A Krav Maga studio in Austin is creating a safe place to train for unsafe situations

In a small gymnasium in North Austin, amidst the odor of sweat and the sound of swinging luggage, there are folks warming up.

There are about 15 folks of all ages, physiques and identities lined up on the mat, prepared to start out coaching. Many are new to martial arts whereas others are seasoned fighters, however one highly effective presence stands out.

Bug Lueckemeyer is the youngest and smallest particular person on the mat, however that did not cease them from becoming a member of them and hitting arduous. Lueckemeyer is 13 and had many causes to return. One purpose included having the ability to toss their good friend round.

“My finest good friend, who’s like a head shorter than me, was like, ‘Wager I can throw you over my shoulder’ and I used to be like, ‘Wager you possibly can’t,’ and he did,” Bug mentioned. . “And it is like, ‘Whoa, the place did you study that?’ After which he mentioned, ‘Krav Maga. And so I assumed, ‘I will take you again for this.'”

Bug’s mother, Jennifer Lueckemeyer, additionally attended the category. Collectively, the Lueckemeyers and the remainder of the individuals shuffled throughout the mat, stretched their our bodies, hit the pads with their knees, and discovered the way to “break the patriarchy.”

“Smashing the patriarchy” is a key a part of the Lions Krav Maga LGBTQIA+ Self Protection Workshop. The workshop goals to show folks completely different self-defense strategies and drills, the way to keep away from being grabbed or punched. Michaela Johnson, an assistant teacher at Lions who helps run a few of the workshops, mentioned that as a result of Krav Maga is a extra sensible type of martial arts, it permits the workshops to be frank concerning the violence.

Michaela Johnson is an assistant teacher at Lions Krav Maga. Courtesy of Sabrina Jones

“It is like a mixture of wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Taekwondo and Muay Thai… Like boxing and all that different stuff,” Johnson mentioned. “So it is largely performed simply to be extraordinarily sensible and on the aspect of taking good care of your physique and your autonomy. So it is very, very attention-grabbing for that path, like this contact model of self-protection.

Whereas Johnson mentioned the workshops embrace most of the conventional self-defense issues like drills, kicks, punches, and pad work, it is also loads to speak to one another.

“He is additionally working by means of feelings. We do not know what folks come into this constructing with and how much experiences and how much folks they know,” Johnson mentioned. nonetheless to be protected.”

This seminar wasn’t the primary time Lions have invited the LGBTQ+ neighborhood to find out about self-advocacy. Outdoors the gymnasium, within the nook of a window, sits a rainbow crest sticker earned by Lions Austin Police Division. That sticker, together with some coaching they’ve performed, legally designates Lions as a secure place for folks of all races, identities and sexual orientations.

“Actually, it is identical to a sticker on our window, proper? We have now to take that stroll. And there is most likely nowhere I really feel safer than this constructing in some ways,” Johnson mentioned. “Like emotionally secure and likewise insanely bodily secure.”

Since getting that sticker, Lions have hosted a number of workshops for various communities, together with one for girls and one other earlier this 12 months for The Q Austin, an arm of Vivent Well being devoted to empowering folks. queer. Johnson mentioned the necessary factor is to host workshops and donate proceeds to native organizations.

“That is just like the sort of neighborhood constructing that issues and that spreads out and helps folks really feel like they’ve allies, in essentially the most literal sense, like actually individuals who would struggle with you, you already know, individuals who will have the ability to assist and defend you and assist you already know your value,” Johnson mentioned.

The workshop lasted about an hour and a half of punches, palm strikes, knee strikes and enjoyable music. It additionally included plenty of associate work, workout routines, and video games that not solely allowed folks to attach with others within the class, but additionally had some enjoyable.

However regardless of the laughter and pop music, the category was nonetheless severe. Throughout the workshop, the music would reduce out and the laughter light as the teacher talked about calling 9-1-1 and the way the attackers will often be larger, higher ready, and stronger than the attendees.

“When somebody assaults you, sadly, likelihood is they’re larger, extra ready, have a weapon you do not have, have a plan you do not have, and also you’re dashing to catch up,” the lead teacher mentioned through the class.

Johnson mentioned having the ability to discuss violence on this manner helps folks be higher outfitted to defend themselves.

We’re attempting to acknowledge that this is not a recreation, proper? Prefer it’s one thing actually severe and that it is one thing that impacts folks on a regular basis and that we’re exercising for the worst day of your life,” Johnson mentioned. , whereas we additionally perceive that we’re in a secure house proper now, proper? For instance, proper now you might be working with folks you belief, you might be working with instructors you possibly can belief, and you might be working safely. So apply the discharge certain of the factor that isn’t certain.

He mentioned that for individuals who cannot disguise their identities in public areas, accepting that violence can occur may additionally make it simpler to occupy house on the planet.

for individuals who cannot keep away from that focus, it turns into a lot scarier to be in these sorts of public locations and to have the ability to acknowledge a harmful scenario and get out of it or do one thing about it earlier than it will get worse is essential to these folks,” he mentioned. mentioned Johnson.

For the Lueckemeyers, the seminar was not simply an opportunity to train collectively or study to make enjoyable of individuals. It was a possibility for each of them to really feel empowered. Particularly for Bug, who mentioned the gymnasium made them really feel welcome.

“It felt actually inclusive with LGBTQIA+ and I establish that manner, and I assumed that may be actually cool,” Bug mentioned.

Additionally, Bug mentioned it did not damage that The Q Austin gave out free goodies like buttons, pins, and purses on the finish of sophistication.

“I additionally suppose it was actually cool how they’d the canvas bag out entrance they usually gave me a canvas bag and I beloved it,” Bug mentioned.

However an important purpose Bug got here was to study to maintain himself.

“I feel it is actually necessary to learn to defend your self, particularly for the reason that world is getting, like, worse and worse when it comes to that,” Bug mentioned. “And likewise identical to my center college, it may be very violent and there are plenty of fights. And if one thing like this ever occurred to me, I would love to have the ability to defend myself.

Bug’s mother, Jennifer Lueckemeyer, mentioned she too got here to class to regain her energy and simply needed to scream.

“I appreciated the screams. I appreciated the correct of aggression, as a result of we do not get to try this fairly often as ladies,” Jennifer mentioned.

However extra importantly, she mentioned watching her son maintain his personal in an area full of people that have been older and older than them made Jennifer really feel higher about Bug navigating the world, even when it meant getting kicked. .

“Oh, I used to be so proud. [They] hit arduous, actually arduous. And I used to be like, ‘Whoa, okay.’ There may be undoubtedly energy in there. I had bruises for certain. I used to be actually proud. And I noticed [them] doing, you already know, stuff with different folks within the class,” Jennifer mentioned. “And it was wonderful, simply to observe them buzz and never be too scared to be in [their] physique and behave that manner with people who find themselves not less than twice as large [their] weight, you already know, or so.

For the Lueckemeyers and everybody else who left the gymnasium that Sunday, the category made them really feel a bit of sweatier, stronger and extra assured.