View Full Version : "Come to the bloodbath,"

July 22, 2002, 01:16 PM
Copyright 2002 The Deseret News Publishing Co.
The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)

July 19, 2002, Friday


LENGTH: 636 words

HEADLINE: In self-defense

BYLINE: By Susan WhitneyDeseret News staff writer

"Come to the bloodbath," said Julie Adams. "The bloodbath begins at 1 on Saturday."

It's an invitation too compelling to ignore. So you arrive at the Muay Thai Institute in time for the final exam in a self-defense class taught by Adams. You walk in on a room full of women. Some of them have never done martial arts before, and others are students of Muay Thai at this studio. Under Adams' guidance, they've spent two days toughening their attitude and practicing their punches.

Now they are going to get a chance to fight off an attacker. They are going to fight as hard as they can.

They will yell and hit and elbow. They will kick the attacker in the groin, then grab his head and yank it down and drive a knee straight up into his face. When he falls, they'll keep kicking him until he stops trying to get up.

The men who will be the attackers prepare for the bloodbath by donning football gear. They put a padded outfit over the top of that. Their ensemble is called the bullet suit.

As it turns out, the bullet suit protects perfectly, and no one bleeds. No one bleeds physically, that is. But the bloodbath is surprisingly emotional for the women. Fighting all-out, even in this staged situation, feels unexpectedly primal and real.

The bloodbath begins with a reminder from Adams. "Constant attack. Go for any body part."

Then the first woman steps out on the padded floor. The attacker grabs her from behind. She whirls. Her elbow flies. The others yell encouragement "Grab, step, elbow . . . harder, harder, knock him out." Within a minute he's on the ground, and she's backing away. Her eyes shift between him and the far corners of the room. She watches for another assailant as she escapes.

Adams praises her. "That was a rockin' knee."

Another woman comes to the mat. She lies down and pretends to sleep while a bullet man sneaks up. He grabs her throat. She grabs his arms and rolls sideways as her onlookers yell, "Kick, kick, knee, knee . . . "

When their turns end, the women try to shake off the tension. One clutches her stomach. Another cries. "He wouldn't go down," says one woman. "He wouldn't go down."

Watching them fight, you see how hard it is, and how empowering. You begin to wonder how it feels to be a Thai boxer, headed into the ring for a no-holds-barred match, willing to be hurt and to hurt someone. Does fighting full-out in the ring feel the same as fighting full-out in the streets?

Of course, it is possible to practise Muay Thai for years and never fight an actual bout, as Muay Thai students will tell you. When you are a student, you never use all your force, explains Cristina Collins, who has taken Muay Thai for several months. Students spar, yes. But in a sparring match, you and your opponent agree beforehand on what moves you will use and how hard you will kick. A certain amount of restraint is implied.

Collins signed up for this self-defense class because she wanted a chance to fight all-out. She wanted to put herself and her Muay Thai to the test.

It was scary, she says. Though she knew someone would attack her, she didn't know what moves he would use. She didn't know how she'd react.

Even some of the people in the fight class at the Muay Thai Institute may only be in it for the exercise. When the fight instructor, Sakasem Kanthawong, asks if they'd like him to arrange a match, they decline. Adams says it's not just women who hesitate. Men also understand there is a huge difference between practising and fighting.

For Kayte Bergman, Muay Thai is the most intense workout she's ever known. "I like to be pushed," she says. Still, Bergman has sparred but has not fought. "I don't know if I ever will," she says. "It would be nice to get up to that level. But I'd have to feel comfortable first."

Standing Wolf
July 22, 2002, 11:27 PM
That's all well and good, to be sure, but personally, I'd have more faith in a .357 magnum.

July 22, 2002, 11:40 PM
When you have to...
Use what you have as well as you can.

Not everybody can pack.


July 23, 2002, 02:27 AM
"When he falls, they'll keep kicking him until he stops trying to get up."

See, that's the part that doesn't happen in real life. A nice gesture but a false sense of security for a woman who would be better off training with a weapon, or pepper mace.

July 23, 2002, 07:34 AM
Hmmm, how about "DON'T come to the bloodbath"?

July 23, 2002, 08:16 AM
The "Bullet Men" are also fighting with all of their strength and resolve, right? Sure, they are.... :rolleyes:

This type of thing is good for the students' attitude, confidence, etc., but it's not something to count on. Some assailants may retreat at the first sign of effective resistance. The rest get mad from realizing they're in a fight. :eek:

Being able to fight to get to your gun is probably a better plan.... :D

July 23, 2002, 09:26 AM
"When he falls, they'll keep kicking him until he stops trying to get up."

When he falls...........RUN!

July 23, 2002, 11:56 AM
Don't criticize too heavily. Some people cannot pack (as already has been mentioned), and this sort of training is much better than martial arts that do 'no contact' type sparring. Its not perfect, its not complete, but its a good thing to have experienced.