How Martial Arts Saved My Life....Twice

On two separate occasions, Laura Parr has used her Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training to successfully fight off assailants.

Laura's job has her traveling the country, and the world, on the regular. Between her job and her love of exploring the world, Laura is regularly away from home and regularly in places that she isn't overly familiar with. Laura knows that being in unfamiliar places increases the odds that she'll be targetted for a crime; potentially a violent crime. Because of this, Laura made martial arts training a priority, greatly decreasing the likelihood of her becoming a victim of a physical assault.

Laura's decision to undertake martial arts training ended up saving her life on two separate occasions.

Rather than re-tell Laura's story, we're going to let Laura give you the details. This recounting of her dangerous encounters with would-be assailants comes directly from Straight Blast Gym student Laura Parr.

I'm a single mom who, for the most part, travels alone or with my son, both domestic and internationally, about 90% of the time. In the past year, I have had to use my knowledge of martial arts to get myself out of dangerous situations. In both instances, I was alone, walking through nice areas that were advertised as the "safe areas in the city". 

The first incident occurred in Turkey. I was there for 2 weeks, volunteering at a refugee camp, and I was staying in the nicest part of town. For the most part, I moved like a local because I speak Turkish. I had nothing to worry about, or so I thought. I was not behaving like a 'dumb tourist'. The last night that I was there while walking home in a very well-known area, I got attacked by a guy who very clearly did not have good intentions. The law is not on the females' side in Turkey so I knew quickly I was on my own. 

 I'd trained in Muay Thai for a couple of years and so that skill set is what got me out of the situation. I left unscathed and just a bit shook up, as the guy didn't even get close to his goal (whatever that was; I shudder to think).

It was at that moment that I decided that I needed to take up martial arts again. I had always been interested in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and so I joined Straight Blast Gym Atlanta in January of 2022, where I found an incredible community of like-minded people. I thought "by the time this happens again, I will be another belt color and way more prepared" without knowing that I would experience it again sooner than anticipated; this time domestically. 

I had traveled to Seattle and was walking in a very affluent and nice area with many people. Despite that, a homeless guy tried to attack me ("tried" being the operative word). Mind you that I'm a white belt in Jiu Jitsu, and even with that knowledge, which is, for the most part, basic comparatively, I was able to defend myself and take down the assailant enough to buy me time to sick the cops on him. Again, I was shaken and I was in shock, but I left unscathed. 

In this day and age, I cannot recommend knowing a martial art enough. It's tremendous what it has done for my confidence, and my overall well-being, and I am not going to be scared by those experiences because I got me and my son covered. No one, of any gender, should have to live in fear. My son also started Jiu Jitsu this week after seeing me train for close to a year, so I also have now an activity and passion that I can share with him. 

Laura's story is truly remarkable. Scary, but remarkable. Unless you are routinely traveling through dangerous areas, you probably don't regularly think about having to defend yourself against physical, and potentially deadly, violence. The truth is that nobody is exempt from being targeted by criminals and assailants, especially women. Arming yourself with (even very basic) Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai skills gives you both the confidence and the actual skill set to deal with a lot of these situations. The longer and more regularly you train, the more likely you are to escape these incidents unharmed and, most importantly, alive. Learning self-defense is one thing, but regularly practicing these techniques against people giving you resistance (or what we call Aliveness) is the best way to ensure that when and if the time comes that you have to defend yourself, you'll keep your composure and know exactly what to do.

Laura trains at both SBG Buford and SBG Atlanta. In addition to attending Jiu Jitsu classes, she regularly does one-on-one private lessons with Coach David Eads.

Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us, Laura.

Jim Sheppard is one of the co-owners of Straight Blast Gym Buford and Straight Blast Gym Atlanta. He has been training / coaching / competing in Muay Thai since 2013 and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.