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Joneses Foster Trust and Cooperation

A Valentine Story

Bruce Jones stands at the edge of the mats covering the floor at the Fairfax County YMCA in Reston and smiles as his wife of 32 years, Judy Jones, shows a class of about 25 students how to put an attacker on the ground.

"That's my baby," he said, grinning ear to ear.

The Joneses spend three days a week teaching a self-defense class at the Y, which attracts as many as 60 students at any given time. The eight-week course teaches jujitsu with an emphasis on lawful and ethical self defense.

Afterwards the pair return to their Lake Anne home for some swimming or tennis or visiting with their two daughters and three grandchildren, who all live nearby.

THE COUPLE met 33 years ago in Minnesota when Bruce Jones was in law enforcement. Over a nearly 40-year career, Bruce Jones has worked for law-enforcement agencies at every level — city, county, state and federal — including with the organized crime unit in Dade County, Fla., and as a federal investigator in Washington D.C. The couple moved to Reston 20 years ago, when Bruce Jones was transferred to the area. He officially retired in 1997, but still does consulting work through his own company, which includes teaching advanced self-defense to several law enforcement, military and even diplomatic personnel.

"I'm failing retirement," Bruce Jones, 58, said.

Through his law-enforcement work, Bruce Jones, maintained the martial arts skills he learned as an "Army brat" growing up in Japan. He is now a sixth-degree black belt and four-time World Martial Arts champion.

Despite his extensive background in martial arts, Judy Jones did not take up the sport for several years, at which time Bruce Jones became her teacher.

"Years ago, my schedule didn't permit it," Judy Jones, 60, said. "Mutual friends were taking the class, so I tried it. And it just evolved from there. It wasn't planned [for us to teach together] in the beginning."

As Judy Jones progressed, her husband would ask her to fill in at class when he was out of town. She is now one of four women in the United States to earn a fourth-degree black belt, and is also a former national champion. And when she is not teaching, she works as a waitress.

THE JONES began teaching self defense because, as Bruce Jones said, "It's needed."

The class focuses on preparing a person to make a decision he or she can live with in three to five seconds if faced by an attacker. To that end, besides teaching physical self defense, the Joneses also explain the legal ramifications of taking such actions.

"We focus on ethical and legal self defense. Violence isn't part of it," Judy Jones said. "It's about controlling and regulating your actions and not becoming a victim."

The class attracts fathers and young daughters, brothers and sisters, as well as government workers. And one of the most important rules of the class is to always show respect. Even when practicing, a student must verbally or physically signal it is OK for a fellow student to lay hands upon him or her.

"When we first started training together before I retired, we discussed how to develop a circle of friends outside of law enforcement," Bruce Jones said. "Dojo [a room or studio where martial arts are taught] in Japanese means extension of family. Friends, family come here to train with us."

BUT the Joneses' lives do not revolve around martial arts. Outside of their classes, the couple leads active lives.

"We enjoy some independence, so we don't suck the air out of each other," Bruce Jones said. "We make time for other things a couple times a week."

The couple's home, Bruce Jones said, looks like a gym. They enjoy tennis, swimming, traveling and finding time with the grandchildren.

"We don't have a lot of ego problems at home," Bruce Jones said. "This type of self defense is about cooperation and trust. We are the best of friends. I see that missing from modern relationships."

Judy Jones said that since teaching the class together she has learned more about her husband and herself than she would have otherwise. She also does not see their collaboration concluding anytime soon.

"I can't imagine it coming to an end," Judy Jones said. "It's so much a part of our lives."