brutal barbThe nickname Brutal Barb was bestowed on me years ago by a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu professor who said there was a BrutalBarb.com website that showed all the people I’d brutalized on the mat (which by my count is not so many). The nickname stuck.

I am a moral and ethical hardliner who doesn’t put up with a lot of B.S. I consciously worked to develop skills in conflict and boundary management, and I believe that these skills should be part of every high school curriculum.

I have always been an advocate for women’s issues. History is clear that when women are well-educated and have equal social standing, societies flourish. A women’s issue that has never been eradicated in any culture is violence against women. While social norms that do not sanction violence against women, the human propensity to gain a sense of personal power by abusing and belittling others appears to be genetically ingrained.

In the fall of 2016, the mother of a child who was in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class I had been teaching asked if I could provide a women’s self-defense class. I couldn’t at the time, but I told her what I could do was get to classes other organizations were providing. I did, and I was at times mortified. I began working on a formal curriculum that addresses the most common attacks on women (men are generally attacked differently) that integrates honest discussion about domestic violence and confidant attacks.

I have three grown children who are all successful adults, and by day work in the information technology data science arena. I’ve been training in mixed martial arts, primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, since 2004. My idea of an awesome time is pinning my opponent’s head on the mat and giving him a noogie. I know that someday I will have to retire to yoga, but today is not that day.

~ Barbara Atkinson