Self-Defense: The Art of Fighting Back


    BUSAN, South Korea — As a jiu-jitsu instructor, my favorite moment of every class is seeing my students’ faces light up as they realize their true power and control. A little leverage and technique can give anyone this power, regardless of size or strength. I still remember what one of my students, Tegan McDonough, said to me before she moved back to America: that my class completely changed her life. It was the best and only payment I would ever ask for.

    Whenever we hear stories about women facing violence, sexual or otherwise, our very human reaction almost always resembles, “I wish I had been there to help.” This is a wonderfully compassionate sentiment, but, as a man with a daughter and four younger sisters, I finally reached the point where that protective feeling became a poison to me—too many ugly stories were being told, while I wasn’t there and I couldn’t help, so what good was it wishing over and over that I had been? Instead, the question evolved into, “What can I do to help?” The answer was simple—I’d been training and fighting since I was just a kid. I could teach women to do what I regretted being unable to do myself.

    For nearly six months, women in Busan have been gathering at a jiu-jitsu and MMA gym near Kyungsung University, where they’ve learned how to elbow, block, kick, throw, take down, escape from and even viciously injure anyone who attacks or puts them in a situation where they feel they have no alternative but to fight. The curriculum consists of some techniques that we use in actual MMA and cage fighting, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, military pressure point training and some universal techniques designed and taught specifically for women’s self defense.

    In the half-year I’ve been teaching, I’ve witnessed each class grow larger than the last. Some women return time after time, while others come only once or twice; a few have even started training in jiu-jitsu or kickboxing on a daily basis at various gyms around the city.

    Although the donation requested per class is 10,000 won, of which half goes to the gym for three hours of privacy on a Sunday afternoon, and the other half is donated to the Sae Gil Women’s Shelter. I don’t do this to make money, but I can think of few ways to better invest a few hours of my Sunday once a month. I hope that anyone who wants to meet some inspiring and powerful women, all while having fun learning something truly valuable, will come join us.

    For more info you can contact Vince at

    Self-defense photos courtesy of



    HQ bar