Mixing Jujitsu with your Tae Kwon Do may save your life!

For years Rancella Ferguson ignored her husband’s abusive ways, not seeing it as the domestic violence it was. Like thousands of other women she believed he would change. She always told herself that tomorrow would be different.  But things didn’t change and tomorrow was never any different.

The reality of domestic violence in Rancella’s life came full circle one evening when her husband’s abuse escalated into a beating that left the attractive woman fighting for her very life. Normally a slug feast against an attacker would be a walk-in-the-park for this high-ranking black belt. However, the man she was fighting was not only her husband of 22 years, he too was a martial arts expert.

Rancella’s nightmare began when her husband, stoned on crack, showed up at her place of employment. She was alone when her chemically challenged significant other barged into her office. Terrified, Rancella demanded that he leave. Instead, he pushed her against a wall and began a violent assault. Grabbing a handful of hair, he pulled Rancella down the hall and flung her to the floor.

“An ax-kick doesn’t do you any good when you’re flat on your back,” said Rancella. “My husband is a very big and powerful man. After he knocked me down, he began to beat me.  When I moved my head from one area he hit me in another. When you’re small and have someone bigger on top of you it’s very intimidating. If I had fought back I would have died.  He was so much bigger and heavier than I was. Plus he too was a Black Belt. Things would have been different if I would have known how to swing him off my body or apply a choke or an arm. But those are jujitsu techniques and back then I didn’t know any of those things.”

Rancella’s irate husband had a history of domestic violence and on this particular evening he went over an already violent edge.

“He had been doing things off and on,” she recalled. I’d been grabbed by the throat, shoved and slapped but until that night he had never really beaten me. Oddly enough in class when we would spar I usually won.  My kicks were faster and my techniques were cleaner. But I found out the hard way that in a real fight you need more than kicking skills.”

In the dojang (Korean martial arts training hall) Rancella was the only female in class, so she always fought men.

“I fought men all the time,” recalls Rancella. “Size never mattered to me because I was always able to fire off a kick before they could. So more often times than not, I was the winner.  This gave me a lot of confidence.”

So why didn’t that confidence work when Rancella was attacked by her husband? According to this 13-year veteran of the martial arts, had it been anyone other than her husband she would have fought back.

“When I go out into the street I take my martial arts confidence with me,” says Rancella.  “But I never thought I would have to defend myself against my husband. So when he attacked me the way that he did I was in shock. He was really trying to take me out. The reason I didn’t try any of my Tae Kwon Do kicks is because I knew that he could counter anything I could do.  We had trained together so long that he knew all my moves inside out.”

Rancella believed that if she had fought back her husband would have killed her. In an instant she decided to try another game plan.

“I decided not to fight back at all,” Rancella recalls. “And I’m glad that I did what I did.  Besides the fact that I truly believe he would have killed me, if I hit him and left a bruise or bloodied his nose, I would have been arrested too. The police would have seen it as equal combat because we were both Black Belts and I believe I would have been taken to jail even though I would have only been defending myself.”

As it was Rancella’s injuries were extensive but her life was spared. To this day she suffers from migraine headaches and whiplash.

“I still suffer from that beating, but if I’d fought back it would have been a lot worse. But if I knew then what I know now, I don’t think it would have ended up the way it did. With the jujitsu I now know I would have choked him till he was blue in the face. I would a’ held on him till his eyes was closed and there would be no marks to get me in trouble.”

Rancella was introduced to jujitsu when her Tae Kwon Do instructor invited a guest sensei to teach a throwing and grappling seminar. Impressed with the effectiveness of these techniques, Rancella began taking jujitsu lesson privately.

“Within a few minutes of the seminar I became a believer in the power of jujitsu. After a while I felt like I had been cheated in Tae Kwon Do because we weren’t taught these types of skills. I still believe in my kicks, but I also know that to be a well rounded martial artist, and an effective fighter in a real situation, must know some jujitsu. If I knew then, a few of the jujitsu techniques that I know now, it would have been a different story. But as it was at the time of the attack I didn’t have any jujitsu training and I had no way of getting him off me.”

One of the things that impressed this trim woman about jujitsu was the fact that with good technique a smaller person would take on and whip a larger attacker.

“I didn’t have to use a lot of strength to make my jujitsu moves work,” said Rancella.  “Especially chokes, I was amazed at how I could choke someone out even if they were on top of me. In fact during one drill I did a flash back to my attack.  My teacher was on top of me just like my husband was. At first I freaked inwardly, then I focused and got down to the business of learning how to defend against such an attack. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to choke someone out like that. To begin with, an attacker doesn’t expect you to be able to do anything like that. I am not a big person, so for me to put a larger adversary out with such ease gave my self-confidence quite a boost.”

As one can imagine, Rancella practices her jujitsu techniques with an intensity that is driven from a life experience. She tends to focus on moves that directly relate to the situation she endured at the hands of her black-belt husband.

“There’s this one move my instructor calls a baseball throw,” said Rancella about front choke release that works from a standing position or on the ground. “This is something that I could have used very effectively that night. I also like the cross lapel choke and fighting from the guard. It’s to bad I didn’t know these things the night I was attacked, but I do now, and God better have mercy on anyone who ever tries to hurt me again, cause I sure won’t.”

Rancella had her husband arrested and he did time for his crime. They are now divorced, but she still carries the scars from that awful night.

“You never expect some one you love to act like that. He did more than hurt me physically, he damaged me mentally and it took me a long time to get over that.”

Whether she is in the dojang or walking down the street, Rancella is always prepared for the unexpected.

“I will never be caught off guard again,” exclaims Rancella. “I don’t care who it is.  A neighbor, my brother, anyone! I will never be the victim of a violent crime again without fighting back”

In an effort to help other women who have also been the victims of domestic violence, Rancella raised funds and traversed the city’s red tape to open a shelter for battered women.

“I wanted to take what happened to me and turn it into something positive,” said Rancella.  “This shelter is a way for me to help other women who have been beaten and need away to get on the road to a better life. I did it and so can they.  I just want to help.”