Through the years a common question has arisen among my friends, family, and students. They ask why is it that I have such a passion for teaching BJJ, especially when it comes to training women. For many years I have bottled up the main reason and just recently decided to put it all out on the table for everyone to see.
In October of 1999, a dear friend of mine by the name of Helen Frost was murdered here in Austin. She was a smart, young, and petite woman who was on a path to improve her lifestyle. I had invited her to attend some kickboxing classes with me, which she had declined due to her fear of contact sports. Eventually I had convinced her to train with me at her apartment and in a nearby park in our off time. I will never forget the day she lost her footing and fell to my feet while working on some kicking techniques. Right at that moment, she stared up at me with a concerned look on her face and asked “So, what do I do if this happens, Ernesto”? I immediately expressed that it was a whole other area of training that I would eventually introduce to her when the time was right.
A few weeks later I had asked her to attend a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class with me. She agreed but was too shy and afraid to even participate in the warm-up that night. Once she had witnessed a few of the positions associated with our training she was sure that it was not for her and decided to sit in her car the remainder of the class. Later, I tried explaining that the style is designed for the smaller person to utilize technique over strength and the positions we were in are very common when defending yourself on the ground. She simply could not grasp the concept of it all and laughed at the idea of having someone between your legs or vice versa. As a friend of hers, I would even laugh along with her but continued to preach about it every chance I got. I did everything but physically force her to try but failed every time and eventually quit bringing it up. Once she had graduated, she decided to commit all of her free time to finding a job in her field. I eventually lost touch with her.
Almost a year later, while eating breakfast at a local Denny’s, I came across a newspaper article about a missing woman who was found. It was Helen. I cannot explain in simple words the ill feeling I had at that moment. I was in denial from that moment on until another friend of mine had confirmed the date and location of the funeral. I will never forget the day of the funeral. Not only because of the funeral proceedings but also due to the words her mother expressed to me directly. When I had introduced myself to her, she automatically knew who I was. Apparently Helen had bragged about me to her mother on numerous occasions. While embracing me she said, “Thank you so much for being such a trustworthy friend and roll model to my daughter. I just wish you could have convinced her to continue with all the training. She could very well still be with us today. Please don’t ever give up on anyone else even if they give up on you.” Her few words will stay with me till the day I die and is why teaching martial arts is a passion of mine.
I have attached a detailed story along with this letter describing the events that led up to her murder and how she was killed. The purpose is to try and convince the reader to consider taking some of our BJJ classes. Although the report may be a bit graphic, it should make it clear why having some knowledge on ground defense is critical.