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Expecting the unexpected; teaching at-risk nepali girls brazilian jiu-jitsu

Upon first arrival, I was bemused.  The zig and zag of traffic in and out of dust filled lanes, the constant beep beeps, amazed there were zero accidents that I could see, just a cloud of dust floating over the barely paved narrow roadways. Trash scattered the streets and sidewalks, electric wires stretched between the buildings, resembling the way you’d expect a mouse to compose it’s sprawling nest like clusters, everyone trying to sell you their nifty trinket or give you a ride to some tourist attraction –usually a shrine of some sort, the Russian Roulette of concerning food that may or may not make you sick to your stomach for a day or two.

None of the above would tell the full story.

What I honestly expected was a certain amount of danger, deceit, subversion, crime, rape… You know things we expect to see in large cities or in poorer regions of the world. Although I’m positive it happens; in fact it was just reported as I write this, one of the schools in the area we were teaching had its principal of 2 decades murdered for reasons currently unknown.

In contrast, what I witnessed was kindness in abundance. From the poor mountain villages, to the slightly larger but poorer mountain towns, the bus stops, the airports, the restaurants, the large cities, from East to West, North to South. Despite the reason for this long long journey; preventing child trafficking, which 9 times out of 10 results in child prostitution, what unexpectedly unfolded before my eyes was the depth of character of the Nepalese. It’s like clockwork programming, embedded in their DNA, to be the most genuine, exude helpfulness and a willingness to make sure you are OK, the complete absence of ill will, devoid of anger or mistrust.

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There’s obviously something dark and slimy lurking in such a generous and helpful society, like a leech.  It would take many more trips to confirm, however, it’s my speculation that this darkness that thrives on and takes advantage of scarcity, has foreign roots and isn’t born of native soil. Nonetheless, it sucks on the lives of the precious and kind, who’ve already been dealt of tough blow and heartache most will never know, from the recent earthquakes. Anyone who takes advantage of the innocent when they’re at their most vulnerable is an infection that’s nastier and more malicious than any virus.

There’s a lot to process being from the US and visiting a country like Nepal.  Everywhere you look, there are unfinished, but in progress construction and rebuilding projects, evidence of both the Nepalese hard work ethics, and the depth of devastation that they’ve faced in recent years.  What I’m constantly reminded of is despite the overwhelming hardships they’ve faced as a country, is their refined and glowing hot character.

My mind continues to come back to this one lingering picture –if we who are awakened and self-aware can somehow merge the many desirable things we in the West have in abundance with the quality of character and resilience the Nepalese have in abundance, Picasso couldn’t paint a brighter future for human legacy.

For the adventurous, stay in Nepal for a little while and what you find is truly spiritual and goes far far beyond what the eyes can see. It’s like warp speed for the heart.

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We spent three days teaching at two different schools in the Nuwakot District of Nepal, which is about 10 hours by jeep from Kathmandu.  Keep in mind that three days, which were available for us to teach, is NOT enough time for anyone to learn Gracie Jiu-jitsu.
For perspective, it takes 10-15 years of regular weekly training to earn a Black belt, equivalent to the amount of time that goes into earning a doctorate degree in college.  I myself didn’t feel confident in my abilities until after three and a half years when I earned my Blue belt. Now after almost 9 years later, I’m very comfortable in my understanding of self defense, specifically making sense of the basics and filtering out any of the extra and unnecessary “fluff” that makes learning and teaching harder.Experience and practicing is one thing, but teaching and having a curriculum is another.  To get advice, I called up one of my friends, a Gracie who has been training Jiu-jitsu his entire life and competed in world championship tournaments in his family’s art (the Gracie’s are the family who created Brazilian/Gracie Jiu-jitsu).  In full disclosure, he warned me of the consequences and additional harm the at-risk girls could face, if they’re not able to successfully replicate what they learned when they needed it for self-defense, and that my time might be better spent helping reduce their risks via other non-violent methods.

Remembering our belief, that all women deserve the right to learn to protect themselves, I felt the risk was worth it. We would just have to work harder to simplify the program enough, so that there was very little to “memorize.”   We had to come up with a simple and replicable curriculum, regardless of the language barrier and the girls experience learning martial arts.

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Kate and I spent most of 2018 teaching women’s self defense in Denver, and we spent a weekend preparing for the trip at my friend’s Jiu-jitsu school in Waco Texas, called Select Jiu-jitsu.  My friend was a big help because he has a keen understanding of simplifying Jiu-jitsu for self-defense and in a way that works well for women and especially children.

​Armed with a simplified and effective curriculum, one that taught the basics of self defense in an intuitive way, we felt we were ready for the challenge. The small groups of girls we taught at the schools were very receptive, and we did not stop drilling the techniques until we felt they understood and could produce the intended results.  We also spoke with the teachers to block out some time each week for the girls to drill what they were learning and create a Girls Defense Club.

Since leaving Nepal, it has been important for us to reach out to the teachers and set aside time personally to record future teaching videos for the girls to practice new techniques and continue to grow what they’ve been learning.  Before leaving, I tried to emphasize and encourage the girls to continue to learn, and for the teachers to block out time for the girls to practice. I believe the Nepali people of the Nuwakot District saw the value in what we came to teach and want to continue to learn, and that makes me very hopeful that we made a difference.


Author

Tim Ray Bearden and Kate Green accepted the adventure to travel for more than 24 hours to Nepal in order to teach Gracie Jiu-jitsu self defense to the girls who are at most risk of being abducted into the sex trade industry. This is likely a centuries old epidemic that has been emboldened since the recent devastating earthquakes. Often times the ones responsible are at the highest of the country’s leadership and even trusted friends of the family.  When women aren’t able to trust their government or families and when their local law enforcement is unequipped to provide safety, it is our belief that women everywhere deserve the right to know how to defend themselves.

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