and Support


Volume I

Winter 2022

In This Issue:

from Executive Director

Shifu/Sensei Koré Grate

May 2022 be a Happy New Year!       

Even though we were so looking forward to an IN PERSON conference, decision-time came, and the way the variant virus was exploding, we knew it was the right thing to have this years conference ONLINE once again. 

On a positive note, it makes coming to the conference an easy commute (you don’t have to buy an airline ticket or drive) and extremely affordable (you don’t have to pay to stay in a hotel, you are home), and hopefully the food is excellent (my wife is a great cook!).

Seeing familiar and new faces in the little boxes of the ZOOM screen is better than not seeing each other at all!

At the very least, it's guaranteed to lift us up a bit, just knowing we are all persisting! The online  format is not only safer, it is ideal for lecture/discussions, and we are becoming more adept at holding virtual  workouts and moving classes.  I  know that my little office has the six foot social distance diameter down pat, as long as I don’t kick or swing my arms too far.

If you haven’t already, sign up right now for AWMAI's Teaching the Teacher 2022 Conference! Attend any of the expert array of classes, the awards slideshow, our important membership meeting, and the fun social time.  I hope to see you all there!

Click here to get registered!

from Financial Director

Sensei Katie Murphy Stevens

'Affordable' Isn't the Only Reason

I continue to be inspired by the phenomenal martial artists of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors.

The AWMAI Conference is refreshing vacation, a place to recharge, a time to reaffirm my commitment to teaching martial arts.
It is wonderful to be surrounded by a group of martial artists who are skilled, engaged, determined and enthusiastic. We have many common goals and we reach out to help each other toward those goals. That's what's so great about our organization.

Again this year, the AWMAI Conference is being delivered in the online format. True, it's not the same as a vacation away from home, but we'll still be able to spend time with our colleagues, learning, sharing and socializing. Another Zoom conference means another opportunity to present an elite group of instructors directly to you in your home or workout space.

We have made it eminently affordable, both in cost and time. You choose the price. You can carve out a couple of hours for a key class, immerse yourself during the whole weekend, or somewhere in between.

But 'affordable' isn't the only reason to come. It's the connecting, sharing, helping each other and recharging our love of martial arts that make it worthwhile.

Register now to join us February 25 - 27. See you there!

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from the Editor

Master Didi Goodman

Our Special Mid-Winter Gathering

As is customary this time of year, our Winter Issue of AWMAI News is dedicated to getting you registered for a very special and important annual conference: Teaching the Teacher 2022 - A Virtual Event, coming up on February 25-27.

Let's be honest: We're all a little done with Zoom, especially those of us in physical arts who just want to meet and move together! And thank goodness, for the most part, we've all gotten back to training in our schools and holding local events.

At the same time, our Zoom skills have only improved. Over the past two years, we've gotten better and better at presenting effective and engaging classes on Zoom. We know we can put on a high-quality event. And we've mastered Zoom socializing as well! Our Events Director, Sijeh Sarah Sponzo, will be programming some activities, and we'll have casual meetups in the virtual lobby or by virtual poolside, too - as we did last year.

We've distilled it down to the essence. We're offering only eight classes, and they're on vital topics of interest to our members. We think you'll want to attend every one of them. Of course, you're free to pick and choose, and with our generous sliding scale fee, you don't need to worry about the cost of registration.

We're excited to offer a class that's especially for young assistant instructors - members of our schools who might not be able to travel to the conference in an ordinary year. Be sure to invite your younger and teen instructors to attend this year on Zoom!

It's all coming up really soon - so don't delay: Mark your calendar and register. We all need to see our old friends, make some new ones, and talk with folks who understand the important work we're doing as instructors. Let's enjoy some personal and professional respite together!

So, read on to learn about our instructors and class offerings, but above all, get registered!

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Register Now for

Teaching the Teacher '22

February 25-27

Online Worldwide

from Events Director Sijeh Sarah Sponzo

Virtual Conference, Take Two

We hoped to meet in person. We hoped for the best circum-stances and all luck in the world. But here we are one year later, one year wiser, on the verge of our second virtual event.

It’s a little disappointing that we won’t be gathering live, but it’s still very exciting to be getting ready for the Conference! We know, after our very successful event last year, that this will be a great weekend. We will reconnect with colleagues, friends, mentors and sisters. We will laugh, we will learn and share and be grateful that there is a way that we can meet safely.

The Board has put together a great roster of teachers (read below!), a variety of classes (including some very new and timely topics), fun social time and of course, networking with the finest group of women martial arts instructors anywhere! I hope that you all register, set the weekend aside for yourself and join us to reconnect. We know from our 2021 experience that even virtually, our organization is energetic, welcoming and flexible. We had wonderful interactions with each other in the classroom and in a social setting. We expect nothing but the same for this year.

We know that the world is waiting for us to return to each other live, and you can be sure that we have all our fingers crossed for an in-person Conference in 2023!

While there is no fear of missing your flight this February, you should still get yourself registered, map out your schedule for the weekend of the 25th, and make sure you have your Zoom links lined up. 

We are really looking forward to your participation later this month. Till then, stay healthy, and we'll see you in the virtual lobby!

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Teaching the Teacher 2022: Instructors and Classes

AWMAI is proud to announce our very highly qualified teaching staff, and the timely and useful topics that will be presented at Teaching the Teacher 2021. Read below, and register now to ensure you don't miss any of this event!

Jarrett Arthur is one of the highest ranking female Krav Maga Black Belt Instructors in the country. Specializing in empowerment-based self-defense training for women and kids, Jarrett has been featured as a safety expert on dozens of national media platforms, including: Good Morning America, Ellen, Shape, Fitness, Glamour, RealSimple, TeenVogue, PopSugar, Forbes, and the New York Times. She is currently a second year graduate student at Fordham University, pursuing a Master of Social Work degree. At this year's conference, she'll be addressing a topic vital for anyone teaching reality-based self defense:

  • Where Reality-Based and Trauma-Informed Teaching Methods Meet

This lecture will cover the fundamental principles essential to reality-based self-defense, common violations of trauma-informed teaching methods in reality based self-defense classes, and how to effectively fuse these two modalities in order to maximize student learning and safety.

    Master Lissette Delgado-Fitzgerald is a 5th Dan in traditional Tae Kwon Do, Sandan in Aikido, a member of the Jeet Kune Do Athletics Association Instructor Team under Sifu Harinder Singh Sabharwal, and PFS Edged Weapons Law Enforcement Instructor and Apprentice Instructor under Sigung Paul Vunak. She is a Rock Steady Boxing Certified Coach. She also holds an Athlete Muscle Resilience and Conditioning Instructor certification, which has put her in the position to train numerous Pro and Olympic Athletes, helping them to prepare to set World Records, compete internationally, prevent injuries, and recover from them. She is co-creator, Chief Training Officer, and Chief Instructor of the ASSERT Empowerment and Self-Defense program, is working towards her CNVC Non-Violent Communications Certification, and has been studying her blend of Martial Arts for over 17 years. Before opening her dojo, KSA Martial Academy in Nashville, TN in 2013, Liz was an award-winning marketing editor and writer. She now devotes her time to teaching Empowerment Self Defense and martial arts to her students, at-risk groups, and special needs groups, including gender-inclusive groups, special operations teams, and security professionals.

        • Recognizing Technique Concepts Across Arts and Daily Movement

          Whether you dedicate your training to one art or cross train a variety, the ability to identify movement concepts in techniques can facilitate your training, deepen your understanding, develop new and innovative uses, and help you convey your knowledge and experience to your students. In this class, we explore a series of movements and techniques, how they translate from art to art, and how we can reinterpret the movement into new techniques and uses in our daily lives.

            Sijeh Anne Dysinger has been studying Kung Fu since 2000. She currently trains in Choy Lay Fut under Sifu Daniel Ostrow. Sijeh Dysinger has competed in international tournaments since her training began, and has earned three Grand Championships at the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship tournaments, organized by Master Nick Scrima.

            As Program Manager at the Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy, Sijeh Dysinger assists in the day to day management of the martial arts business. She has taught thousands of classes helping both children and adults see and grow into their potential. She has organized small and large events including tournaments and social events and assists regularly with the instructor training program. Sijeh Dysinger served as the Events Director for AWMAI from 2012-2017.

            • Young and In Charge

            Younger instructors are often unsure of what they are supposed to do, and more importantly, how to help the students they are teaching. The goal of this seminar is to help our younger assistants learn to be more confident instructors of our arts, help them use their voice, and empower them to become better leaders. Using various teaching methods and some real-life examples, we’ll explore common misconceptions and how to overcome our own doubts. This seminar will also be ideal for anyone who is brand new to being an assistant or class leader. Bring a notebook and pen or device to take notes, an open mind, and any questions you might have.

            Sensei Dr. Amelia Jones is a scholar warrior healer. She actively practices Chinese medicine, Tomiki aikido, painting and calligraphy. She has studied martial arts since 1983, starting out as a student of Shorin Ryu Karate under Sensei Kathy Hopwood. She holds the rank of Sandan in Tomiki Aikido, and is the senior student of Sensei Katsuo Watanabe, in Westchester County, New York. Sensei Jones teaches self-defense for schools and community groups. A graduate of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, she is certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and operates Acupuncture Unlimited, a Health & Wellness Spa. 

            • Get to the Point! Accupressure and Self-Massage

            In this class we will examine some practices from ancient healing systems and translate them into tools for everyday use. Participants will learn to use acupressure and self-massage to promote wellbeing. Questions regarding specific issues will be addressed.

            Write something for us!

            Suggestion of the month:

            Read anything good lately? A training manual, biography, or martial-arts-related novel? Write us a review!

            Post-Conference Inspiration: Write about something memorable you heard, learned, or shared during the upcoming conference.

            Send submissions to

            Professor Hillary Kaplowitz holds a Ph.D. in education, specializing in instructional design and technology. She is Senior Instructional Designer for Faculty Development at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She is also Sensei of Pacific JuJitsu Kai, and has been teaching martial arts for the City of Santa Monica since 2000. Professor Kaplowitz began her training in 1977 in the youth program at the Santa Monica YMCA under Sensei Jim Nieto, where she also competed on the Judo team. She subsequently trained under many highly-ranked instructors, earning the title of Kyoshi in 2008, receiving a Shihan Kaidensho in 2013, and being awarded her Professorship from the American Judo & Jujitsu Federation (AJJF) in 2017. She is an instructor in the Danzan Ryu Seifukujitsu Institute massage program and has served various volunteer leadership positions in the AJJF. One of her interests is in the iron fan techniques of Danzan Ryu, and she has published a book on the subject, Tessenjutsu.

            • Designing Drills to Develop Skills

            In addition to practicing the specific techniques in our martial arts systems, we can use drills to help increase skill development. In this class, we will look at how isolating and practicing specific movements can be beneficial, different types and goals of drills, and ways to develop drills from movements in our own systems. Options for both solo and partner practice will be covered. There will be opportunities to share drills with each other and begin to develop new drills.

            Dara Masi, Shihan started training in the martial arts in 1986. She is Doshu (system head) of Hakko Densho Ryu Martial Arts Federation. She lives in Northern California, where she is the Head Instructor of Suigetsu Dojo, built on 70 acres in a pine forest. Masi Shihan is a co-founder of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors and a member of the AWMAI Hall of Fame, recognizing 30+ years of training. She is the United States Delegate for FESECAM European Federation of Martial Artists. Masi Shihan was inducted into the Jujitsu America Black belt Hall of Fame in 2004 and in 2016 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists. She continues to teach and host seminars in Northern California, as well as presenting seminars around the country in Hakko Densho Ryu Jujutsu, Nishioryu Toho Iaido and Hojojutsu. 

            • Navigating the Plateau

            On the long road of our martial arts journey, we all experience highs and lows. There will be moments, often during promotions, when we feel like we are growing. At other times, there are challenges during which we may feel frustrated. I have found the most interesting time on my path to be when I am on the plateau. A plateau is defined as “a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.” I have found myself frustrated on the plateau and feeling stale and often see this in my students. However, over time, I have come to realize that the plateau is where the real training actually takes place and can be a place of peace, learning, and internal growth. We will discuss our experiences on the plateau, how deep growth can actually be realized while there, and how we can inspire our students during their struggle.

            Jennie Trower is a skilled instructor, presenter and speaker with more than two decades of experience in martial arts, self-defense, and safety training and teaching. After personal and professional losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennie pivoted within the safety space, earning a third college degree in Emergency Management, as well as multiple Disaster Management certificates through FEMA; and volunteering for ongoing disaster relief efforts with the American Red Cross. She brings the same balanced, accessible, effective and actionable approach to emergency planning, preparedness and response as she did previously to the field of self-defense. 

            • Basic Emergency Preparedness: Affordable, Accessible and Actionable Strategies

            From wildfires, hurricanes and floods to a global pandemic, mass casualty events and cyber-attacks, there’s no shortage of examples of disasters to learn from. This course will take an all-hazards approach to disaster/emergency planning, presenting accessible, affordable and actionable tools and strategies to help people, families and entire communities become better prepared and more resilient. We will investigate and discuss the following:

            • How are self-defense/martial arts and emergency preparedness similar?

            • What groups of people suffer the greatest effects from disasters, statistically and historically?

            • What hazards/threats should we prepare for?

            • Why is it important to prepare – on an individual, community or even national/global level?

            • How do we prepare to stay? How do we prepare to evacuate?

            • How do we plan for our pets? Folks with special needs?

            Plus, we’ll do a self-inventory of things we already know/do to stay safe and better prepared, as well as learn about tons of free online resources to make a plan, build a kit, and increase our collective resiliency. This course will be taught from a perspective that seeks to mitigate the fear so many people experience around these issues, and transform it into action and confidence.

            Shihan Diane Wallander’s love for martial arts covers the training, the discipline, the striving towards perfection, and the life enriching connections with fellow martial artists. Diane has practiced and taught martial arts with one goal in mind; to train and prepare as many students as possible in an effort to combat the stain of sexual assault in our world. She holds a degree in Biology and Masters and Doctorate degrees from Northwestern University in Anthropology. Her research in primate behavior focused on understanding the development of behavior, and linking patterns in signals of aggressive, play, parental and feeding behavior. It is the unique combination of her expertise in practical, effective self-defense skills, paired with a deep understanding of behavioral signals, that allow Shihan Diane to teach her students a self-defense program rooted in reality-based scenarios of sexual assault.

            • Teaching Martial Arts to Special Needs Students

            Students with special needs deserve instructors and curricula that recognize, understand and integrate accommodations that are vital to these students' learning and success. Much of the focus in special education has been in the classroom, however--not so much in the area of physical education. This session will focus on best practices for teaching martial arts to neurodivergent students, such as those diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, & ASD.

            Ten Years Ago:

            Conference Highlights from 2012

            In-person, energetic, and the inaugural Hall of Fame class. To learn more about who's who, visit the Conference History page for 2012.


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