Jiu Jits-who? Jiu Jitsu! Meg D'Elia '14 on Empowerment through Martial Arts

My sister Meg D'Elia graduated from St Mike’s in 2014. During her time here she was a BioChem Major and captain of the rescue squad her junior year. She has always been very outgoing, enjoying activities like skydiving and Spartan Races. She is currently in graduate school at Boston University working toward a degree in Public health. 10169222_10201901200038793_2069802062270574483_n.jpg


During her junior year of college she found herself needing an outlet for stress relief. Having played sports throughout her life up until college she found UFAI, the United Fighting Arts Institute, about 10 minutes from campus.


UFAI is the “largest and most complete multi-style martial arts training facility in Vermont. We boast very knowledgeable & caring instructors, top of the line training floor & equipment, a professional size elevated competition ring and much more!”. And better yet,  one of our campus PubSafety officers is even an instructor there! They offer classes in Traditional Muay Thai Kickboxing, Combat Sports, Jiu Jitsu (Gi and No Gi), Adult Taekwondo, VWA Wrestling, Precision Boxing and Kajukenbo. Meg participates in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and MMA (mixed martial arts). UFAI even offers a 20% college discount for all classes. To get a sense of what the gym is like take a look at this video from the local WCAX News, http://www.wcax.com/story/31051959/jui-jutsu-with-keith-and-ali


Once we got some background information on martial arts, we sat down with Meg to talk to her aobut her experience.  Here’s what Meg had to say about training, self defense, and empowerment.


HC: Did fighting make you feel any more confident, safe, etc? Can you explain these changes?

MD: I first began to feel physical changes, just like being in better shape and wanting to eat healthier foods, but then I started to notice that I felt much more emotionally and mentally stable. I rarely got bothered by little things and stress melted away. As I continued on in the sport, I started to feel like I could protect myself if I ever had to and I had a new confidence in myself. It was so empowering to be able to train with men twice my size and learn techniques that could keep me safe.


HC: Did it make you feel empowered because of the physical changes in your body or more mental changes?

MD: I felt more empowered because of mental and physical changes. Physically, I was simply in better shape and my body could do things that I never knew I could. Mentally, I gained a little peace of mind knowing that I had knowledge and skills to protect myself in a bad situation. My mental state was also improved by the family atmosphere at the gym where I trained, and that added support system away from the bubble that was college was incredibly helpful. I always felt safe and like I had people who would support me in life as a whole.


HC: Why do you think it is important for women to know self defense or participate in classes like you do?

MD: I think women should participate in self defense classes or in sports such as MMA for their personal benefit, but also for women as a whole. So often women are taught things like "don't wear revealing clothes" or "wear something you can run in, unlike stilettos", when in reality they should be taught something empowering like self defense. This isn't to say that knowing these skills is some sort of invisible barrier that will protect someone from violence, but having the knowledge might encourage women to stand up for themselves or their friends and families. Not to mention, women who take a proactive approach to protecting themselves are incredible role models. There is no reason women can't know how to throw a punch that could break someone's nose or to snap someone's arm who is attempting to hold them down. Women are just as powerful as men, and participating in things like this could help to prove that empowerment to themselves.


HC: Would you recommend other girls try this?

MD: YES!!! Other women should absolutely give this a try, whether it is to get in amazing shape or to feel more empowered and confident.


HC: What type of people can try this?

MD: Anyone can do this. No matter your gender, race, experience, etc.


Watching my sister train and compete has shown me how empowering martial arts can be. Knowing that she has the ability to take down people easily twice as big as her is insanely badass. Even if we can’t control the people around us it is important to know that we can control how we react to potentially dangerous situations. Martial arts can be a great way to learn how to protect yourself, improve your physical health, blow off steam and have fun! Just because we are women does not mean we need to be weak or passive, my sister is proof of this.





Image Sources:

Image 4: http://www.ufai.net/forms-and-fees-and-programs/