A chilling incident sparked the realization that Jessica Locke did not know how to defend herself. She is on Friday’s MMA card at GNF.
Jim Krajewski, email@example.com
A chilling incident sparked the realization that Jessica Locke did not know how to defend herself from a potential attacker.
About three years ago, Locke was giving music to lessons to young children when one night a stranger demanded to be let back to the room where the children were being taught.
He did not take no for answer, at first, which had Locke wondering what she would do if the situation escalated, although eventually he left the building.
“If he kept coming, I had nothing. I really had no skill set or even base to begin to protect the kids or myself,” Locke said about defending herself that night.
That episode motivated Locke to take a self-defense class.
She initially signed up for 10 hours of self-defense training. Locke is now three years into her martial arts training and on Friday she will display her skills in her first sanctioned MMA bout.
Locke, 32, from Reno will fight Nikki Cruz (3-1), from South Lake Tahoe on Friday at Greater Nevada Field, one of 18 bouts scheduled for the World Fighting Championships that night. Doors open at 6 p.m. and fights start at 6:30 p.m.
Locke has four children, ranging in ages from 5 to 11, and they also train with her at Momentum Martial Arts in Reno.
She was a little reluctant, at first, to train in martial arts, but soon became an eager student.
The incident with the stranger at the music store was scary and motivating.
“It all came from that night. This sketchy guy came in. I realized, if he had done anything, I had nothing to try, nothing to do,” Locke said. “It made me really uncomfortable, being a mom and having little kids and myself, and not knowing what to do to take care of myself.”
She has an athletic background, she played soccer at Carson High School, and her early attempts at martial arts resembled soccer kicks.
Her training started with learning how to stop punches and other attacks along with how to avoid being pulled into a vehicle.
Her instructor at Momentum, Darien Cobon, said that although women tend to be smaller than men, size can be overcome and women can learn to avoid attacks, tactics which will also help her in the octagon on Friday.
He said people can learn basic concepts to defend themselves with a few hours of training, although they likely would not be ready to fight in the octagon.
“You’re going to have one thing, or these isolated techniques, and you’ll have an option to fight back. You’ll have at least have something to do,” Cobon said.
Locke also teaches fitness, striking and self-defense classes three days a week, at Momentum Martial Arts in conjunction with Cobon.
She hopes to inspire and encourage other women to stand up for themselves.
“I want moms to feel empowered, that they can take care of themselves, and their kids,” Locke said. “The mom class, that’s my heart. That’s my main goal, through everything.”
She encountered another potentially scary incident at a gas station after she began training, in which cars were on both sides of hers with people in each car talking to the others. Her kids sensed something was not right and knew to lock the doors.
“I knew all these people were connected,” she said. “I had very heightened awareness. Nothing escalated, but I knew I was OK. I knew I had a plan. I felt confident. That is a drastic change form two years ago.”
She admits fighting an opponent in an octagon is little different than self-defense. Instead of fending of an attacker, she will have to be the aggressor for the three two-minute rounds Friday night.
Locke will be counting on her training to become instinctual instead of thinking about each movement.
“I’ll do what we trained, hopefully it just comes out,” she said. “I love sparring. It’s always been my favorite. It’s a good challenge. It gives me instant feedback. i might think I look great on pads, but you go live and you realize there’s holes, there’s gaps. There’s things I need to improve on. It’s like a puzzle.”
She said fighting in a competition is a good way to use what she has learned and what she needs to work on.
“It’s going to be a good opportunity for her to go out there and show what she’s been working on,” Cobon said, adding that she will be considered the underdog.
She has competed in the Spartan races also, in which people have to overcome obstacles on a course, to help her conditioning and endurance.
There are three title fights on the card Friday night: 145-pounds, Joey McKay (6-0, Reno) vs Calob Ramerez (9-6, Sacramento); 170, Brennan Mishler (6-1, Reno) vs Chris Rios (7-3, Santa Rosa, Calif) and heavyweight, Ryan Wallace (South Lake Tahoe) vs. Anthony Lazzerini (Gardnerville).
Wallace, who had a rare form of bone cancer, which led to the amputation of his leg when he was 19, won a gold medal in the Heavyweight Para-Division of the Abu-Dhabi Grand Slam Jiu-Jitsu Tournament last fall in Los Angeles.
More fights Friday include: 170, Adrian Chambers, South Lake Tahoe vs. Cameron Chuch, Sacramento; Heavyweight, Matt McCrary, Reno vs. Tommy Cervantez, Las Vegas; 140, Terina Metoyer, Reno vs. Jennifer Bowman, Utah; 135, Michael Courneya, Reno vs. Marques Jones, Reno; Hvy, Clifton Kump, Reno, vs. Jr Genera, Sacramento; 125, Gabriel Morris, Reno vs. Jake Arroya; 125, Victor Angel, Reno, vs. Jason Wong, Reno; 145, Daren Pennington, South Lake Tahoe vs. Kaleio Romero, Gardnerville; 145, Caleb Frandsen, Reno vs. Juneil Urbano, Stockton, Calif. 163, Jake Wright, Reno vs. TBA; 145, Edward Schmehl, Reno, vs. TBA.
Tickets start at $28 for general admission and go up to $53 for cage side and $83 on the field at Greater Nevada Field.
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.