Training in a martial art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) builds trust among training partners. Each partner has to believe that their opposite will not push so far that the other gets injured. Over time, that trust and belief in each other develops into a deeper, even familial, type of bond. On New Year’s Eve 2013, the bond between some teammates was broken in this egregious incident. The fallout in the Washington, DC BJJ community was swift and severe. One of DC’s leading MMA-themed schools, BETA Academy, is doing their part to help the community heal by hosting a “Grapplethon” on October 19.
Grapplethon is a 12-hour event in the mold of the “dance-a-thons” of yesteryear. The idea is that there must be at least one pair of grapplers actively training at any point during the day. The event is open to anyone, regardless of martial arts school affiliation or experience level. There is no cost to attend, although donations will be accepted. Anyone who donates $40 or more will receive a t-shirt designed by fellow grappler Meerkatsu. Various prizes will be raffled off during the event as well. All proceeds will go to the Network for Victim Recovery of DC, which works to empower victims of sexual and domestic violence.
The New Year’s Eve incident is not the only catalyst for BETA Academy to host this event. The topic is a very personal one for Nakapan Phungephorn and his wife Melanie, who are the founders of BETA. In late January, Melanie bravely announced through a Facebook posting, which was posted to the BETA Academy page, that she herself was a victim of rape.
In the posting she discussed the long-term impact that the crime had on her life. She wrote about how Nakapan, himself a master in both Muay Thai kickboxing and BJJ, helped her conquer her issues with the help of Muay Thai training. With his support, Melanie became a Muay Thai fighter and is working her way up the BJJ ranks as well.
If anyone knows how martial arts training can help victims work through such a horrific event, it is Melanie . The DC area is lucky to have people like Melanie and Nakapan running a martial arts school. They have worked hard to develop a family atmosphere for their students at BETA and were deeply disturbed by the New Year’s Eve events and the resulting fallout in the BJJ community. They both feel, as do all of the instructors and students at BETA that they have to do something to show their support for victims of these types of crime and Grapplethon is just one of the ways that they are doing it.
The event will be held in an “open mat” format, allowing participants to spar or drill at their own pace. Some BETA Academy instructors, including Nakapan, will also hold workshops on particular techniques. The two grapplers who spend the most time on the mats will win a new gi.
Grapplethon starts at 9 am on October 19th and ends at 9 pm. Everyone is welcome to come to the event to train BJJ, get an introductory lesson in BJJ, or just show support for the cause. Anyone who cannot attend the event but wants to donate to the cause can do so here.
For more information, check out BETA Academy’s Facebook page here or give them a call at (202) 538-0422. The school’s address is 1353 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC.