Denver Self-Defense Classes

Girls Fight Back started in Hoboken, New Jersey in 2001 at a place called The Bar at 10th and Willow. Why a bar, you ask? Because the manager – a guy named Mario – had 7 sisters, believed in what I was doing and gave me the space for free. After getting certified by the American Women’s Self Defense Association as an instructor, I began holding weekend classes in the bar, and women all over the tri-state area attended. I remember banging on Mario’s apartment door at 10 am, so he’d let me into the bar to start class. (He went to bed at 6 am on weekends, so he probably cursed my name a lot those mornings…)

Today I’m excited to announce a new partnership with Denver’s coolest yoga hot spot, Spiral Yoga & Wellness. Starting November 21st, I will be teaching a 2-hour women’s self-defense workshop at Spiral once a month. (Normally the workshops will take place on the 2nd Saturday of each month – except for the first one in November, which is the 3rd Saturday.) Then in January 2010 I’ll start teaching an ongoing self-defense class every Wednesday night from 7 – 8:30 pm. (Whoop-Ass Wednesdays) These weekly classes are structured like yoga. Pay as you go, $15 per class, come every week or just once a month…no contracts, so you decide! (Note: You must attend one of our 2-hour workshops as a pre-requisite before starting weekly classes with me in January. This way, all students will begin the classes with an understanding of verbal self-defense, prevention strategies and other basic fundamentals. If you can’t make the Nov. 21 workshop, be sure to attend the one on December 12.)

Teaching again is very exciting for me. For the past few years I’ve been mostly speaking, writing and traveling. My average crowd size tends to be in the hundreds, sometimes even more than a thousand. But getting back to the basics, teaching a small group of spirited women and girls…well, I find this invigorating. I hope you’ll join me…please spread the word. Space is limited! Here are details for the first workshop:

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009
2:00 – 4:00 pm
@ Spiral Yoga & Wellness
4106 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
$20 per person (women/girls ages 12 and up)
Click here for details and registration

Girls Fight Back! at Northern Arizona University

NAUWell, the Girls Fight Back! Fall Tour is coming a to a close and I have to say that Northern Arizona University was a GREAT way for me to close out my first Girls Fight Back! tour. First, let me just a give a shout out to the fantastic Arizona weather. I was greeted in Flagstaff by sunny skies and 70 degrees. The fun just kept coming and I cannot say enough good things about NAU or its students.

The NAU crowd was so energetic and I left feeling truly inspired and lucky to have my job. One thing this job has taught me is that, while there is violence in this world and it can seem senseless and pervasive, there are also hope and success stories. I think that focusing on those two things and making an effort to make them more common is a better focus and I feel so blessed to be a part of an company that does that. After every seminar, people came up to me and told me how dangerous they felt or that they felt more prepared should they encounter a violent situation. I have also had people share stories of how violence has affected them and then thank me for making them feel empowered.

However, I think it’s more appropriate for me to thank all of the wonderful people who brought Girls Fight Back! to their school or company and all the inspirational people who sat in the audience and learned how to lead a safer life and fight back. Thank you for welcoming me, being open to our mission and helping spread that mission. You have made our fall tour amazing and I can’t wait to see what spring has in store for Girls Fight Back!

Girls Fight Back at Quinnipiac (Hey! I’m a Poet!)

Can I just start out by indulging my inner child and saying that I just really enjoy the word “Quinnipiac”? I’m sorry. It’s just a fun word. And don’t judge me for having so much fun with it – life’s a whole lot more fun when you can appreciate the little things, right?

Great. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me say that bringing Girls Fight Back to Quinnipiac (I’m sorry but that little rhyme will never get old!) University last Wednesday was even more fun than saying Quinnipiac 10 times fast. The women were fantastic – several groups partnered to make the program possible, and the spirit of collective excitement was almost tangible.

The “Can O’Whoopass” portion of the program was particularly funtastic. I was blown away by the enthusiasm in the crowd – and so were our scary bad guys (count not one, but THREE altruistic male volunteers!).

On top of the program itself, which could not have gone better, I really enjoyed visiting New England for the first time. I couldn’t have asked for a better time of year to make the acquaintance of the Northeast. It was cold and rainy and gray, and it seemed just perfect. Idyllic. I figure I’ll probably own several houses there someday, when I’m rich and famous. And I’ll have a private chef to prepare delicious clam chowder and lobster for my enjoyment every day. And I’ll think of the girls at Quinnipiac University, who helped to kindle my love for the region with their overwhelming exuberance and first-rate kick-ass-ery.

And now, because I’m trying to hit critical mass of cheese in this post, a haiku for you:

New England aflame
with color and girl power
Quinnipiac fight!

Urbana University

I always tend to start the program with a story, or sometimes a question about the area I’m in. Urbana was easy, because it is in OH and somewhat close to Cleveland. I remember as a kid we would always go to Sea World of Cleveland…I couldn’t get enough of it!

As an adult I look back at that and think…Sea World in CA? Yep- makes sense. FL? Absolutely! Texas – yes, right on the Coast! But Sea World of Cleveland!!???  Ummm…ok?

Sea World of Cleveland (shockingly)is no longer open…but we got a good laugh.

I had a really fun night here. The SAC members were really helpful getting everything set up and it’s clear they work hard to put together some really great programs for their campus. I loved the advertising that had been done for Girls Fight Back. I got to campus early and answered a few emails in the student union. The table I was at had a little cut out of a boxing glove with an invite to the program. Then again in the ladies room…it was kinda funny to see Erin Weed’s smiling face on the door of every stall.

The students were awesome. They asked some great questions and got really involved. Pete Floyd, a self defense instructor from the community also attended. He wanted to learn a bit more about GFB and how he too could help the students. I always appreciate that and enjoyed having him there.

Urbana was a wonderful school, with equally wonderful students.  All of us at Fight Back Productions were so very sorry to hear of the loss of fellow student Andia Shisler. Our thoughts continue to be with you all and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet you.

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Salt Lake City – From KJZZ to SLCC!

I was recently lucky enough to bring Fight Back to Utah and I had an insanely great time, despite my trip starting off with a somewhat awkward encounter at the Portland Airport. As a side note, thank you to my unnamed family member who decided to store his giant screwdrivers in one of my carry on bags causing a “situation” at the airport. That aside, the rest of the trip was great. KJZZ News at Nine was very generous to have me on their morning show and share the Girls Fight Back Message with their viewers. Their anchors were so enthusiastic about our mission and the segment was fun, informative and such a positive step in spreading our message.

Luckily for me, the fun did not end there! Right after KJZZ, I hopped in my car and drove over to Salt Lake City Community College for a Students Fight Back seminar. The students and staff at SLCC are amazing and a very enthusiastic, welcoming crowd. We had a great seminar with great participation and questions from the audience. There really is no comparison to seeing staff and students yell, “Stop! Leave me alone! I don’t want any problems” at each other and then practice the badass ballet and call each other “creepy weirdos.” It is just plain awesome!

In short, Utah was great. KJZZ was amazing and SLCC was an absolute blast. Thanks for the memories! Watch the first part of my KJZZ interview at:
https://connect2utah.com/media_player.php?media_id=73491.

15-Year-Old Gang Raped

Heather touched on this subject in her recent post, but I also felt compelled to add something. This week in California, a 15 year old girl was gang-raped outside of a Homecoming dance in Oakland. That statement alone made me sick to my stomach. When police said as many as 10 people were involved in the assault, while another 10 people watched without calling 911, that’s 10 human beings who did NOTHING as another was being so brutally assaulted!! That is…I just have no words for that.

It’s easy for us to explain away or perhaps deal with that one “monster” or that one loaner who did horrible things to another.  But here , where we’re dealing with 10-15 individuals (many of whom are not even of legal age to be tried as adults)all at once and all against one girl…you have to ask yourself, truly, where IS the humanity? This is something so much bigger than this incident, this is something inherently wrong with society.

I’m not going to write a long post about these individuals. This is not about them, they don’t deserve my energy right now.  

I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months talking to young women and teaching them to fight, hoping I’ve helped spread valuable messages about survival. Girls Fight Back does teach self- defense, but we know that this is only part of that survival.

Police said this attack lasted over 2 hours. For over 2 hours a 15 year old girl endured the most cruel, the most heinous, the most brutal attack I can possibly imagine. I don’t know where you have to go in your head and your heart and your soul to survive that…but somehow… she did.

So to her- I send my thoughts and prayers. I hope you know how many people are also thinking of you and wishing you well. I hope you know how strong you are and I hope you have people around you who remind you of that every day.

I hope the courage that was with you that night is with you always…

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!

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!

13 year old fights back!

There is an interesting article in the NY Post about a 13 year old girl who used feigned compliance to get her attacker to relax his grip until she could run away and get help.  What is most interesting to me is the way that this attack has affected her.  I think some times in our society we think “well, this was only an attempted kidnapping or attempted rape, so she didn’t really get hurt.”  Even though this encounter only lasted a few minutes, it has still greatly changed the way this young child feels about and perceives the world.  We as a society need to remember to have compassion with all victims and survivors regardless of what they have endured.

I hope and pray that years from now, when she has regained her trust in humanity, she will remember this final statement she made in court:

“There is only one good thing that came out of this,” she said. “I showed other little kids that they can fight back. You can always fight back to the bad person that’s trying to hurt you.”

Fall Tour Kicks Off!

This past Monday was the official kick off of our Fall 2009 Tour! I had the pleasure of speaking at the College of Notre Dame at Maryland and man, were those girls awesome!

As I was traveling to the campus, I was enjoying the sights of beautiful downtown Baltimore when I suddenly came upon a huge mass of people crossing the road.  Now, I’m not a big sports fan, but I realized immediately from their matching purple garb that they must have all been going to a game.  Oh well, I thought, I’ve got plenty of time to get there and my trusty GPS to guide me.  As I kept driving the directions I was being given like a good girl, I realized that I was getting closer and closer to the action.  I was going to drive right by the stadium where the Jets and Ravens were playing a pre-season game (ended up being an intense one with a final score of 24-23, Ravens).  And that’s when my GPS instructed me to turn right into the preferred fans parking lot (which requires a parking pass).  I knew I was in trouble.  It wasn’t long before I was frantically asking passers-by for directions while my GPS beeped wildly at me for going off course.  I finally pulled off into a gas station parking lot, my GPS reconfigured my route, and before I could shout “Go Ravens” out of my car window, I was back on the road heading towards CNDM.

Once I arrived on campus, we had a few kinks to overcome including a missing lav mic and a relocated presentation that didn’t end until 30 minutes before I was supposed to start my program. But you know what? None of that mattered one bit! I was still ready to roll a good 10 minutes prior to our start time and the technology gods were smiling on us because my powerpoint and our awesome FBP promo video both ran smoothly (well, mostly smoothly).

This group of girls was funny and so on top of it.  One girl offered to let me use her pepper spray to demo and when I started answering questions, they fired off answers so quickly I couldn’t tell who was saying what.  By the end of the night, I’d decided the best word to describe them was spunky!

All-in-all I’d say it was a great experience for my first time out.  Everybody was super nice to me and the campus was gorgeous.  All my flights were on time, my hotel had a free happy hour (I didn’t partake because I had a gig to go to, but still that’s pretty cool!), and I felt great about starting our fall tour off right!

It isn’t too late to book a fall Fight Back Productions program on your campus or for your corporation.  Check out www.fightbackproductions.com for info and let us teach your staff or students how to kick some tail!

Self Defense for Everyone

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of giving my very first ever Girls Fight Back presentation at the Industries for the Blind here in my hometown.  I worried so much before I got there.  I worried about offending the girls I would be speaking to, I worried about not being able to present the information in a way that would be effective for them,  I just worried… A LOT!

I presented to a small group of girls with varying degrees of vision capabilities who were a part of the IFB’s Summer Camp Experience.  When I arrived, they were chowing down on pizza and laughing about their morning adventure visiting a local farm.  I got set-up and started talking to the girls about the program.

Within 10 minutes of starting the presentation, I stopped worrying.  I stopped because these girls had already interjected a dozen or more personal stories and asked what felt like a hundred questions.  I realized that the desire to learn and the yearning to tell our own stories transcends our differences.

The gig was a huge hit with the girls and their teacher even asked if I would be willing to come back and teach the staff at IFB!

On Saturday, I presented two programs back to back.  One for teens at a local teen club and one for mommies at a local church.  Doing two gigs in a row like that was tough!  But once I got started, I found all this energy rushing into me.  Both were a great success and I couldn’t believe the amazing response I got from all the participants.

You would think that I couldn’t find three groups with greater differences than these.  I mean, high school girls, mommies, and teenagers with varying degrees of blindness, what do they have in common?  But after each presentation, at least one audience member approached me to express their fears.  One young girl at IFB said that she lived in fear of being out after dark.  One teen told me there was a certain street near her house that she didn’t dare walk down alone.  A couple of mommies talked about spending thousands of dollars on high tech alarm systems, but still being overwhelmed by the fear that someone might snatch their children away from them at the mall, grocery store or local park.

As women, we all live with these fears.  Fears that were passed down to us by our mothers and their mothers before them.  This week, in a brilliant article in the Huffington Post, writer Ellen Snortland (author of Beauty Bites Beast) suggests that we put an end to this legacy of fear by creating instead a legacy of safety.  Along with some awesome safety tips and a sweet shout-out to Girls Fight Back, she argues that self-defense training should be a mandatory part of getting a driver’s license.  What do you think?  Check out the article here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-snortland/license-to-live-time-to-m_b_253316.html  and leave us your thoughts in the comments!

Wing Chun

So, I told you all I would keep you posted on the self-defense training I’m trying out these days, and I realized it’s been awhile. After taking a Krav Maga class, I started learning the basics of Wing Chun, a form of Kung Fu. Wing Chun was one of Bruce Lee’s favorite types of martial arts, and it just so happens that this style of combat was created by a woman who needed to defend herself against an abusive man. It is designed to be used against larger opponents and focuses alot on stability and relaxation. I have practiced yoga for several years and am 5’2″, so these things really appealed to me. In addition, I happen to have a friend who has been willing to teach this to me at his house once a week, in exchange for Graphic Design work. This option fits my budget and busy schedule very well, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I’ve had three or four sessions so far, and wanted to share some of my findings with you. One thing I like about Wing Chun (and the environment in which I am learning it) is that it’s very simple. The main focus is on maintaining balance, a strong foundation, and protecting the center-line of the body. If all of these things are in place and working together, it becomes much easier to remain calm in a bad situation, and if you are stable and aware, it becomes much easier to throw your opponent off balance. Though Wing Chun is considered to be a high martial art, it doesn’t focus on yelling, making funny noises, or breaking through bricks with your bare hands, none of which seem very practical to me. At this point, I have only learned the very basics, such as how to move my body in unison, with the power coming from the hips, how to throw a punch without hurting myself, and do this with maximum force, and some basic elbow strikes, blocks, and kicks. I must say, I am really enjoying these lessons and find this to be one of the more practical forms of martial arts as well as a relaxing and centering past-time. Plus, it looks really cool once you get these moves down and can do them really fast. Your friends will be totally impressed.

Another important lesson that I have learned is to keep my shoulders relaxed and learn how to use the elbows, hips, and knees to generate power. Being relaxed not only allows us to remain focused and not freak out, but also allows us to read our opponent. For example, say some scary bad guy grabs my arm. If I tense my arm, that arm is no longer serving me as a weapon and I am forgetting about all the other tools I have at hand. Also, he can feel that tension and respond by using MORE force. If I let that arm relax, then I can focus on the other parts of my body that ARE available to me. Also, if my attacker is tense, and I am relaxed, I am able to recognize the instant that he releases tension and respond by kicking his ass before he knows what hit him. This stuff is so simple and makes so much sense, some days it’s hard to believe I’m just learning it now. But, that’s kinda how it goes with self-defense, you don’t know how easy it is to be your own best protector until you find a good sparring buddy.

On that note, I want to talk a little about how this experience is affecting me. I don’t consider myself to be a very aggressive person and don’t particularly like the idea of physical confrontation, so when my friend told me a during our lesson a few weeks ago to punch him in the solerplexes, I had a rough time with that. I understand that it is necessary to put this stuff into practice and use proper form and know where to hit, but I think, like many women, the idea of fighting is just not natural to me and I don’t want to use violence. On the flip side, as a member of Girls Fight Back, I am constantly exposed to stories of violence and tragedy, so I know just how possible it is that I may be faced with a situation in which fighting could save my life. Maybe all the Kung Fu training in the world won’t protect me from all the scary bad guys out there, but maybe, just maybe, the skills I am learning now will allow me to take care of myself if the opportunity arises. I think it is better to have these tools in my toolbox in case I ever need them, than to be “stuck up shits creek without a paddle” as they say.