Becoming a “Rough Kitty”

received_1889872861291132A few weeks ago, I saw that one of my friends was planning on going to a women’s self-defense seminar named “Rough Kitty.”  It was being taught by Ground Zero Fighting Systems, a local gym provides Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (gi and No-gi) , Boxing and Muay Thai Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Combatives (Street and combat tactics), Kardio Kickboxing, Pilates and personal training and private sessions.  A few of my friends attend this gym, and I had to choose between trying Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and pole fitness at Dance Rebellion and Fitness; I chose to try pole fitness first with a plan of starting BJJ after graduation.

Unfortunately, within the time that I have started pole fitness, I feel that my “hometown” has gotten more ‘unsafe.’  After hearing about a friend who had been held at knife point more than once on her walk home, I decided that self-defense courses would be a great idea.  Until Rough Kitty, I hadn’t found anything that seemed to resonate with me.  Previously, I had a few BJJ classes that focused on how to react to hair grabs, being grabbed by the wrist, etc, but it didn’t seem to stick.  I decided to trust my friend on facebook and give Rough Kitty a try.

Rough Kitty Women’s Self Defense and Hybrid Protection Strategies is taught by Joshua (Josh) Fowler, the co-owner of Ground Zero Fighting Systems.  He is the director and head instructor for this course.  Josh’s strategy is to not focus on technique, but to focus on natural body movements and “cheats” that one will be able to use when under stress.

What I love about the course is that Josh has worked on perfecting it over the past ten years, and it shows. The material covered is the same for military, law enforcement, correction officers, men, women, and kids.  As a woman, the most important thing to focus on is escape – not retaliation.  Josh is straight forward and honest; he does not sugar coat things.  In other defense classes, I feel that the danger of the situation was somewhat downplayed with the idea that ‘do this and everything will be fine.’

The course is broken into 3 three hour classes.  So far, I have completed two of the three.

Part 1: “Don’t Be Scared, Be Mad as Hell”

In this class, we focused on how to respond to a situation verbally.  The big take home message was to not give the wrong impression to a potential attacker.  For instance, “don’t come closer, or I will have to hurt you” is not as assertive as “come closer and I will hurt you.”  One of the best defenses is to not be there, so Josh discussed how to assess threats and to be aware of your environment.  This is vital, and I feel that Josh reinforced some of my better habits – not running with headphones, checking your environment when walking alone, staying on lit paths, etc.  We also discussed principles of escape.

However, the class isn’t just a discussion.  It is a lot of physical work!  I think one of the best resources that the Rough Kitty classes has is the access to the WVU Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club.  In the first class, male volunteers from this club and Josh’s classes were “our bad guys.”  We were not practicing techniques on fellow females, but rather men with different body builds, heights, and levels of experience.  This was invaluable.  The physical portion of the class started with all female participants lining up on the mat with their eyes shut while the “bad guys” walked behind them and picked them up, drug them away, pulled them down, etc.  This was incredibly realistic, and it was vital to realize how you as an individual would respond.  For me personally, I tend to curl into a ball and be ‘as heavy as I can be.’  By the end of the course, I feel that I improved in my ability to react to these situations.

Part 2: “Get Up and Get Out”

One of my female friends told me that BJJ was the best martial art for females to learn as women are often thrown to the ground first.  The second course focused on ground movement and incorporated some BJJ themes.  Josh didn’t focus on “technique” as much as effective movements for a novice to learn.  Having an older brother who I wrestled for fun, I found certain things in this class to be familiar; however, I became much more efficient and comfortable.  We reviewed points to focus on to get our attackers to “leave” like eyeballs (Josh’s favorite and guareented to make my stomach turn each time he mentions it, haha), throat, ear claps, the bridge of the nose, fingers to break, etc.  In this class, we practiced with both WVU MMA and BJJ members, Josh, and each other.  The goal was to get back on our feet and gain some space to flee.  This class was much more physically intensive.  I was sore the next day, and I had several bruises on my knees afterwards.  (I do tend to bruise like a peach, though.)

I plan on putting some of the videos from this class on my Facebpok page if anyone is interested. Here is one of the pictures:


Part 3: “Kitty Has Claws”

This is the final class that I will be taking in two weeks.  It focuses on choosing personal protection tools and how to carry them.  Josh briefly discussed how it is important to have weapon access; pepper spray doesn’t do much good in the bottom of your purse.  I am looking forward to this class as I have always been concerned that having pepper spray on my car keys might not be most the effective step.  Plus, we will be re-lined up on the mat, with “bad guys” behind us.  This time, we are allowed to respond.  I don’t think I will curl up into a ball and think heavy thoughts anymore.

Overall, I have found the Rough Kitty classes to be empowering and realistic.  I cannot overstate the value of having “real simulated situations” with males, and I appreciate everything that Josh and the WVU MMA/BJJ Club has done. I’ve also had a blast making friends with my fellow classmates and the “bad guy” volunteers.  I highly recommend any female (or male) attend a similar class as this.

If you want to learn more about the WVU Mixed Martial Arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club, check out the link above to go their Facebook page. Or, you can send Collin an email at You can check into Ground Zero Fighting Systems and Rough Kitty on Facebook through the links above.

Any questions?  Feel free to post them below!



Much of what I have learned about physical therapy and online health/wellness, I have learned from Greg Todd, the founder of Physical Therapy Builder.  He is a fantastic physical therapist whose mission is to help physical therapists provide patient focused care without becoming overwhelmed.  Greg Todd is also known as a “social media guru,” and I have a lot of thank him for.  I highly suggest his courses, especially Smart Success PT.  In May, I plan to attend Smart Success PT Live, a business, marketing, and branding course by some of the  top PT entrepreneurs in the field.


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