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Gracie Barra Leaders Meet to Discuss Sexual Harassment in Martial Arts

GB Students First Webinar

It’s Our Responsibility to Educate Ourselves about Self-Defense, Sexual Harassment & Prevention

On Friday March 8th 2013, GB leaders from across the world met to discuss the issues of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and the importance of education on these topics. First, we would like to thank Tom Callos for taking his time to join us to discuss the importance of these topics. Tom works in the martial arts community as one of the leading advocates of prevention and safety in the jiu-jitsu community.

Gracie Barra PreventionThe recent incidents that have rattled the martial arts community can happen anywhere to anybody. That’s why it is imperative to educate everyone about sexual harassment and prevention at our schools. These are by far the most critical issues and we need to look when discussing student safety. We need to look at what we can do to prevent these types of incidents from happening in our schools and we need to take measures to create a safe environment for everybody.

With almost 400 GB schools worldwide we have a huge responsibility on our hands and an amazing power to raise standards for instruction all over the world. Gracie Barra Association exists with one of the main roles being the protection of our brand and reputation. We need to make our instructors conscious about how to strengthen procedures to protect our students and ourselves.

Tom Callos GB Webinar

Tom Callos

Tom Callos discussed these topics in detail in the webinar and has been looking forward to the day when teachers would bring up content that is beyond just making money. Hearing instructors who have a vision and influence represents worldwide movement and to see that GB is embracing education is great. Education is defense. Tom mentions “Knowing what is potentially dangerous and how to avoid those things is self-defense. Taking measures to stop it before it could happen is self-defense.”

Tom also discussed that educating yourself on these issues is an ongoing process that reveals itself as you practice. This webinar should permeate how we talk about our schools and the dialogue we have at our staff meetings.

“These things should be in our dialogue as an equal proportion or rate as any other topic. Dialogue about ethics in any form is a type of defense. The more you delve into the subject the more they should become a part of our instruction.”

We have a responsibility as teachers to educate about self-defense. Tom mentions, “I think GB is the first major organization to take this bull by the horns and deal with it.”

Tom continued his discussion by talking about our treatment of these issues and how they are vital to the organization. For example, what happens in Tokyo or Maryland casts a shadow on all of us. It insinuates that we are not who we say we are. We can’t stop people from doing certain things, but we can take a stand. Our dialogue about ethics must be translated into words and images and examples. It’s not enough to know about these issues. Every member needs to put these thoughts onto a computer or in writing. The more you talk about it the more examples you have to offer and how you can talk about it to others. This gives you insight into how to embrace the ideas and how these things are also relevant to jiu jitsu.

Risk Management

On the topic of risk management, Tom asked the question what is the definition of risk management? “Risk management is a process that shows the organization has done due diligence before an event could occur. Everybody needs to know that the things we can prevent, we have taken steps to prevent.” For anyone looking to gather more knowledge on these issues, he recommends Google Alerts. This allows you to get notices about current issues to stay aware of  and a reminder that you need to teach your students about prevention. Every instructor must take it on him or herself to self-educate. “We need to learn to be as articulate on these issues as we are to jiu jitsu”

GB Ethics Council

In an effort to take steps to further the education and prevention of these issues Gracie Barra has started the GB Ethics Council, which will lead any projects related to these GB Ethics Councilsubjects. The council is very action oriented. The first things to tackle are policies and procedures related to sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Holly Reusing, Mike Buckles and Tom Reusing have already joined the council but Prof. Flavio & Prof. Felipe encourage everyone inside GB to join and take part in helping develop ways to comply and implement standards in our schools

Prevention Suggestions

Prof. Felipe was on the call to discuss sexual harassment and sexual abuse prevention suggestions. He now has a document which is available for everyone. These situations could happen between anybody, so having prevention education and suggestions on how to deal with these issues before they occur is critical. The sexual harassment and sexual abuse prevention suggestions document will be available at the GB library and all of the GB Schools will receive an email with this document and recording of the webinar. Felipe recommends getting this document and reading it so you are familiar with these suggestions. Call a staff meeting so everybody in your school is taking the steps to educate themselves.

Recommendations & Useful Tools

In closing Prof. Flavio noted that we need to make this knowledge just as important as chokes and arm bars.

“Ethics is the underlying moral foundation that dictates the ultimate level of everything that you do on a daily basis. If the discussion of ethics is marginal, that does not say good things about our personal ethics and philosophy. If all we think about is techniques to get better results in tournaments and business without holding ourselves accountable to high moral standards, our future will not be too long and all we built could be washed away by an unexpected event.” – Flavio Almeida

Tom also closes by mentioning a couple of tools that could be useful to check out. The first is a movie by Jonathan Katz called “Tough Guise” about hyper masculinity. The second recommendation is to check out the website The 100 which is a think-tank library and meeting place for owners, teachers, and staff. It’s a great tool to create an ongoing dialogue.

Thank you again to Tom, our panelists, and everyone who attended. We hope that this was helpful. Please utilize these tools and make the education on these topics a habit at your school so prevention can occur before incidents happen.

One response to “Gracie Barra Leaders Meet to Discuss Sexual Harassment in Martial Arts”

  1. Cathy J Robison says:

    I could not agree more with the importance of having this conversation not only because of the event that reflect poorly on our chosen passion, but because we as individuals can better serve ourselves and others through such circumspection. Gender issues in regards to sexual harassment and sexual abuse is not such a lite topic. It certainly was not one that I was interested in having. But as the sole female voice in the academy, the fathers, brothers and boyfriends I trained with wanted to know how they could better support their loved ones. They wanted female loved ones in their life to feel safe and confident in the their bodies and heaven forbid should they ever find themselves in a situation they wanted them to be able to protect themselves. I learned to listen to what men had to say and in turn I tried to explain what messages I was given as a woman. This had a profound effect in the academy. When working with woman I really just wanted them to feel safe enough to learn the techniques because once they discovered the efficacy of the techniques they discovered how truly powerful they really are. In turn they could take responsibility for their own safety. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity. C.J. Robison, Blackbelt Gracie Barra Santa Fe New Mexico

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