In recent years it has also been recognized as one of the most effective ways to defend against sexual assault.
"The benefits are huge and there's so many, but I think the most important, the biggest is to take your confidence back," said instructor Elton Cruz.
Cruz is a multi-time all-Asia and all-Japan world champion who now teaches at Martial Arts 360 in Myrtle Beach. Five-time world champion and Brazilian black belt Ivaniel Oliveira was also brought in to host the class.
"When you have some kind of problem like this and some situation, people take away your power. They take away your confidence. So the most important thing is to take your life back."
The class went over several demonstrations using little to no strength, but instead using leverage and technique to escape or subdue would-be attackers.
"This was my very first class ever doing Jiu-Jitsu and the thing that most impressed me about it was that I can just use my body, I don't have to have a lot of brute strength, and you can still accomplish escapes. You can still defend yourself effectively without weapons, without even being a terribly violent person," said first-timer and Rape Crisis Center member Ashley. "It was very empowering for a lot of them to know that they could execute these moves effectively and see the strength in their own bodies."
Cruz says the most important aspect of the course is to teach victims self-confidence by taking back control over their own bodies.
"You can see the confidence building back in the person. So that kind of feeling when you see the student who has never stepped on the mat before with this kind of feeling in their eyes, that kind of emotion...that's why we're here," Cruz added.
The crisis center will also hold yoga classes to help lower stress and will be holding a walk next Saturday in downtown Myrtle Beach for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.