FREE Girls Fight Back! Program in NC

Hope anyone close to the Piedmont Triad Area of North Carolina will join me for the fun, free event!  At 11am on Saturday, June 12th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Exciting Events in NC

March is already starting out to be an exciting month for me.  I’ll be doing Fight Back Productions gigs in Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Florida.  Crazy!

But in between the out of town excursions, there are some exciting things going on right here in town that I want to share with you.  I hope that if you are in NC you’ll come and join me!

First up, at 3pm on Saturday, March 13th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Also in the realm of violence prevention, from March 12th thru March 27th; V-Day Greensboro will be presenting staged readings of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer at Open Space Café Theatre in Greensboro, NC.  These very adult oriented productions explore how our society affects the way women view their bodies and the way that violence impacts the lives of women around the globe.  I’ll be performing in A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer, so come check it out and say hi to me afterwards! The Vagina Monologues performs March 11, 13, and 26 at 8pm. A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer performs March 12, 25, and 27 at 8pm.  Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door or make reservations by calling (336) 687-1319.  All proceeds go to The Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation in Greensboro NC.

If you aren’t in North Carolina, you can find out more about the V-day campaign and look for events in your area by checking out www.vday.org.  And be sure to check out our FBP calendar at www.fightbackproductions.com/calendar to when we’ll be in your neck of the woods!

WAM!

I’m so jazzed after presenting Girls Fight Back! at Georgia Tech tonight that I simply had to come share this fierce picture right away!

Thanks to all the ladies who came out and especially to Lorin who put this amazing event together.  I love my WAM swag!  BTW – WAM stands for Women’s Awareness Month and I was thrilled to be the kick-off event for what promises to be an incredible month of programming at GA Tech.  If you are in the Atlanta area, check out their website at cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/wam for info on their upcoming events!

Fight Back Fall Tour Wraps Up at Loyola

Well, folks, that’s all she wrote. The Fight Back Productions 2009 Fall Tour has come to an end. And I can’t think a more perfect place to sign off than on the shores of beautiful lake Michigan at Loyola University in Chicago, hometown of our esteemed founder, Erin Weed.

I brought Students Fight Back to an enthusiastic group of men and women who sacrificed part of their valuable Saturday night learning to be their own best protectors. A big thanks to the rock stars of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, which sponsored the event. Their eagerness to help spread this important message is truly inspiring. And I must say, they’ve got a natural knack for laying the smack down.

OK, ass kicking aside, I have to ask an honest question. Is it completely and totally lame that it’s 10:01 on a Saturday night, I’m in possibly the most fun city in the country, and I’m alone in a hotel room bed in flannel pajamas? Could I morph into my grandmother a little faster please? But I gotta tell ya, speaking really takes it out of you. It was all I could do to drag my ass into Chipotle (I know – a real Chicago original), snarf down a burrito and then crawl into bed. I’m so ashamed.

But tomorrow! Oh tomorrow, Chi-town, you and I will spend some quality time together. After I’ve had a good night’s sleep. And possibly another burrito.

Michaela Jackson, reporting from the GFB ’09 Fall Tour, over and out.

October Newsletter

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Dear Friends,

I’d like you to meet our Marketing Coordinator, Jenn Doe. Her design and marketing work is amazing, but that’s not why I’m introducing you to her today. She and I have a lot in common. We both lost a dear friend to senseless violence in our early 20s. We both find peace and healing in working to prevent violence against women and girls. We both believe that anti-violence and self-defense education can make this world a safer place.

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jenn has bravely decided to share her personal story in an incredibly public way. I hope you’re able to learn something from her experience. Please print out this fact sheet Jenn designed about recognizing signs of domestic violence, and what to do about it. Feel free to print and share it with women you care about, because love shouldn’t hurt! We need to tell this to our girls, early and often.

Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified.

Erin Weed


Two years ago, I sat anxiously waiting for 11 strangers to make a decision that would determine the fate of a young man’s life and substantiate the facts that I knew to be true. The charges against him included assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and murder in the first degree. I had met him in junior high and by high school we were in love. We felt like we could take on the world and were sure we would be together forever. After high school, we got married and eventually moved to the big city where I could further my education and there was more opportunity for us both. For the first time in the relationship, I wasn’t working and my husband was the sole provider. This began to create tension in the relationship which proved too much for me to handle. I needed some time away to focus on school, and made the difficult decision to leave.

He didn’t take this very well and became enraged and violent, damaging my property and using physical force against me. He was arrested that day and I moved out. I was visited by victim advocates who explained my rights to me, a protection order was served, and he was charged with harassment. It didn’t stop there, though. We maintained contact over the next few months, but I wasn’t willing to go back to him. I moved in with my best friend, Pam, and tried to work on myself and starting over.

Things were going pretty well for me. Finals were around the corner and my friendship with Pam was becoming stronger every day. We had been friends for 10 years, since grade school, and we adored each other. From the day that we met, we had an instant and unbreakable bond. There were rough patches along the way, and we didn’t always agree, but we always found our way back. We loved and accepted each other unconditionally and planned to be friends for the rest of our lives.


On a cold December night, after a day of job hunting and public service, Pam and I stopped by my old apartment, where my husband was now living with his brother. He had called me earlier in the week saying that I had a package to pick up, and I thought nothing of it. After about an hour of casual conversation between the three of us, I realized I was sadly mistaken. Pam left the room to use the bathroom, and before I knew what was happening, he attacked us both.

He pepper sprayed me before stabbing me twice; once in the face, knocking me to the floor and breaking my tooth, and once in the side. I later found out I had a broken rib and a punctured lung. Pam suffered multiple wounds to the neck, one of which proved to be fatal. The ambulance arrived and we were taken separately to the hospital, where I would spend the next 8 days. At 22 years old, my best friend and I became victims of violence at the hands of a man we both loved and trusted. On October 2nd, 2007, he was found guilty on all counts and would serve a life sentence for his selfish actions.

Over time, my wounds have healed and I have come to see myself as a survivor, not a victim, but it took a long time. It was hard for me to see this as domestic violence, because I imagined that as something that happened to other women, not me. The truth is that some seemingly good men behave very differently when their egos are bruised, and things like this happen ALL THE TIME. Every nurse in the hospital had a story to share with me when they heard mine and thier stories made me realize I wasn’t alone.

I kept going to school and got my BFA in Graphic Design, using art as an outlet for my pain. I did research about the patterns of violence and how these things come to happen, and I began to realize that I had missed the red flags because NO ONE HAD EVER TOLD ME what they were. The more I learned, the more I knew that I had to find way to make sure that other women get this information before it’s too late.

That’s when I found Girls Fight Back and applied for an internship, then to be a speaker, and then I just begged for any opportunity to carry on the work that Erin Weed had started. Lucky for me, she was pregnant and in need of help and I was local and available. I’ve been helping with marketing and design since May of this year, and it has been and continues to be an amazing and healing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some of the best self-defense experts around and have fallen in love with kicking ass and learning to live a safer life. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this company and how it can change the world.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, I have created a fact sheet containing critical information about the patterns and warning signs of domestic violence. Please pass this on to the people you love, your sisters, daughters, nieces, and friends, because this kind of information just might save a few lives. Thank you for letting me share my story and the memory of a kind, beautiful, talented, and loving young woman named Pam.

Jenn Doe

For life saving tips, download our DV Fact Sheet and read Erin Weed’s book. Don’t forget to check us out on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter!

DV Fact Sheet

The Fightin’ Women of Kent State!

First of all, thanks to Heather for posting Kent State’s shoutout to Girls Fight Back – especially love that photo!

That said, I wanted to follow up on the “official perspective” with some thoughts of my own. First off, who knew that it would be downright COLD in Ohio in late September? This southern girl (I hail from warm and humid Nashville) was caught completely unprepared for that brisk northern air! I told the girls at Kent State Wednesday night that my trip to their neck of the woods taught me something important about myself: I am a complete wimp when it comes to the cold! Hats off to them for braving wet and chilly fall weather – and much greater challenges (i.e. snow drifts up to the waist!) later in the season.

But cold weather not withstanding, the event was AWESOME! The energy these ladies brought to the table was second-to-none and it was such a pleasure to spend a couple of hours with them! I want to visit Kent every week – between the months of April and August, when it’s nice and warm.

Just kidding, of course.

Kent State, thanks for being such a fantastic host, and showing me – and the world – your fighting spirit! You go girls!

Buckeyes Fight Back at Ohio State!

Wet weather in Columbus, Ohio last night moved Welcome Week festivities hosted by Alpha Phi Sorority indoors, but that did stop a group of more than 200 sutdents from kicking ass and taking names! Students Fight Back rocked the Ohio State RPAC yesterday for an awesome crowd of men and women fired up about being their own best protectors.

The seminar was awesome, and everyone walked away pumped with energy – which is a really good thing, because the event following SFB was no spectator sport. Hundreds of students crammed into the huge gymnasium for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest pillow fight. Alpha Phi even had pillowcases custom printed with the Students Fight Back logo for everyone who attended. Thank god for Welcome Week events giving out something other than t-shirts, right? These pillows are awesome (mine particularly came in handy on my 6 a.m. flight home this morning!)!

Ohio State is undeniably one of the nation’s largest universities, and boy do they have the spirit to match. Thanks to everyone who made last night’s event such a success! And good luck holding on to that pillow fight record!

Maria High School girls get their FIGHT on!

It’s Sunday at 8:30 p.m. here in rainy Nashville, and the week is (finally!) winding down. But before I let this one get away for good, I just had to stop and tell everyone that Maria High School might just be the coolest high school in beautiful Chicago. I spent an incredible hour with the ladies there this past Thursday, and I can’t say enough about their rockin’ energy level. Don’t let the sweet Catholic schoolgirl outfits fool you – these girls have serious personality! They even teamed up to make uber-creative Girls Fight Back posters, and gave me the (impossible) job of juding the best.

But spunk aside, these girls are committed to being their own best protectors, equipped with the tools they need to stay safe and fired up about FIGHTING BACK!

Thanks to everyone at Maria who made the event a smashing success, and thanks especially to the girls, who brought their A-game and demonstrated in living color what Girls Fight Back is all about. You go girls!

Remember the Alamo

AlamoI am sitting on my return flight from San Antonio right now after only 3 hours of sleep and wondering what possessed me to take the earliest available flight today.  But, hey I’ll be home before I know it, right?

My time in San Antonio has been brief (less than 24 hours), but awesome!  I have loved the weather (hot and humid – just like home) and actually got to do a little sight seeing!  My hotel room wasn’t ready when I got in, so I cruised on downtown and took in the sights at Riverwalk and the Alamo.

But I wasn’t here to enjoy the attractions!  I was here to deliver a Students Fight Back presentation at the University of Texas – San Antonio and man, those kids were awesome!  As soon as I got there the room flooded with volunteers from the Campus Activities Board, Student Wellness Center, Women’s Resource Center, peer educators, etc. etc.  They were all excited and ready to rock.  We got started pretty late, but hey, college kids are used to late nights!  The presentation was great and very interactive.  Afterwards, I stuck around to take some of the audience through some ground fighting techniques.  And the best part of all?  I didn’t get lost!  Not on the way to UTSA and not going back to the hotel!  For me, that makes a really great gig!

FBP productions will be back in Texas in just a little over a week to deliver the goods at Texas State University – San Marcos and Baylor University.  It isn’t too late to get your school on our rockin’ Fall 2009 tour! Contact us for more info!

Self Defense Classes

We often get asked about self-defense classes. What are the best classes to take, where can I find one, what are the differences between them…Well, I have asked all of these questions, too, and know that I am training to become an expert on personal safety and self-defense, I decided to do the research for you and share my findings on this lovely little blog!

So, I’ve heard alot about this thing called Krav Maga, an Israeli form of martial arts. People have told me that this is the only style of martial arts that applies to real world situations, so last week, I decided to check it out for myself. I contacted the Denver studio via their website and was invited to try a free class. I arrived at the studio, located in the thriving Five Points neighborhood, as the intermediate class was finishing up. While I filled out the typical sign-your-life-away paperwork that studios such as this require, I observed the class as it finished up. It seemed quite intense so I asked the receptionist if this was an intermediate class and when she responded that it was, I felt relieved. Clearly my beginner’s class wouldn’t be so intense, or so I thought…

We started, as many martial arts classes do, by lining up at the front of the room and taking a bow. Then we went right into jumping jacks (something that my muscles remember vaguely from high school) then alternated with push-ups and some basic blocks with a partner. I asked the woman I was attempting to punch if this was a self-defense class or more of a cardio-kickboxing class. She assured me that it is a self-defense class with a very intense warm-up. After this we moved to the floor for ab-work (another distant memory for my core muscles) and then did a little stretching. The tone of the warm-up was similar to what I picture boot camp to feel like; a super tough guy yelling at you and attempting to break you down. By the end of the warm-up, I was terrified, but I didn’t run.

Next we got with a partner and practiced hitting pads with our palm-heel. This was getting fun. As a student of FAST Defense, I have grown to appreciate my adrenaline as an important survival tool, and I love self-defense classes that give me an opportunity to channel it and make it work for me. Next we moved into some attack scenarios, first watching the instructor and his assistant walk through a frontal choking situation. He showed us how to get out of this and what not to do, then we broke it down into steps and practiced one step at a time with our partners. We started with a block, then added a palm strike, and finally added a knee to the groin. The order and speed in which we learned this was very easy to understand and really simplified the moves. Throughout the class, the instructor came around and offered feedback and criticism on our form and force.

We ended the class the way we started, with jumping-jacks, push-ups, and ab-work, but this time we had to move quickly from the floor into palm strikes and back again. This helped to prepare us for the idea that we may have to get off the ground and fight for our lives at some point, so we should be ready. The yelling and intensity of the class in general was also directly relevant to real-life situations. Most attackers will not walk up to you and quietly ask you to cooperate. It is much more likely that they will come in swinging or grabbing and screaming obscenities, so this type of training really helps to desensitize us. In addition to Krav Maga being a great way to get some practical self-defense training, it is also an AWESOME work out! I left the class completely in love and wanting to continue. Unfortunately, it is not cheap and I am financially challenged at the moment so I chose not to buy a membership, but if I could, I would.

The fortunate thing about not committing to one type of training is that now I can go take free classes in all sorts of martial arts studios and report back on how they differ. An artist friend of mine is an expert in Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. He approached me about building him a website and I agreed to trade my design services for his expertise. Last Wednesday was day one, so I don’t have alot to share yet, but as I learn more, I’ll keep you posted. So far, all I can really say about Wing Chun is that it’s main focus is on protecting the center-line of the body. It is a very slow and meditative practice and the polar opposite of Krav Maga.

That’s all for now, but check back next week for an update and take advantage of the free classes offered in your area (most studios will allow you to try one free before signing up). Peace.

Jenn Doe
Marketing Intern