Bud Belts

Like any majestic city, you never know what’s happening behind a door in Barcelona, Spain. Someone walking by any given space has no idea what kind of wonderland is on the other side. During Women in Cannabis Presents Self Defense—taught by Gina Contel, Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and black belt, and held during Spannabis 2023—a group of about 30 scrappy women defied stoner stereotypes by learning how to kick ass. After training, they gathered around a Puffco Peak Pro, the “pinnacle of hash technology” for aftercare (the use of topicals is also encouraged) and shared personal pieces of inspiration or, to sound less corny, ways to not only survive in this world as a woman but how to take over.

“The hardest self-defense class you’ll ever take is the first one,” says Chelsea Kossower, vice president of global expansion at Puffco, an acclaimed dab rig company.

Kossower’s job is to travel the world and accelerate hash culture. She also has a side project called Rolladek, a jiu-jitsu content and education platform. Both Rolladek and Women in Cannabis hosted the self-defense event. Women in Cannabis, organized by Giuliana Roldán, is an invite-only movement aimed at fostering a safe and collaborative environment (for all genders) currently operating in nine countries. The Women in Cannabis event comprises two parts: a panel of women from the cannabis industry sharing insights and opportunities for newcomers. The second part is dedicated to a women’s self-defense class, underlining the importance of self-protection skills alongside professional networking and relationship building. The Barcelona event was located at Atos Jiu-Jitsu Barcelona, one of the best jiu-jitsu academies in Europe.

High Times Magazine, April 2024

For Kossower, jiu-jitsu is the first activity that matched her passion for cannabis because of the community. Her resume is intimidating, although she doesn’t like to assign the word “intimidating” to the sport. She explains at first, that when the self-defense class was announced, she received feedback that folks were scared of what they imagined to be intense combat. But she convinced them to attend.

“They had us lined up against a wall, and then one by one we had to go up against [world champion Contel],” describes workout aficionado and hash maker The Dank Duchess, who attended the event last spring. “At first, it’s kind of intimidating. But I gotta say, cannabis always brings us together. Fighting over the course of an hour and learning and being open-minded and open-hearted, it felt really good. It was a good way to end the cannabis trip.”

Duchess was new to self-defense but very familiar with combining cannabis and working out, two topics which, to the uninformed, are strangers, perhaps even characters who shouldn’t meet.

“It’s generally men that give you some shit about it,” Duchess says.

But thanks to science, even that is changing. In a groundbreaking study from January 2024 by the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), researchers found that legal, commercial cannabis positively influences exercise, making it more enjoyable. Focusing on 42 runners, the research delved into participants’ cannabis consumption and its effects on their physical activities. This study, featured in the Sports Medicine journal, suggests an increasing normalization of cannabis use in fitness despite ongoing debates in the sports sector. Laurel Gibson, the study’s lead author and a research fellow at CU’s Center for Health & Neuroscience, Genes & Environment (CUChange), sums up the findings: “Using cannabis before exercising seems to heighten the mood and enjoyment during the workout, regardless of whether THC or CBD is used.”

While the women in last year’s cannabis class aimed at general self-defense, the influence of jiu-jitsu, which emphasizes technique over brute strength, is undeniable. Jiu-jitsu is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting. While it originated in Japan, jiu-jitsu was later adapted and popularized in Brazil, known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Jiu-jitsu teaches how smaller people can successfully defend themselves against a larger assailant through technique. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has achieved significant global popularity in the sporting realm and is frequently regarded as a crucial element in mixed martial arts (MMA) training.

“The point of the seminars is to create distance from your attacker. God forbid, you’re past that point; we teach you how to fall properly so you’re not breaking your neck and hitting your head,” Kossower says.

The self-defense class covered what to do if someone grabs your wrist and (God have mercy on them) what to do if someone tries to put their hands around your waist in a club.

“Never are we encouraging people to fight or hurt people,” Kossower says. “We’re simply giving them the tools they need to create distance and get to safety.”

While the self-defense and dabs seminar was a unique, one day class, if attendants decided that they liked the class and would like to explore jiu-jitsu further on their own, it’s a win-win situation.

“It’s mainly to give them a few skills that could potentially save their lives one day,” Kossower says.

According to UN Women, about 736 million women, which is nearly one out of every three, have faced physical and/or sexual violence. Women who have experienced such violence are at a higher risk of suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, not to mention post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a plethora of other health consequences. The majority of such violence comes from former husbands or intimate partners. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Black women in the U.S. are disproportionately affected by such violence.

“I would like to say, yes, I’m Wonder Woman, but sometimes the world is scary,” says Roldán.

Roldán also works with Puffco. Born in Colombia, Roldán has an intimate relationship with cannabis, which she describes as vital in treating her anxiety.

“I’m very into indigenous culture, and I truly love all the ancient plants and all the real medicine that comes from nature,” Roldán says.

For her, such medicine helps with stress by reinforcing her own strength.

“Self-defense makes you feel empowered like, ‘OK, I’m strong, I can do it. I’m not afraid of this situation.’ We empower the women, create a safe space, create networking [opportunities]. We come together because together we are better,” she says, adding how important that is for women in a male-dominant industry.

While Roldán is talking about cannabis, that industry could just as well be combat sports. According to MMA Facts, the audience is predominantly male. For instance, studies have found that MMA audiences are roughly between 75-90% men and 10-25% women. But combat sports are embracing at least one female: the psychoactive cannabis plant.

In January 2021, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced a significant update on its stance on cannabis use among fighters. The leading MMA organization announced a major amendment to its anti-doping policy, indicating that fighters would largely not face penalties for cannabis use. This decision stated that the UFC would no longer concern itself with positive tests for THC, unless there is evidence that a fighter used marijuana deliberately to improve performance.

What most people, both amateur and professionals alike, have come to realize is that cannabis can be immensely beneficial when performing athletic activities.

“Because your brain is relaxing, your emotional state changes,” Roldán describes.

At first, jiu-jitsu was very difficult for Roldán due to mental blockage manifesting as anxiety. There’s overthinking, overthinking, and more overthinking. But as Duchess details, anything that has to do with body movement and getting your mind right and getting your body right is always going to be a good step because those two components work hand in hand. But when the participants add cannabis to self-defense (while it was only officially sanctioned after class, most consumed before and during), in the words of Roldán: “Everything just flows. I believe in myself more. I feel more confident. I also feel more happy.” At the end of the session, seated together, engaged in the millennia-old tradition of puff, puff, pass, the primary emotion described was pride.

The event organizers are currently making plans to bring it to as many other locations and communities as possible. Learning self-defense, paired with dabs, can help you settle into your body. It makes grappling with black belts less intimidating. It teaches women how to physically protect themselves from an attacker. Women like Kossower describe cannabis and jiu-jitsu as the loves of their lives, their two favorite communities, only improved when brought together through community.

But there’s one more desperately important reason for adding dabs to self-defense, whether through your own local community or a Women in Cannabis event: It’s fun. And not just silly fun, but spiritual, transformative, stepping into a secret wonderland kind of fun.

“Jiu-jitsu kills your ego. It allows you to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and it teaches you to be proactive and not reactive. And I think those were the biggest things I was able to take away from the mats and apply in my everyday life,” Kossower says. “And one of the biggest ego killers in the world is also cannabis, right?”

This article was originally published in the April 2024 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post Bud Belts appeared first on High Times.


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