and Support


Volume II & III

Spring/Summer 2022

In This Issue:

    • 2023 Conference Info: Save the Date! read more 

      Remembering Professor Jane Carr

      by Sensei Katie Murphy Stevens

      In early March 2022, the martial arts world lost a pioneer and icon, Professor Jane Carr. Professor Carr had a formidable presence, but was also very kind and giving. I’ll always call her Professor Carr – never Jane. That is not because our relationship was strictly formal, but because she earned and deserved the honor.

      Professor Carr was a Judan (10th degree black belt) in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. She had a long career and so many, many accomplishments. I could take  time to try to list them, but instead, I would like to write just a little about my own experience in her black belt classes. Professor Carr was my jujitsu sensei for about 15 years. I attended her monthly black belt classes for around 20 years. That translates to hundreds of black belt class sessions. I learned something new in every single class.

      After the new year in 2002, I attended my first black belt class at Professor Carr's school, Redding Jujitsu Academy in Redding, California. I had been a black belt for several years at that time. Even so, I was very nervous! I had trouble sleeping for a week prior. What would it be like? Who would be there? Would I do okay? Definitely out of my comfort zone. Once there, I had a vast and entirely new set of circumstances to adjust to and assimilate. I kept quiet in class. I did my best. Nothing was easy.

      It is hard to put into words the difference between what I was used to in a black belt class and what I was presented with in the RJA black belt class. There was the obvious skill of the head instructor. Professor Carr knew what she was doing, she had a plan for each class, and a plan for the long term development of the group. I could see, too, the skill of the other participants. I felt like I didn’t have that skill. Over time my nervousness turned into a determined resolve to accept the teaching and learn.

      Professor Carr attracted good, solid martial artists to her school. There was something I could look up to in just about every individual. She led the group with skill and compassion. She kept the talking part of her instruction brief and on-point. She was tough. It was always a hard-working class. She would let you know where you needed to improve, but also suggest how to improve. I was corrected by Professor Carr many times, and she always took the time to explain how to accomplish the correction.

      She was a beacon

      showing us

      the way forward.

      Professor Carr taught not just the physical aspects of Danzan Ryu, but also the internal aspects. For example, confidence is a quality we strive to develop. But how do you develop confidence if you don’t have it!? Do you just pretend, do you wait for it to appear, does it sneak up on you and all of a sudden it is there? We learn that when our skills increase, most of the time our confidence increases also. Sometimes confidence is just the belief that you are on the right track, and the belief that the track will take you somewhere good.

      The RJA black belt class brought together a group of strong martial artists who helped build each other up, who set good examples for each other, who respected their leader, who had confidence they were on the right track. The shared belief helped us all move forward together. That belief was fostered by Professor Carr. She was a beacon that showed us the way forward.

      It is tempting to punk out in life – in jujitsu training, in personal relationships, in goals you have set for yourself both on and off the mat. It is tempting to settle for being less than the best you can be. There were plenty of times when I was flagging, but I went to black belt class and came out bolstered and relieved of the temptation to punk out. Professor Carr's classes were naturally inspiring. It was not obvious how she did that. I have watched her closely and have tried to learn, because I want to inspire others the way Professor Carr inspired me.

      There were many times when I went to that class, worked hard, and reflected later, "That class was designed just for me!" It seemed like the lesson plan, the instruction, the comments I and my workout partners received, were all targeted at me,  so that I could have the best experience in the class. She spent time with me in each class - not just a hurried comment or passing correction, true time and energy. But here is the amazing part: I’m sure every person in every class felt exactly the same way - that the class had been designed just for them. It was not obvious how she did that. I have watched her closely and have tried to learn how, because I want to design classes and interact with students the way Professor Carr did.

      There isn't time or space to write the many stories, the many inspirations, the many epiphanies fostered, the many ways Professor Carr has helped me. These few stories about black belt class are a small sample of the times she and I spent together. Outside of class we talked for hours, we traveled together to martial arts events, we stayed over at each other's homes, we celebrated births and weddings, we mourned the passing of loved ones, we knew each other very well. There aren't enough words to explain how much she meant to me.

      Professor Carr was both a warrior and a healer. She worked tirelessly throughout her martial arts career to share her love and knowledge of the arts. She continued to teach jujitsu classes all of the way up to her sudden illness and passing. If you were fortunate enough to have met Professor Carr, bring your best memories of her to mind and keep them close to your heart.

      Left to right: Nerissa Freeman, Sheryl Hager, Jane Carr, Delina Fuchs, Katie Murphy Stevens

       Back to Top

      The first of many reminders:

      Save the Date for Teaching the Teacher 2023!

      With two virtual conferences under our belts, we are excited to be back to planning a live, in-person event! We are looking forward to Teaching the Teacher 2023! We’ll be announcing our location and venue soon, and our exact dates.

      As always, it will be easy access from the local airport, have great space for our group to spread out, enjoy the facilities and be close to dining, shopping and attractions to complete your weekend.

      Stay tuned for the latest information and we’ll look forward to seeing you all in February 2023!

      from the Editor

      Master Didi Goodman

      Introducing my Replacement

      It's been fun putting together the AWMAI News for the past few years, but it's now time to give this newsletter some new energy and creativity by passing it on to a new editor. I'm delighted to announce my colleague in Cuong Nhu, Parnee Poet, will be taking over. She is an artist, writer, and head of Tara Dojo in Appleton, Wisconsin; and she has been a regular attendee at AWMAI's conferences. Stay tuned for a full introduction to Sensei Parnee, to appear in the next issue!

      Meanwhile, this issue: Sadness, joy, hope for the future. We lost a towering figure in Professor Jane Carr, but her legacy lies in generations of instructors who will continue to share her wisdom with us. We pulled off another conference on Zoom - and while we couldn't all be together in person, we continued to learn from each other, and to network, share, and support one another. And we're already in planning for our next in-person conference - ready to implement your feedback wherever possible; create an irresistible line-up of classes for our membership; and include as many women of all ages as we possibly can (perhaps including an online component, since we've got it down).

      Besides all that, I've included in this issue a photo gallery of (mostly) bird photos by Shihan Melanie Fine. It's a wonderful mental respite to enjoy nature - even if enjoying it digitally!

      It has been an informal tradition lately to include artistic contributions from our members in the newsletter, and I hope Parnee will be able to continue the tradition. Of course, that depends on all of you: We need you to send your work, whether it's poetry, photography, painting, sculpture, or whatever! Send your art (and encourage your artist friends to do so) to

      Parnee will also need your articles on any topic related to teaching martial arts or self defense, running a school, building your school community - really, anything at all of interest to our membership of dedicated martial arts instructors. As our February conference proves every year, you are an incredible group of highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers. And no matter how skilled we are, we learn new things every time we meet. Let us learn from you more than once a year! Send an article for an upcoming newsletter issue.

      Thank you, everyone!

       Back to Top

      from Executive Director

      Shifu/Sensei Koré Grate

      In Memoriam

      I first saw Professor Jane Carr at an AJJF (American Judo & Jujitsu Federation) Seminar in California in the early 1980’s.  She was the only woman at the board of directors’ head table during the banquet.  Her presence was important, and inspiring.  I was lucky that my teacher, Dr. Alexander Feng, and Professor Carr were friends as well as colleagues, and whenever I was with either of them, they would ask me to say "Hi” to each other, forming a bond between us. 

      I deeply admired her high-level skill and persistence in not only the arts she trained and taught, but her leadership abilities. Getting to know her more through AWMAI was a gift.

      Her opening speech for our AWMAI 2019 Conference on Feb 21st was a highlight of all highlights.  The words she shared that day will always ring true and whenever I feel sad about losing such an important hero, I will remember her standing at the podium speaking her wisdom to us.

      Let's all remember her now in some of her own words:

      “Good morning, Women Martial Artists from near and far! What an honor it is to be here with women who are positive in their beliefs and have power in their actions.”

      “Each of you can change and improve the lives of so many people, giving them strong leadership skills and desire to succeed in whatever they chose to excel in. What joy it gives us when a student from the past bows into the dojo to say hello, letting us know how martial arts training helped to shape their successes and the decisions they made.”

      “Methods are many, principles are few.  Methods may change; principles don’t!"

      "By example you instill Caring, Courtesy, Confidence, Consideration, Humbleness, Honesty, Honor, Responsibility, Reliability, Respectability. All the above go a long way towards a successful future.”

      “Martial arts and our teachers have given each of us so much!  We need to give back. You are now the Teachers and Leaders."                         '

      "As we get a little older Aging is not lost on youth. It is yet another stage for growth and development."

      "Now, let’s all have a blast enjoying one another and our martial arts!”

      -Professor Jane Carr

      from Certification Director

      Shihan Melanie Fine

      Highlights from a Successful Conference

      The website has been updated with the 2022 Conference Highlights. Please visit and enjoy, whether to recall memories or to see what you missed.

      Highlights and handouts from the conference classes can be found on the 2022 Conference Forum. Did you attend a class? Have a question for the instructor? Post it there and get a conversation going. Forums may be “old school,” but they are also a great way to do research and find materials and topics that won’t disappear in your Twitter feed or be impossible to find on a Facebook post.

      The AWMAI Forum also has several general areas of interest: a Member’s Lounge where you can post just about anything, a New Member Introduction for you new folks to get started on networking, Seminar and Tournament Announcements, and  COVID-19 (yes, we are perhaps burnt out on this one, but unfortunately it’s still relevant today).

      Then there is the Marketplace Area to investigate. Do you own your own business? Let our members know about it and we’ll support you! Have something to trade or sell? Post it in the “Flea Market.”

      Our Forum is accessible by members only, so you can feel safe posting about topics that you may not wish the general public to see. It also helps cut down on spam posts. Is it worth taking the time to log into your account? I think so!

      Thinking about the 2023 Conference? We are planning on being there live and in-person next February. It is never too late to consider whether you are due for your Hall of Fame recognition. Get your paperwork started! Are you moving from 30 years to 40, or 40 to 50? Even simpler!

      For those of you considering Rank Recognition or Rank Promotion, this is also a good time to get moving on the paperwork and the process.

      Spring forward and don’t look back!

       Back to Top

      from Events Director

      Sijeh Sarah Sponzo

      Looking Back, Looking Forward

      Another virtual event in the books.

      I think it’s safe to say that we are really comfortable with the Zoom platform and can really make it work to our advantage.
      We enjoyed another weekend that seemed to be over way too fast. Happily, the same connections were happening – meeting old friends, seeing new faces, learning something new, having a good laugh. There was a great variety of sessions and the social events were well-attended. Even through Zoom, the spirit of AWMAI was strong.

      While we proved that we can be successful virtually, I am thrilled to be finalizing plans to return to a live event in 2023! There’s nothing like being in the same space together, sharing meals, hugs, networking, pool time, late-night chats and all the rest of the amazing things that make AWMAI a special organization.

      The tourism and hospitality industries are ready to welcome groups back and they are doing a
      great job of keeping things safe for meeting. The Board will be making a decision soon on a
      location that will offer our group all the best options for Teaching the Teacher 2023.

      Dust off those flight credits and frequent flyer miles that you might have and we’ll see you next

      Write something for us!

      Suggestion of the month:

      What brings new students to your dojo? What makes them stay?

      Alternate topics:

      Share your best advice for putting on a successful event or seminar.

      What, if anything, will you miss about Zoom, when you're 100% back in person?


      Send us a poem!

      Send submissions to

      Seen and Heard at Teaching the Teacher 2022

      Here's a sampling of images and quotes* from the Virtual Conference, in-class chats and evaluations. For more conference highlights, including the complete conference booklet, visit the Conference Highlights web page.

      "Really grateful to have access to masters and content over zoom. Similar to in person, I learned most in those moments of breakout rooms/partner work with high level martial artists."

      "This was a really well produced and managed conference. Lots of valuable information. The social parts were really nice - that's hard to do online. It was good to have a chance to chat with folks, not just see them during sessions. I'm glad to learn about the forums, so we can keep the discussions going. Thank you for all the hard work!"

      "An excellent class that gave me lots of new ideas for how to create and structure drills!"

      "This class was so well done, it built on the concepts introduced, gave the perfect amount of time for both instructor sharing and break-out room collaboration. "

      "Loved the interactive aspects.  Helped me to think about teaching in a new way. Great stuff!"

      "I learned so much from all the different classes. I hope teens are allowed to attend if the conference is in person next year because I would love to go again!"

      “Masi Shihan provided a wonderful space for us to reflect on our decades long journey, share our own insights, and/or listen and let the concepts marinate.”

      "The connection I felt just being there was very powerful - feeling that inspiration and re-connection to passion. I definitely would not only love to join the organization but to attend future gatherings if the world permits."

      "What I loved most about conference was how giving everyone is. It felt like a genuine support to want others to succeed as well. And everyone comes from different backgrounds. That in itself is so very special. Thank you so much for this event, I have friends I would love to convince to come as I think they would enjoy it as much as I did."

      This was really helpful for me as a newer instructor who also trains assistant instructors. I'm very glad that my young students were present for this workshop.

      "I would have loved to practice even more techniques, but I understand there were time constraints!"

      "Wonderful concepts and teaching!  I only wished for more time. Trauma-informed teaching is such an important concept, I hope there will be more about this at the next conference."

      *Some quotes have been edited for clarity and context. Quotes are not necessarily directly related to images.

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      Life in the Moment

      photos by Shihan Melanie Fine

      Our esteemed Certification Director is also a talented photographer. Here are some shots from the Mountain Moon Ranch and elsewhere in Northern California.


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