As her eyes locked onto her target, she slowly lowered her weight and widened her stance. With sweat dripping down her face she lunged, latched on, and took down her opponent, methodically and effectively.

Brazilian jiujitsu is a martial art that requires full control of your body and emotions, making it necessary for you to be free of all distractions. It teaches you to control your situation and to de-escalate when possible.

In the time before her U.S. Air Force service, Staff Sgt. Lacey Peinado, 1st Combat Communications Squadron expeditionary training advisor, encountered many moments where she felt she had little to no control. She had dealt with catcalling, unwanted advances at work and inappropriate comments.

Due to these experiences, Lacey said she realized early in her career that she was afraid of being in rooms with only men and understood it wasn’t a healthy mindset for her to have.

“Being a female in the military can be really hard, especially when your job is male-dominant and some men aren’t used to working with women,” Peinado said. “Moving overseas, I no longer had access to my friends, family, concealed firearm, or pepper spray, which provided me a false sense of security. I knew I had to find a more permanent solution.”

After some time living in Germany at Ramstein Air Base one of Peinado’s friends recommended Brazilian jiujitsu.

“At that point, I was still a bit hesitant to join Brazilian jiujitsu since it was all men, and it seemed as though that was the opposite of what I needed,” Peinado said. “But, once I met the club members and got engulfed in the community, it changed my perspective and became addicting.”

Staff Sgt. Lacey Peinado
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lacey Peinado, 1st Combat Communications Squadron expeditionary training advisor, demonstrates a Brazilian jiujitsu takedown technique during a class at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany (Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo/DVIDS)

Brazilian jiujitsu revolves around the concept, taken from traditional Japanese jūjutsu, that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, physically stronger and heavier opponent by using leverage and weight distribution. It teaches you how to control the situation and thrive under stress.