Odopod Associate Design Director Elise Granados, and her husband Rudy Granados, a police officer, recently led a self-defense workshop at our office. (It rocked.) They’ve been practicing martial arts since they were kids. Read on to learn about how they’re helping Bay Area residents better protect themselves.
How did you get into practicing self-defense?
Rudy: Elise and I have been doing martial arts since we were kids. I starting practicing at five-years-old in various competitions. I didn’t start focusing on the self-defense aspect until I was about 14, when I became an instructor at a martial arts studio.
Elise: I did martial arts on and off since childhood but didn’t start teaching self-defense until I met Rudy. I think both of us have always had a passion for teaching. So training others in self-defense and helping them feel more empowered just became the logical next step.
What do you like about teaching self-defense?
R: As a cop, spending most of my days seeing people feel victimized has made me want to share the things I’ve learned so they can be better prepared to protect themselves. I love everything about teaching, but most of all seeing people’s sense of accomplishment when they learn a technique.
E: Absolutely. It feels great to see the look on someone’s face when they do something they didn’t know they could. Knowing that we are helping develop a skill that will be relevant throughout their life is also incredibly satisfying.
What are your goals when teaching a self-defense class?
R: My goals are simple. I want to teach techniques that have a real-world application while getting students to also enjoy learning them.
E: Also, a large part of the class is centered around awareness of one’s own surroundings and building confidence with your own abilities.
Who takes your classes? What do you teach?
E: The classes are structured for people of all experiences and varying skill sets. We adjust our training to meet students’ physical abilities, and all have been successful in adding new self-defense skills to their lives. Everyone can benefit from learning the basics.
R: Some of our classes are lecture only. These commonly cover steps to take in an attempt to avoid dangerous situations or to better prepare themselves to survive an attack. For the more hands-on portion, we cover ground defense, striking, self-defense tools (pepper spray), and escapes.
How do you keep your skills fresh?
E: Practice, practice, practice as much as you can. Find a friend or spouse you can practice techniques with. Muscle memory is key.
In your classes, you often remind people that “it can happen to anyone.” Is there a time when you were caught off guard?
R: I grew up in some not so friendly neighborhoods and have had to defend myself multiple times. In my career, there have been occasions where, no matter how prepared I was, I have been surprised and have had to respond. I have found the best way to be prepared is through regular training.
E: I have had to use self-defense before. It’s an unfortunate fact that many attackers see women as an easier target, which makes the chance that a woman will have to defend herself more likely. This may not just be physical. I have run into overly aggressive people who have tried to threaten or intimidate me and have found that awareness and avoidance can often be the best forms of self-defense.
Could you share an anecdote of a time when your self-defense class helped someone in the real world?
R: I once trained a young woman who had been sexually assaulted twice in the past. It took some time, but being the survivor that she is, she found her confidence again. The road to earning her trust wasn’t easy, but it got to the point where she really started loving the techniques I was teaching her. We lost contact when she moved away, but I ran into her a few years later. She had the biggest smile on her face and gave me a hug. She told me someone tried to pull her into a van and that she used one of the simplest techniques I teach to defend herself and escape. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life.
If you’re in an elevator and you have just 30 seconds to drop some self-defense knowledge, what is it?
R: Acknowledge the world around you. Keep your head up and pay attention. The best way to survive is to see the danger and avoid it.
E: There are many ways to be strong. My advice is simply to remember that you are brave, you are important, you are smart, and you are strong.
If an individual or a group wants to learn from you, how do they get in touch?
Feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the usual social channels — Instagram and Facebook.
Thanks, Elise and Rudy! You are our real-life superheroes. Those are some fantastic lessons and sound reminders to be more aware of the world around us.