‘Learn Self-Defense’: MMA Artist After Strange BTS Encounter

Photo: ONE Championship / Facebook

BANGKOK — After an uncomfortable encounter with a stranger on the BTS, one of the nation’s top female mixed martial artists on Wednesday recommended that Thai women take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu for self-defense.

After a man on Sunday struck up unwarranted conversation with MMA fighter Rika Ishige on the BTS, she recommended that Thai women take up Brazilian jiu-jitsu to defend themselves.

Read: Train Under a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Master in October in Bangkok

“At first I was scared because he was speaking nonsense, but then I assumed he was unwell,” Rika, 29, said in an exclusive interview at Bangkok Fight Lab. “He asked to touch me but I refused, and he didn’t try to do so.”

Rika filmed the encounter with the man and posted the video on her Facebook page, which by Wednesday had almost 200,000 views.

In the video, the man asks her several fast-paced questions, such as “Can I flirt with you?”, “Can you come to my house?”, “Where is your father?” as well as questions about soap actresses and cars.

Rika said she was riding the Skytrain from BTS On Nut to BTS Phrom Phong at about 1pm or 2pm, a day after her win against Myanmar’s Bozhena Antoniyar in the One Championship Kingdom of Heroes.

“Some people commented and asked why I didn’t just walk away, or stop engaging because it was like I was leading him on,” Rika said. “Even if he’s unwell, he’s still human.”

Rika wasn’t quick to pull out her fists, instead moving to another carriage when the man became distracted.

“Martial arts definitely gave me confidence to react to people who approach me, whether as self-defense or to run away,” she said. “I’ve never had to fight anyone outside the ring yet.”

“Self defense is very suitable for women to learn,” Rika added. “Brazilian jiu-jitsu can even the odds between the differences of women’s and men’s bodies, so you have a higher chance of winning.”

She also recommended MMA.

“It’s not just for fighting onstage; it can be used for self-defense too.”

Still, she hoped that getting physical with self-defense is the last resort a woman would need, even though harassment is common.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this. It’s since I was a kid,” she said.

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