Jiu-Jitsu Gives Women Strength for Safety

By Emily Breeland


Staff Writer

It’s 8:00 p.m. and class has just ended. Students file out into
the darkness, walking to different parking lots. As the last
student leaves the classroom and makes the long walk to her
vehicle, she hears a rustle. In the bushes, something stirs. By the
time she turns around, it’s too late.

Full-time students at Cal Poly have a good chance of taking an
evening class, which means walking to their cars alone after
sunset. For many students, especially females, the idea itself is

“I’ve taken a lot of classes at night,” said Patty Alvarado, a
fifth-year communications student. “Last quarter, I got out of
class at nine. I never had anyone to walk with, so I’d call people
to feel more secure. It was extremely dark and scary.”

According to Cal Poly Pomona’s University Police statistics, one
aggravated assault, 53 burglaries and 33 stolen vehicles were
reported in 2005 alone.

“When I had an evening class, I was afraid because campus isn’t
very brightly lit, especially to lot F. If you park up in lot J,
it’s also really dark,” said Kaylyn Arnold, a third-year
communications student. “I didn’t like leaving.”

A solution some students find to help pacify this fear is to
take self-defense training to better prepare themselves in the case
of an attack.

“I’ve taken Tae Kwon Do for fourteen years now. I’m a second
degree black belt, working on my third, so I can handle myself,”
said Cal Poly fourth-year animal science student, Angela Mitzner.
“I definitely recommend women, especially petite women, to get some
kind of martial arts training.”

Total Zen, a martial arts studio that specializes in Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu self defense, advertises in the Poly Post so that
students who feel unsafe have a resource to better equip themselves
for potentially dangerous situations.

“To me, this is the perfect art for females to learn because in
situations where women are attacked, many are overpowered and
jiu-jitsu is for those who don’t have a ton of strength,” said
Albert Alvarado, head instructor at Total Zen.

Also known as “BJJ,” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport that
focuses on ‘ground fighting’ with the ultimate goal of gaining a
dominant position.

Using leverage and body mechanics, people of all strengths can
benefit from the art.

Alvarado, a four stripe purple belt, had the privilege of
training under Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s creator, Grand Master Helio

Though most classes are open to both sexes, Alvarado says that
Total Zen is in the middle of developing a class just for

“Basically, it’s a women-empowered program where women can come
in, sign up and take a six month course,” said Alvarado. “Women can
come in once a week and learn different types of self defense.
We’re gearing the program toward young women, especially.”

The subject of women feeling empowered is close to Alvarado’s
own heart. Though none of his female Jiu-Jitsu students have voiced
concerns about safety on campus, Alvarado’s cousin, once a
university student, was scared to walk to her car late at

Students, children and adults interested in learning the art of
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can contact Alvarado at (626) 483-1228 or
access TotalZen’s Web site at www.totalzen.net.

Emily Breeland can be reached by e-mail at arts@thepolypost.com
or by phone at (909) 869-3744.

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