With Leather: Let’s say that I’m completely clueless – I’m not, but let’s say I am – how would you describe Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? How did you get into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What drew you to that specific style of fighting?
Eve Torres: My brother trained Jiu-Jitsu in high school and I didn’t know much about it at the time, except that he would put me in these crazy holds. I should have beat him up when I had the chance. He was a really little guy. Now he’s 6-foot-2, but at the time he was a really little guy and he was a late bloomer. My dad put him in Jiu-Jitsu and it really helped him with his self-confidence.
When I started on the road with the WWE – again, we’re traveling a lot – there are times that we can’t always travel together. We try to, but sometimes we are by ourselves. I had a frightening incident when I was by myself, still new to this world, driving somewhere between Connecticut and New York, and I stopped at a gas station and basically had a pretty scary run-in with three men that were being very aggressive. They followed me out and I just ran to my car, turned it on and got out of there. I had to regain my composure and it was an eye-opening experience for me, like I had to do something about this because I didn’t like that feeling.
Coincidentally, one of my best friends was training at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and she was actually dating Ryron Gracie. She invited me to the academy, I had my first practice and I never looked back. What I love about it and what the average person doesn’t know about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it was created for smaller persons to defend themselves against larger persons. Every technique embodies the philosophy of leverage – it’s technique, timing and energy efficiency. That is really what you need to defeat someone much larger than you if you can’t rely on your athleticism or strength. You don’t want to have a boxing match with someone who is stronger than you are.
It’s really just the most effective martial art and I think that was proven in the early UFCs with Royce Gracie and all of the giants that he fought. But for the average person who doesn’t know about Jiu-Jitsu and doesn’t train, you can be very effective, and that is why I’m so passionate about sharing it with women, because it’s THE martial art for women. It teaches them how to be comfortable in the worst case scenario, whether it’s being pinned on the ground by someone much heavier than you or especially if it’s a man between your legs. It’s how you can use that position to control them and submit them even if it came to it. But mostly it’s about neutralizing a situation and making yourself safe.
With Leather: So it’s safe to say that your personal experience is what led to the establishment of the Gracie Women Empowered self-defense program?
Eve Torres: Yes, it is. And I actually just started the regular Jiu-Jitsu program, and the Gracies had developed this women’s empowerment program that they’d been teaching for about 15 years. But they didn’t have a regular class that was available every single week. I started really pushing for that to happen and the Gracie Academy made it happen. Since January, we’ve had the classes and I was a part of the Women Empowered DVD, and now we’re going to push it to schools throughout the nation.
It’s very simple and it’s down to the most important 15 techniques that any woman needs to know to be safe. This program has evolved over the past 15 years based on the influence of women who are survivors and the feedback they have given. Whether rear attacks, grabbing your hair, weapon attacks, being pinned to the ground, a man between your legs – all of these worst case scenarios are what we address with the program.
With Leather: Other WWE Superstars like Brock Lesnar and Dave Batista have tried their hands at MMA. Do you see yourself being the first Diva to possibly venture into other genres of fighting?
Eve Torres: Honestly, I never say never, but I really don’t. I enjoy the sport aspect of it and I love learning and growing, training with other guys and testing myself. I love those parts of it. For me, it’s really about the self defense aspect of it, and that’s the empowering part. To take it all the way to MMA, I doubt I’ll go that far with it, because my passion for it is sharing with women that you don’t have to be an MMA fighter to defend yourself. You can actually be a physically average person and know how to defend yourself. That’s the image that I want to portray.
With Leather: You were the first ever champion of Stars Earn Stripes. What was that show experience like? How often have you bragged that you defeated Superman (Dean Cain)?
Eve Torres: I have to start using that way more. It was a life-changing experience for me, because I didn’t really know how difficult it was going to be going into it. I kind of assumed that they were going to put us through the ringer, but some of the missions were both extremely mentally and physically challenging. I’ve always been a strong supporter of our military and I’m proud to say that I’ve been overseas to entertain the troops and go on tours with Vince McMahon, but the respect I gained just on a personal level went through the roof, because I got to spend time with these guys and hear their stories.
You think that these special ops guys are like machines and all of a sudden you realize that they’re also people. They’re out there performing these special missions that take a mindset that none of us can even fathom, yet they’re still people with families. That was pretty eye-opening for me. I really enjoyed it and I found a new hobby in shooting, because apparently I’m a very good shot. I still go to the range and enjoy that, because it’s like a nice little stress release for me. I was obviously happy to be a part of it and donate $150,000 to the USO. That was awesome for me, I’m glad I did it.