From The Creators of HVMAC’s Womens Empowerment Program

From The Creators of HVMAC’s Womens Empowerment Program

Meet the creators of HVMAC’s Womens Empowerment Program; Shihan Dr. Romany McGuffog, fourth degree black belt and psychologist, and Sensei Kelie Fisher, third degree black belt, also black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and HVMAC Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Head Coach, and Rock and Water Advanced Trainer and accredited in Rock and Water focus on girls and women. I asked these two incredible people for their thoughts surrounding the evolution of HVMAC’s annual free womens self defence clinic that has become the womens empowerment clinic. It has been an annual tradition of Shihan Sandy’s to teach a free womens self defence clinic every May as a gift to the mothers of the community as a means to make the community a safer place for women, as has always been Sensei Sandy’s philosophy; rehiterated by her creation of Hunter Fight Fit and extended towards the safety of children with her Kindymites and Minimites programs. Sensei Romany and Sensei Kelie generously opened up and shared their passion and personal journey with the conception of the Womens Empowerment program. Thank you both, I am very grateful for your generosity, from Sensei Anna.

Shihan Dr. Romany McGuffog:

“Throughout our training and teaching experience of martial arts, Sensei Kelie and I would often have discussions about gender and martial arts from our own experiences, and what we saw with students. For myself, I come from the background of psychology – with my undergraduate degree in psychology, my PhD in social psychology, and my continuing work as a researcher exploring the impact of different social contexts on mental health. In particular, something we really noticed was that women were often socialised from their teen years into their adult years to not give themselves permission to utilise their body to its full potential. Often it feels like society’s expectations of women are to use their bodies to look after those around them (i.e., often being caregivers). Whilst being a caregiver is an incredible quality for any person to have if they want, this expectation often results in women lacking confidence in themselves in terms of who they are and what they are capable of. Sensei Kelie and I developed this program to be different from other self-defence programs out there for women – which mainly focus on building women’s confidence through teaching self-defence techniques alone. We wanted to combine elements of the Rock and Water program, which focuses on character development of children and developing their ability to be in their body and connecting with their body, as well as self-defence exercises. This would allow women to first develop a deeper understanding of themselves in terms of who they are and how they interact with the people around them and then identify parts of themselves that they might want to grow or change. We then incorporated self-defence exercises to teach self-defence, but to more importantly allow women to see how powerful their bodies are, whatever size, shape, or age. The importance was placed on individual experiences – it was about each person in the program going on their own journey. It was not about turning every person into the same type of person – it was about figuring out the strengths and passions of each person and supporting that. We felt this was the key to empowering women. For some people, it helped them see the strength they had in their body. In others, it was learning that they struggled with assertiveness and making their own feelings and dreams heard and supported by those around them. Over the years, this program has grown and changed based on the experiences we had with people who did our program, and our own experiences and growth as individuals. A big part of this journey for me included my growth and understanding of my own gender. I identify as nonbinary, and the experience of developing this Empowerment Program with Sensei Kelie and the knowledge and experience we gained teaching it over the years helped me be reflective of myself and how I fit in the world. As a nonbinary person, I see this program as something important to women, but also important for other gender diverse people who often have to learn to reconnect with themselves (both physically and mentally) throughout their gender journey.”

Sensei Kelie Fisher:

“For me, I had my own personal experiences seeing toxic relationships destroy confidence because the women on those relationships lost touch with themselves. 

I also had my own experience with an emotional abusive relationship that I lost myself. 

Through my martial arts journey and Rock and Water training I learnt to reconnect with myself through physical games and activities along with self reflection. 

I have seen this many times with students of all genders do the same. This drove me to have discussions with Sensei Romany about developing a program that  doesn’t just address self defence techniques but fun activities that show the power that is in all of us. That realising your voice is powerful and is a form of self defence. 

My hope is that participants and students alike are inspired to be the best version of themselves by realising their potential and believing that they deserve to take their space in the world, all while  still connecting to others through healthy relationships.”

To find out more about the free Womens Empowerment Clinics being held this May, and to register, click here