Self-Defense Instruction Conference/PeaceWorks Violence Prevention Path


North Central College

Naperville, IL

July 16-20, 2014

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National Women's Martial Arts Federation Self-Defense Director
Anne Kuzminsky, 6th degree black belt in Zujitsu, has studied various martial arts and self-defense systems since 1976. She is an NWMAF certified self-defense instructor and an inductee as Master Instructor of the Year - Self-Defense, in the World Head of Family Sokeship Council Hall of Fame. Anne teaches self-defense and martial arts in Rhode Island, and served on the 2007 – 2009 NWMAF Self Defense Instructors' Conference (SDIC) Coordinating Committees. She has been NWMAF’s Director-at-Large for Self Defense since 2010, and continues to help plan this conference and enjoy the remarkable women who co-create and attend it each year. She holds a BS in Psychobiology from Yale University and lives with her husband, her growing son and daughter, and a variety of furry pets.
National Women's Martial Arts Federation Events Coordinator
Lisa Santi has been training in the martial arts for 31 years and holds a 5th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a 1st Degree Black Belt in American Style Nunchaku. Lisa is a Certified Self Defense Instructor with NWMAF and has been selected as a trainer 3 times. Lisa is a lifetime member of the A.W.M.A.I. and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in February of 2013. Lisa has been successfully running her martial arts school “Turn of the Tide Martial Arts” in Grosse Pointe Park Michigan for 24 years. Her school has become a fixture for the young people in her community. 2012 was a big year for Lisa; she joined the NWMAF board as the Events Coordinator, was inducted into the Midwest Women’s Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and celebrated 30 years of marriage to her husband David.
Conference Coordinators
Diane Long has taught sex-positive self-defense for 22 years. First exposed to Chimera self-defense while a volunteer for Rape Crisis Services in Illinois, she went on to train and certify in the CAE (Center for Anti-Violence Education) model. Personal experience with chronic pain and PTSD motivated a life-long exploration of healing modalities to complement martial arts and self-defense training, beginning with Seifukujitsu Massage. Diane is a Board-Certified Massage Therapist and Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, trained extensively in Healing Touch, Trauma First Aide™ and Body Memory Recall. She specializes in teaching self-defense and sexual negotiation for survivors and has developed trauma-informed programs for torture survivors, refugee youth, youth who are homeless, LGBTQ youth and a variety of support groups. She completed advocacy training with Outfront MN in 2013. She regularly works with staff at social service agencies to teach about boundaries, self-care, safety, and managing secondary trauma. She taught at SDIC in 2008, 2009 and 2013 and has served on SDLC since 2010. Personal passions include community health initiatives, travel and earth-based spiritual practice.
Joyce Mende Wong is Co-Director of the Self-Defense Program at Hand to Hand Kajukenbo Self Defense Center in Oakland, CA. In 1993 Joyce completed a self-defense course taught by the late Professor Coleen Gragen after which she joined the martial arts program. Both programs, now under the leadership of Sifu Sonya Richardson, continue to impact the way Joyce lives in the world. Joyce is a member of NWMAF, PAWMA and a lifetime member of the Kajukenbo Association of America. She received NWMAF certification as a self-defense instructor in 2009 and was a member of the Conference Coordinating Committee for SDIC that year. Joyce has served as a member of the Self Defense Leadership Committee for the past four years. She was fortunate to work with an amazing group of women during those years planning for SDIC, supporting trainers, developing and revising application forms and policies for certification and recertification as well as serving as a reviewer for members seeking recertification. Joyce is looking forward to being at as many workshops, classes, and meetings at this year's PeaceWorks as possible.
Session Facilitators and Panelists
Angalia Bianca (“Bianca”) started working for Cure Violence in 2011, shortly after being released from prison. After a year as an outreach worker at the Rogers Park/Uptown program site, she was promoted to program supervisor. In 2014 she was hired by Cure Violence’s research team, where she is now helping the organization better use data to improve program performance, “which in our case hopefully means saving lives.” During Bianca’s time in prison, she earned her GED, completed two years of college, and received a paralegal certificate. She plans to go back to college next year to get a Bachelor’s Degree and then an MSW.
Patricia Broughton is Director of Development for Cure Violence, a program based at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois in Chicago, which utilizes a health approach to stopping lethal violence in urban communities. She is also a student of Seido karate in her 11th year of training at Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center, currently holding the rank of second dan black belt.
For more than 20 years, Guadalupe M. Cruz (“Lupe”) has been a dynamic community leader in Chicago’s Little Village community where she grew up. In 2008, she was hired as a Violence Interrupter by Cure Violence’s community partner in Little Village. In 2011 she became the supervisor for the team of 20 Latino/a Violence Interrupters employed by Cure Violence in Chicago. This year she joined Cure Violence’s international team, and now provides training and technical assistance for community partners who are replicating the Cure Violence model in Pedro San Sula, Honduras; Capetown, South Africa; and Loiza; Puerto Rico. She is also assisting in assessing the potential for Cure Violence adaptations in other Latin American countries, including Columbia and Mexico.
Senpai Carmel Drewes is the Anti-Violence Programs Coordinator at Sun Dragon Martial Arts & Self Defense in Austin, Texas. Carmel believes that helping individuals feel stronger and more confident in all aspects of their lives moves us towards a safer and more respectful culture. She has been training in martial arts since 1998 and practical, empowerment-focused self defense since 2001. She has black belts in Kyokushin karate (2004) and Seido karate (2013), both from Sun Dragon. Carmel has taught karate and self defense to people of a variety of ages, genders, and backgrounds for over ten years. Outside the dojo, Carmel is a licensed clinical social worker, specializing in healing from trauma and societal discrimination, with a focus on immigrant and LGBTQ communities. She has many years of classroom teaching experience in adult education (English as a Second Language) and social work (at the University of Texas).
Michelle Dwyer has been training in Chinese Martial Arts since the middle 1970’s and has been teaching for over 30 years. She has trained extensively in Tai Chi Chuan, Northern Shaolin Gung Fu, Hsing Yi Chuan, weapons in all these styles, as well as many forms of health, spiritual and martial Chi Gong. She is a long time member of Jing Mo, San Francisco, CA., and a student of Grand Master Wong Jack Man. She has taught NWMAF’s Special Training 4 times at and 20+ times at PAWMA’s annual training. Her own club, Silver Cloud School, has been ongoing since 1982, offering classes in Berkeley, Oakland, and Napa,CA. She is currently a regular guest instructor at Oakland Kajukenbo Kwoon and Hand to Hand Community Center teaching Northern Shaolin weapons. She leads weekend workshops in Portland, Organ and Seattle, WA . For over 20 years, she has traveled in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and France giving summer weekend workshops. In 2012, she was awarded the PAWMA Life Time Achievement Award and in 2013 entered the AWMAI Hall of Fame. She is looking forward to teaching at NWMAF’s Special Training ‘14.
Annie Ellman, Co-Founder & Educational Advisor Annie is a nationally recognized authority in the field of violence prevention. As CAE’s founder and former Executive Director for 40 years, Annie designed the organization’s curricula, trained over 250 violence prevention and self-defense instructors, guided CAE through 30 years of growth, and consulted with many organizations initiating anti-violence programming. Her vision, skill, and commitment have helped CAE have a positive and life-changing impact on thousands of children, teens, adults, and survivors. Annie received a Gloria Steinem Award from the Ms. Foundation and has been honored by the Stonewall Community Foundation
Joanne Factor has been teaching self-defense for over 18 years. As owner and instructor at Strategic Living, LLC, she's taught ages 5 to 75, students and sorority sisters, homeless women and business executives, and everyone in between. Joanne's expertise has been featured on KIRO-TV, Q13's Washington's Most Wanted, KUOW 94.9 FM, and The Seattle Times Magazine (see Joanne has been a member of the NWMAF for over a decade, and is an NWMAF-Certified Self-Defense Instructor. She’s served on the Board of Directors for two terms (2006-2009) as the Director-at-Large for Self-Defense. She currently chairs the Awards Committee. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Joanne holds a BA from Cornell University, a black belt in karate, and was named Seattle's Best Feminist Butt-Kicker in 2007 by The Seattle Weekly. She is author of the forthcoming book Self-Defense 101: What Every Woman Absolutely, Positively Needs to Know for Her Own Safety.
Koré Grate is Executive Director and Head Instructor of F.E.M.A.-Five Element Martial Arts & Healing Center (formerly Feminist Eclectic Martial Arts), a non-profit organization founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1989. FEMA will celebrate its 25th anniversary in November this year. FEMA is dedicated to the empowerment of all people through martial arts, wellness, personal safety and self defense training so we may have a more peaceful community and planet. Originally, FEMA began its programming specifically for Women & Girls, and in the last few years has included all genders to train in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Koré is an NWMAF Certified Self Defense Instructor, a past Chair of NWMAF and serves on its Anti-Racism Council (ARC). She is one of the founding board members of the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists (PAWMA), served as PAWMA Vice-President and Elder Council, received PAWMA's Martial Artist of the Year award in 2005 and the PAWMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. She is currently Executive Director of AWMAI, the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors.Koré holds a sixth degree black belt in Wu Chien Pai (Judo, Jujitsu, Gong Fu, Internal Arts) and two black belts in Iaido.
Meg Hinkley, owner of Athena’s Strategies, has been teaching women to separate fact from fiction as it relates to their safety for over 15 years. Thousands of women have changed how they think about safety and their ability to protect themselves. More importantly, many seminar participants have avoided attacks or successfully fought their way to safety. As a survivor of sexual assault, Meg is passionate about sharing her knowledge and empowering women. Prior to forming Athena’s Strategies, Meg worked as a client executive for IBM. She earned her black belt in karate in 1988 and worked for several years with experts in martial arts and psychology to design Athena’s Strategies unique and relevant seminars.
Sally Johnson Van Wright is a Karateka and Modern Arnisadora, training since 1987 (5th and 3rd degrees black belts, respectively), and a grateful student and teacher at Valley Women's Martial Arts / Institute for Healing and Violence-Prevention Strategies in Easthampton, Massachusetts. She is an NWMAF Certified Self Defense Instructor, a lifetime member of NWMAF, and former Chair of its Board of Directors 2004-2007. Sally has been honored to serve as a Trainer at both NWMAF and PAWMA. She enjoys shared leadership and currently Co-Chairs the Anti-Racism Council/All Races Count/Active Respectful Communication group, with Sonya Richardson. A licensed clinical social worker, Sally directs a busy reentry center for people leaving incarceration (a service that should be very common in the US but isn't.) She serves as Adjunct Faculty for Springfield College's MSW program and nurtures a fierce passion for the intersection between theory and practice. Sally earned her pink ribbon in 2010 thanks to the heart-opening experience of breast cancer. Celebrate life.
Brenda Jones has been a member of The Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) in Brooklyn, NY since 1981. She has been a CAE student, volunteer, board member, karate instructor (adults, teens & children), staff member (full-time & part-time), member of various committees and anti-oppression groups within CAE, and a self-defense instructor. Currently, she is one of CAE’s senior self-defense instructors and the program instructor for CAE’s PACT (Power, Action, Change for Teens) program. Brenda also works as a case manager with the Safe Horizon Brooklyn Community Program (Safe Horizon is the largest victim assistance program in the US). In her not-so-spare time she sews her own clothes, attempts various craft projects, loves sci-fi & participates in various fat, queer, & POC activist movements.
Candice M. Kane, Ph.D., J.D. is the Chief Operating Officer of Cure Violence, responsible for oversight of all program activities, evaluation and research, and organization management. Dr. Kane is actively involved in the framing and implementation of policy, program development, drafting of program-related materials including training curricula and performance reports. Prior to joining Cure Violence, Dr. Kane was director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), a state planning and research agency, and part of the University of Chicago team that developed, implemented and tested the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Gang Model. While at ICJIA, she provided training and technical assistance to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault as it developed program standards, training curricula, and monitoring guidelines. She filled a similar function with the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Katy Mattingly, MSW, has developed, piloted, implemented, and evaluated Personal Safety Education & Self-Defense programming for the University of Michigan, including credited, academic courses and stand-alone workshops. She teaches Violence Prevention in College and Beyond to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as shorter workshops on violence prevention, bystander intervention, and risk reduction. Mattingly is the author of Self-Defense: Steps to Survival (Human Kinetics, 2007), trained in the IMPACT system, and was the director of WAMM Self-Defense in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1996-2005. As a survivor of sexual assault, Katy knows firsthand the challenges of learning self-defense and deeply honors each student's path to healing and freedom. She has been teaching for more than 18 years in a variety of venues, including corporations, universities, community centers, and domestic violence shelters.
Andra Medea was founder of Chimera, Inc., Self-Defense for Women, and co-author of Against Rape, one of the ground-breaking feminist books that opened the topic of violence against women. Her current work is developing programs on de-escalation and violence prevention, including preventing school violence and de-escalating people with mental health issues. Her latest book is Safe Within These Walls: De-escalating School Situations Before They Become Crises. She often teaches workshops on de-escalation skills for counselors who work in substance abuse prevention and with people with dual diagnoses. The target audience includes community based mental health counselors, school counselors, child welfare workers, probation officers, and others who need to de-escalate volatile situations.
Susan Moesker, Community Violence Prevention Program Coordinator Susan has served as a CAE Instructor since 2000, before which she was a CAE karate student. Prior to joining CAE's staff, Susan served as Director of Programs at Mentoring USA, New York City’s largest, site-based, one-to-one mentoring program for youth. She has over 20 years of experience working for community organizations: developing, conducting, and growing programming, as well as providing direct social services for various under-served populations, including child abuse survivors and teen and adult sexual assault survivors. Susan has a BA from Columbia, and a Master’s from NYU, and because she can’t get enough of this work (or maybe it follows her?), she currently volunteers on the Safety Committee at her children’s public school.
Lori O'Connell, owner of Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu in Vancouver, Canada, holds the rank of 5th Degree black belt in Can-ryu Jiu-jitsu, a Japanese style primarily focused on self-defense and law enforcement, with 20 years training and 17 years teaching experience. She is the author of Tuttle Publishing's book When the Fight Goes to the Ground, which was based on her recreation of the approach to ground defense for her style. In addition to teaching Jiu-jitsu at her dojo, she regularly teaches women's self-defense and travels to teach Jiu-jitsu/self-defense seminars at martial arts schools and conferences across Canada and the United States, including the annual Canadian Jiu-jitsu Union summer and winter camps for the past 5 years, as well as PAWMA's annual training camp in 2013. Outside of the dojo, Lori is also a stunt performer for the Vancouver film industry. For more info, visit
Chief Instructor Sonya Richardson has been training in the martial arts since 1989. She received her 3rd degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo under Professor Coleen Gragen, and was promoted to 5th degree by her current teacher, Professor Barbara Bones. She holds a Sandan in Kenpo Karate. Sonya serves as the head instructor of Hand to Hand Kajukenbo•Self Defense Center, in Oakland, CA, established in 1980 by the late Professor Coleen Gragen.In her life off the training floor, Sonya is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, having practiced for 26 years. Her role as a physical therapist includes teaching weekly balance and fall prevention classes for seniors, as well as community screenings. She regularly integrates her knowledge from physical therapy as the foundation for classes taught at, PAWMA and AWMAI camps.Sonya was named Martial Artist of the Year in 2011 by PAWMA and currently serves PAWMA’s president.
Janell Sails has dedicated the last seven years of her life to stopping violence on Chicago’s Southside. Hired in 2007 as Chicago’s first female Violence Interrupter, she now works both as a VI in Cure Violence’s Southside community programs and as a member of the hospital response team. In this latter role, she fills the gap between the hospital and the streets, connecting victims of shooting violence with Cure Violence’s community-based programs to keep them from being reinjured. Janelle grew up in Chicago’s Southside Englewood neighborhood, struggling to stay in school and then to earn a living. She’s now starting college again, intent on earning an Associate’s Degree in business administration in 2016 and then going on to earn a BA and an MSW. Among her recent accomplishments are gathering together and mentoring 25 young women in each of two ten-week focus groups.
Alena Schaim is the Executive Director and an Instructor at IMPACT Personal Safety, as well as Vice President of IMPACT International. She has worked on issues of gender and violence for over a decade, including two years with Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families in Santa Fe. She focuses on exploring how pop culture and systems of oppression interact with individuals' personal safety choices, as well as the interaction between different cultures' approaches to safety and larger social goals. Alena is a member of the steering committee for The Network in Albuquerque and a member of the Coordinated Community Response Council in Santa Fe, both coalitions are working to end domestic and sexual violence in New Mexico. She is also a member of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She has been studying Tae Kwon Do for two years and this will be her first NWMAF SDIC conference.
George Schorn, PhD is a Nidan (second-degree black belt) in the World Seido Karate Organization, and currently teaches at Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self-Defense in Austin, Texas under Sensei Joy Williamson. She has studied at Sun Dragon since 1999. Schorn has taught self-defense using the Empowerment model since about 2000. She’s also taught in extremely varied settings, including bars, academic classes, bookstores, and open-air venues. Schorn’s students have ranged from pre-schoolers to seniors, but are primarily teen- through middle-age. She’s taught co-ed classes, classes for LGBT teens, all-women classes, and one or two all-male classes.
Lee Sinclair is a Women’s Safety Project certified defense instructor who has been teaching Empowerment Defense for 4 years. Sinclair founded an empowerment/efficacy/defense/intervention program for girls and boys in Nairobi, Kenya called No Means No Worldwide (NMNW). NMNW has a staff of over 80 male and female trainers, a dozen manuals, teaching materials, certification processes and procedures, curriculums and month long training intensives. NMNW teaches approximately 70,000-90,000 students per year. Sinclair is the published author of an empowerment defense research paper in Journal of Adolescent Health and has another research report under review at Pediatrics Journal. Six additional research projects are in the works with researchers at Stanford University and the Harvard Kennedy School. Sinclair teaches the feminist empowerment model of defense and harnesses much of that experience for use in teaching intervention skills to boys.
Jaye Spiro has been involved with anti-violence training for over forty years. She began studying Karate in 1971 and was an early pioneer in the development of self-defense courses for women. She was the first chair of NWMAF and headed the Self Defense Teacher Certification Committee for ten years. She was on the first team to offer the Self Defense Empowerment Model program at ST. Jaye directs Mejishi Martial Arts in Detroit, Michigan. A member of the Michigan Karate Hall of Fame, Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors Hall of Fame, 2012 recipient of the Founders Award for NWMAF, and member of the year in 2013, Jaye is a sixth degree black belt in Karate and also Modern Arnis. Jaye also has practiced and studied of Zen mindfulness meditation as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh since 2007.
Lauren R. Taylor has been working in the movement to end gender-based violence since 1978 and teaching self-defense since 1986. She’s taught classes to thousands of Washington, DC-area women, teens, children, and men from all walks of life. She specializes in classes for women, for people with disabilities, for LGBTQ people, and for survivors of abuse and assault. Lauren was one of the founders of the Self-Defense Instruction Conference and has presented at SDIC on such topics as De-escalation, Facing Our Internalized Oppressions as Teachers, and Teaching Queer Youth of Color. In 2004, Lauren was part of the team that presented the model self-defense course. Lauren has published widely on interpersonal violence, including in The Washington Post, the Justice Department’s NIJ Journal, and Everyday Feminism. Lauren recently co-founded Safe Bars, a program that uses bystander education and self-defense strategies to empower DC-area bar staff to stand up against sexual harassment and assault. Safe Bars was recently featured on NPR’s health news blog and Slate’s XX blog.
Nadia Telsey has been part of the anti-violence movement since the 70's, as co-founder of Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts (aka The Center for Anti-Violence Education) and a co-founder of NWMAF. She has taught at numerous Special Trainings and PAWMA camps and also served as a member of the self-defense certification board of NWMAF. Nadia has been an SD instructor at the University of Oregon, Director/Outreach Coordinator of a rape crisis center and served as ba member of both the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force. Publications include a workbook and curriculum, Self Defense from the Inside Out and a curriculum for people who have developmental disabilities called Strong, Safe and Free. She is nurtured by those she has taught –touched by the obstacles they have faced and awed at their courage. Her greatest joy is when participants find or strengthen their voices for peace and justice in the world. Honors and awards include Founding Mother's Award (NWMAF); Lifetime Achievement Award (PAWMA); Human Rights Award (City of Eugene); Diane Award (University of Oregon); and Change Award (Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force).
Martha Thompson is a senior instructor and director emeritus of IMPACT Chicago, a personal safety, assertiveness, and self-defense training program where women have the opportunity to practice full-force self-defense techniques in simulated scenarios with a padded attacker and a personal coach. She is the IMPACT Chicago representative to IMPACT International, a network of independent chapters. Martha holds a 4th degree black belt in Seido karate and studies with Nancy Lanoue and Sarah Ludden at Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center. She is an NWMAF certified self-defense instructor, served on the NWMAF Self-Defense Instructor Certification Board, co-organized two years of SDIC, and has presented numerous workshops at SDIC. She is also Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Northeastern Illinois University. She has written several articles on women’s self-defense, including “Empowering Self-Defense Training,” “Building Bridges Against Violence,” “Kicking Down the Barriers: Self-Defense and Social Change,” and “The Power of No.”
Yuko Uchikawa is a martial artist, a self-defense instructor, and a certified mediator. She has been working in the anti-violence and peace education fields since 1993. Co-founder of Ruckus Safety Awareness, a self-defense organization in New York and Japan, she has taught workshops and trained instructors both nationally and internationally. Founder of OpenTalk, Uchikawa provides mediation and conflict resolution trainings for individuals, families, and organizations. She also serves as a mediator at the New York Center for Interpersonal Development, resolving early intervention, special education, custody/visitation, small claims, and community cases. In 2013 she was trained as a peacemaker by the Red Hook Justice Center, a program of the Center for Court Innovation, to hold restorative dialogues as an alternative to sentencing for the community court of Brooklyn, New York. The combined experience of self-defense, conflict resolution, and mediation makes Uchikawa a unique practitioner and educator. She is dedicated to building peace in each community she is privileged to serve.
Kate L. Webster, Ph.D. is the founder of Breaking Thru Barriers (BtB) and has over 25 years educating and consulting on issues of empowerment, gender equality, and assertive communication. Prior to creating BtB, she was the Director of Violence Prevention Programs at Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center where she taught self-defense and violence prevention programs throughout the Chicago area. She had a desire to move in a new direction and provide presentations and trainings on a wider range of empowerment issues that impact all areas of one’s life. She is a certified self-defense instructor through NWMAF and a third degree black belt in Seido Karate and has presented at national conferences and past SDIC conferences along with teaching the SDEMC course. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at Dominican and DePaul Universities in the fields of education, sociology, and gender studies and an academic author.
Joy Williamson took her first self-defense class with Suzanne Pinette in Austin, Texas in 1994, and was inspired and began training in both karate and self-defense. She received a black belt in Kyokushin Karate in 2000, and her self-defense instructor certification from NWMAF in 2007. At her teacher’s request, she took over as head instructor of Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self-Defense in 2004. She began training in Seido Karate with Nancy Lanoue and Sarah Ludden and received her third-degree black belt in 2012. Joy taught the self-defense empowerment model course at SDIC-ST 2010 with Clara Porter. At home, she teaches self-defense for women and girls, and anyone who asks. She teaches a monthly workshop at the Crisis Cole Rehabilitation Center for blind and visually impaired adults. She loves exploring issues of anger management, conflict resolution and violence prevention in self-defense workshops and with her karate students. She still lives, trains and teaches at Sun Dragon in Austin and commutes regularly to train at Thousand Waves in Chicago.
Selected Presenters in the Healing Arts Path
Shinshii Janet Aalfs has been teaching peace-building; martial arts healing, empowerment, and safety skills; and poetic expression locally, nationally, and internationally, to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds for 30+ years. Aalfs is a founding member of NWMAF, the Self-Defense Instructor Certification program, and the Anti-Racism Council. She continues to mentor women and girls as leaders, and has been a featured performer and facilitator at many martial arts and poetry conferences. Since 1982, she has directed Valley Women's Martial Arts: Institute for Healing and Violence-Prevention Strategies, and in 2013 received the UMass Center for Women and Community: Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award. Poet laureate of Northampton, MA from 2003-2005, her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including A Fierce Brightness: 25 Years of Women's Poetry; Contemporary American Voices; Martial Arts Teachers on Teaching and Women in the Martial Arts. Her most recent collection of poems is Bird of a Thousand Eyes, Levellers Press.
Wendi Dragonfire  has been training in martial arts since 1971. She holds a 9th degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate and a 2nd degree Black Belt in Modern Arnis. Dragonfire is a direct student of the late Robert A. Trias and the late Professor Remy A. Presas. Among the founding members of NWMAF, she is one of the foremothers of the feminist self-defense movement. She has received many awards and has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, but her proudest award moment was when she received the NWMAF "Award of Excellence" in 2001. Wendi loves and lives to teach. Her classes are informative, practical, relaxed and fun. Her goal has always been to make Martial Arts and Self Defense accessible to everyone, regardless of ability, especially to people who have typically been marginalized. A resident of the Netherlands, she teaches locally, nationally and internationally. Combining the energy work of Martial Arts with that of Healing Touch has helped Wendi to be a better, more compassionate and proficient teacher, practitioner and friend.
Tiffany Wolf (Tif) has been training in Goju Karate since 1995 at the Center for Anti-Violence Education in Park Slope, and she completed the Self-Defense teacher training program. She’s been teaching karate since 2000. Tif enjoys running in Prospect Park (and the occasional Brooklyn Half Marathon), as well as taking boutique fitness classes like spinning and boot camp. In fact, it was the fun, positive energy of cardio fitness classes that inspired Tif to create Fight Back Fitness, blending simple, practical self-defense moves and great music for a unique cardio workout. The class is currently offered in Brooklyn and Manhattan as a fitness class with a purpose!

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