Introducing the Special Training 2011 Trainers

Check back regularly as we introduce each of the trainers individually!


Yudit Sidikman Sensei

Yudit was born in the United States and immigrated to Israel in 1984. At the age of 28 and pregnant with her fifth child she received her yellow belt in Judo and has never looked back. Upon receiving her blue belt in 1995 she began teaching Judo in her home town of Efrat. It was a process of “learn a skill on Sunday, teach the skill on Monday.” Today Yudit, a third degree black belt, teaches wherever she is asked to with pleasure.

In December 2003 Yudit helped establish El HaLev (To the Heart), which today has over 30 active instructors teaching all over Israel. El HaLev provides many different forms of Martial arts and self -defense under one roof and reaches out to over 5000 people yearly. In her spare time :-) she is doing her MBA. A retired IMPACT mugger (5 years was just enough), Yudit's newly found love is teaching brick-breaking to anyone willing to try, and in particular female soldiers. "There is just nothing like seeing the face of a young women breaking through that block of 'I can't do this.'"





Heather Turnbull Sensei

 Heather Turnbull began her formal martial arts training in 1996 and currently holds a fourth degree in Kempo Karate. In 2002, she began studying Arnis and Escrima under Guro Laura Holmes of Combat Science/ Warrior Arts of Asia. As part of the Canadian Team, Heather has competed at three WEKAF World Championships in Full Contact Stick Fighting and Forms, most recently in Mexico where she earned a silver and two gold medals. Heather has trained with several internationally recognized Filipino Grandmasters and in 2008 in Manila was awarded her Dayang Isa from GM Pepito Robas.


Heather co-founded Goddess Martial Arts with Karen Gray, an organization promoting wellness, professional effectiveness and safety to women in the workplace. Heather Sensei instructs and trains throughout the Black Belt Institute network and values her membership with both AWMAI and NWMAF.


Currently, she is international President of the Association of Career Professionals (ACP) International, as well as Chair of the Board of FAME (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere).


Ms. Sheila Smith

Sheila Smith began her martial arts training eight years ago at the age of 36 after being convinced by her children's Taekwon- d o instructor to give it a try. She resisted at first, convinced that she wasn't athletically capable of such a thing, but s he ev entually succumbed to the instructor's insistence and has had her life transformed (and possibly saved) through her journey in the martial arts. She is a 1st dan black belt in Chang-Hon (ITF) Taekwon-do and trains and instructs at Sandalwood Martial Arts in Victoria, British Columbia. She has developed a special passion for instructing self- defense and enjoys teaching tuls (forms) with analytical detail. She also loves to break things with her bare hands and feet. She is a certified personal trainer and brings many aspects of her career to her martial arts training.

Majikan Nancy Rothenberg

I am celebrating 25 years of training in the martial arts this year - what a rich and fulfilling path it has been! I would like to thank all of my students past and present for being the best teachers I have ever had!

I began my training at age 22, fresh out of college and eager to be the best I could be in a martial art that was so beautiful and so challenging, Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, from Indonesia. I became my teacher's first black belt in 1989 and parted ways from that system in 1993.

Since then I have been the owner and head instructor of Spirit of the Heart Martial Arts and Wellness Center in Northampton, Massachusetts. Please come visit if you are in our area. We are expanding to offer kung-fu, yoga, massage, belly dancing and drumming classes! I am most inspired right now by my awesome kids program, by my personal practice of Wild Goose Qigong and Kundalini Yoga, as well as studying with Richard Bartlett, founder of Matrix Energetics. Life is full. I look forward to sharing myself and my art with all of you.

Master Kris Dibelka

I started Tatsu Do Karate at the age of 26 in 1982. I was enthralled with the movements and ability to discipline my body to perform all methods of Aiki Jitsu, Ju Jutsu, karate, and weapons waza and katas. I received my Shodan in 1986, with my last rank of Yodan in December of 1999. In between I have had two daughters and gone to school to become an orthopedic massage therapist.

The kinesiology of martial arts and the healing arts are interwoven and a constant fascination for me. I will be testing for my Godan at the end of January 2011 as I have been studying to make up for time used in starting a business and learning my trade. I have consistently taught women’s self-defense classes for the past 25 years. I schedule 4 week blocks that cover the legality of levels of force, the psychological process through which we travel to make decisions to defend ourselves or others, and how we can avoid and be safe in confrontations.

I find pleasure in sharing my skills and watching the enjoyment and thought processes that students have while learning new techniques. As I am getting older, I am finding new ways in which to practice and pass on my knowledge while keeping the traditions I hold dear in place.

Wendi Dragonfire

Wendi Dragonfire is 60 years old and has been training since 1971. A 9th degree Black Belt in Shuri-Ryu Karate and a 2nd degree Black Belt in Modern Arnis, Dragonfire is a direct student of the late Robert A. Trias and the late Professor Remy A. Presas. Her goal has always been, and continues to be, making the martial arts and self-defense accessible to everyone, especially to those who have been marginalized. To that end, Dragonfire, an organizer of local, national and international events, provides accessibility to all practitioners regardless of abilities. Combining the energy work of martial arts with that of Healing Touch has helped Dragonfire to be a better, more compassionate, and more proficient teacher and practitioner.

Dragonfire, a founder of NWMAF, has received many awards and been inducted into several Halls of Fame; however, her proudest award moment was when she became an NWMAF “Award of Excellence” recipient at Special Training 2001. Her proudest moments consist of seeing the women around her ‘becoming’…

Dragonfire spent 4.5 weeks teaching in Israel in February and March of 2011. Students included staff members at El Halev, Tai Chi students in Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba, 8 groups of seniors, GLBT youth who had been kicked out of their families, illegal Filipino immigrants, ex-prostitutes and oh so many more.

Dragonfire loves to teach and invites you all to join her… 

Molly Hale

We are honored to welcome Molly Hale to SDIC-ST 2011 as both and SDIC presenter and ST trainer.  Molly began her training in 1984 at Aikido West in Redwood City, California, as a student of Frank Doran Shihan. Her passion for movement and background in dance, yoga, t’ai chi, and Continuum supported her Aikido training. She became the senior instructor of the Aikido West Children's program in 1988 and instructor of Oracle Aikido Club in 1991. In 1995 an automobile rollover damaged her cervical spine and spinal cord; the prognosis was severe: she was expected to have no voluntary movement below her shoulders. Never-the-less, she returned to the mat in March 1996 and in June 2001 she successfully tested for her Sandan in her wheelchair and on the mat.  

Molly continues training and teaching and has exhibited and taught at a number of national martial arts events, including AikiExpo, PAWMA, and NWMAF Special Training Camps. In 2008, Lee and Jake Sincl air filmed Molly teaching self-defense for use by the I’m Worth Defending program in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2009, Molly was a guest speaker and presenter at the American Hippotherapy Conference in Atlanta. On July 23, 2010, Molly was honored with the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary achievements, perseverance, and dedication to the special-needs community. 

“Moment by Moment: The Healing Journey of Molly Hale” won a Film-Makers Choice (Best Art) award (view at This year she is team-teaching in a warm-water pool environment, coaching movement, relaxation, balance, breathing, stretching, and practicing AikiAqua.  Visit Molly’s website.

Sonya Richardson

Sonya Richardson has been training in the martial arts since 1990. She received her 3rd degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo, the Gaylord Method, under Professor Coleen Gragen and was promoted to 5th degree Black Belt by her current teacher, Professor Barbara Bones. Sonya is Executive Director and Head Instructor of Kajukenbo Programs at Hand to Hand Kajukenbo Self Defense Center in Oakland, California. She also holds a Sandan in Kenpo Karate under Professor Gloria Boldizar. Sonya is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, having practiced for over 20 years.  Sonya's teaching experiences include multiple offerings for AWMAI, NWMAF, and PAWMA national camps, as well as out of state and local seminars for community martial arts schools and the Kajukenbo Association of America. She is particularly honored to have served as one of two instructors for SDIC's pilot Community Self-Defense Class last year. Sonya is delighted to attend and teach again at SDIC. She salutes and is grateful for the consistent leadership efforts of camp organizers.

Erin Weed

Erin Weed's sorority sister was murdered at Eastern Illinois University in 2001. Just 23 years old at the time, this tragedy lead her to abandon a career in TV broadcasting and study all aspects of women's safety and self-defense. After training with some of the best violence prevention experts in the world, Erin created Girls Fight Back, a campaign to empower young women through safety and self-defense education. She and her international team of speakers have reached close to a million women since 2001, and Erin authored a book titled Girls Fight Back! The College Girl's Guide to Protecting Herself. Erin has been featured in media including: CNN, The CBS Early Show, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, The Washington Post and Marie Claire. She was given the Hometown Hero award by John Walsh (Founder of America's Most Wanted) and named Best Female Performer 2009 by Campus Activities Magazine. Erin works as a consultant to companies and non-profits wanting to make a social impact, and is currently writing her second book about social entrepreneurship.



Jamie Leno Zimron Sensei

Jamie Leno Zimron is a 5th Degree Aikido Black Belt, Class A LPGA Golf Pro, Licensed Psychotherapist and Sports Psychologist, Master Bodyworker and International Citizen Diplomat. Her aikido-based “Peaceful Power” teachings help transform lives in dojos and businesses, on the golf course, in the Middle East, and on all the playing fields of life.

Jamie Sensei has taught aikido and Mind-Body healing work in the ex-Soviet Union, Israel, Palestine and throughout the US and Canada. She established the Aikido Arts Center of San Francisco; ran university aikido programs; was a staff consultant for The Institute for Personal Change; is a longtime PAWMA and NWMAF Trainer; and is a co-founder of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors and the Middle East Aikido Project. She is a Board Member of Aiki Extensions and on the Advisory Board of the Compassionate Listening Project, and works closely with Peace Dojos International, Budo For Peace and the PeaceCamp Initiative.

Known as The Golf Sensei, Jamie is the creator of KiAi Golf and The KiAi Way Inc. Arabs and Jews are now "meeting on the mat;" businesspeople are shifting to a new paradigm of peaceful empowerment, leadership and workplace wellness; and golfers are learning to stop "killing the ball" and instead use internal energy-power to improve their swing and scores. An all-round exceptional athlete, instructor and healer, Jamie Sensei shares a vast synthesis of knowledge and experience in her talks and trainings. She is acclaimed worldwide for her dynamic teaching style and unique ability to guide people to newfound well-being, success and peacefully empowered living.

Sensei/Sifu Barbara Feldman

Sensei/Sifu Barbara Feldman, Head Instructor at Blue Heron Martial and Healing Arts, in Charles Town, West Virginia is a professional educator with over 30 years’ experience teaching adults and children, Barbara has practiced the martial arts for over 25 years and the healing arts for over 20. She holds black belts in two styles of karate, including a 4th degree black belt in Ai Mute Shotokan under Sensei Jaye Spiro of Detroit. She is a member and former secretary of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF).

Barbara studies T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung primarily with Master Wei Lun Huang of Miami. She has also studied T’ai Chi and various forms of Chi Kung with several other teachers. She has certifications in Five Element Medical QiGong, Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua, Sword, Fast Form, and Push Hands. Barbara is a member of the American Tai Chi Association.

Barbara has taught martial arts to many groups. She was an instructor at NWMAF Special Training and a self-defense instructor at Shepherd College. She has taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Kung to several health and educational groups including cancer patients at the Center for Integrative Health Care in Frederick, MD.

Shihan Lisa Davis

Shihan Lisa is a first time instructor at Special Training, where she will be teaching applied self-defense classes.

Davis lock

Lisa Davis began her jujutsu training at the Harlem branch of San Yama Bushi Ryu Jujutsu, now known as the Harlem School of Jujutsu and Self Defense, in 1990. She immediately noticed that the school had two women black belts and two women student and immediately knew that this was the school and instructor for her!

In 1995 Lisa earned her 1st degree Black belt in the system and also holds rank in judo. Lisa is currently an instructor at Harlem Jujutsu and the Hombu Dojo in New Rochelle, NY. When not practicing and teaching martial arts Lisa works as a claim examiner in NYC.

Ms. Marla BB

Ms. Marla BB, NWMAF Member of the Year in 2003,
joins us this year to provide some high intensity, high sweat workouts!

BB kick

Marla BB is a mama to 6 year old Ruby, a Martial Artist since 1987, a 3rd Degree Black BB mushingBelt in Tae Kwon Do, a 1st Degree Black Belt in Poekolan (Indonesian) Kung Fu, a nationally known touring Blues Singer since 1983, and a Sled Dog Musher since 2008!

Marla received the NWMAF Member of the Year Award in 2003. Over the years Marla has been a steadfast NWMAF volunteer, Co-Chairing the 30th Anniversary Special Training in 2006 and founding a Teen Committee. Marla has also directed, performed, and MCed numerous NWMAF demos.

Marla loves teaching self-defense and breaking boards which she does at Marla BB's Tae Kwon Do Studio. She looks forward to working and playing with the women and girls of ST 2011!

Ms. Cathy Chapaty

Ms. Chapaty returns this year with a reprise of her popular board breaking class and fundraiser!

Chapaty breakingCathy Chapaty is respected for being a powerful, positive, and inspiring teacher who has a knack for helping students of all abilities learn martial arts. An 18-year martial arts veteran, Cathy has spent the majority of her career studying Taekwondo and an eclectic style called Jukido.

Cathy is owner and chief instructor of Tao of Texas Martial Arts Institute in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in character-based youth martial arts instruction, and has helped ADD/ADHD sufferers improve focus, emotionally fragile students build self-confidence, and rowdy and rude kids become respectful, responsible young adults.


Ms. Jen Para

Ms. Para joins us as an instructor for the first time this year!

Para knife


Jen Para is a first-degree black belt in Silat Seni Gayong, a Malaysian form of Silat, and is an instructor under Cikgu Sheikh Shamsuddin in Illinois.

Jen is the highest ranked woman in Silat Seni Gayong outside of Malaysia. She has traveled to Malaysia for cultural understanding and for additional training in empty hand and weapons by high ranking Gayong masters.

Jen has written articles for and been featured by "Seni Beladiri Magazine," a martial arts publication in Malaysia, in addition to consulting for television shows on Silat.

Sensei Jaye Spiro and Instructor Lisa Santi

Sensei Spiro and Instructor Santi are coordinating this year's YMA program.

Spiro and Santi

Thirty-five years ago Sensei Jaye Spiro attended the very first Special Training in Minnesota. What a thrill for her to see this bold tradition carried on by generations of powerful women. A sixth degree black belt in Ai Mute Shoto-kan Karate and fifth degree in Modern Arnis, she founded Mejishi Martial Arts in Detroit, Michigan in 1979. This year she is teams up with Tang Soo Do Instructor Lisa Santi and the teens and girls of Turn of the Tide and Mejishi to bring a comprehensive youth program to SDIC-ST 2011. She looks forward to the most fun Special Training ever!!!

Instructor Lisa Santi has been training in the Martial Arts for 27 years and currently holds the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do and 1st Degree Black Belt in American Style Nunchaku. Lisa has built a strong Martial Arts Club from the ground up in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, and in 2010 she celebrated 20 years of teaching and running Turn of the Tide Martial Arts, where she puts the children, their safety, and their spirit first.

Sensei Joanne Factor

Factor with BoSensei Joanne Factor came to ST as trainer for the first time in 2005, and spent the next 4 years on the NWMAF Board as Director-at-Large for Self Defense! This year she returns as both ST trainer and SDIC presenter.

Joanne is a mild-mannered university budget wrangler by day, and dedicated to helping women and girls discover their strongest selves by evening and weekend. JoSensei Factor anne has been training at Seattle’s Feminist Karate Union for over 18 years, and owner of Strategic Living Safety and Self-Defense since 2003. A nidan in both traditional Shito-ryu Kotaka-ha Karate and Kobudo, Joanne teaches adult women’s and kids’ karate classes, and  has expanded FKU’s children’s program to local elementary schools. As owner and principal trainer of Strategic Living, Joanne teaches self-defense skills to ages 5 to 75, students and sorority sisters, homeless women and business ex e cutives, and everyone in between.

Joanne has taught at PAWMA Camp and Special Training 2005, and has served on the Boards both organizations. She is an NWMAF-Certified Self-Defense Instructor, and a member of AWMAI and AAU.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Joanne holds a BA from Cornell University, surrounds herself with many furry feline friends, and was named Seattle's Best Feminist Butt-Kicker in 2007 by the Seattle Weekly.

Grandmaster Dr. Germon “MAMA G” Miller, PhD

Mama G

NWMAF is happy to announce that Grandmaster Dr. Germon “Mama G” Miller will be joining us as an instructor at SDIC-ST 2011! After her first Special Training appearance in 2008 many women asked us to have her back and we’re pleased to be able to do so this year.

Hailing from a mixed lineage of West Indian and Hebrew cultures, Grandmaster Miller is a first generation Vita Saana Askari Mwalimu (Warrior Enforcer). She ranks 3rd in the hierarchy of this 40 year old organization and was the first woman to complete the 4 day Vita Saana Rites of Combat.

Acknowledged as a “torch bearer” in the international education of the Afrikan Martial Sciences, Dr. Miller has blazed a path as an authority in the Afrikan Combat Systems, not only through academic research but also as an International Grand Champion. Her successes include capturing over 2000 trophies, 2 World Titles, and 4 World Gold medals in fighting, forms, self-defense and weapons. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, she won 10 Black Belt Grand Championships in weapons and firearm disarmament self-defense against men half her age!

In 1980 she established the AKERU Discipline Sciences Program to assist juveniles whose lifestyles were beyond the scope of a standard classroom, and her “sidewalk university” concept was designed to reach teens in poverty environments. The AKERU program is represented in 5 states and overseas, having been presented at hundreds of schools, churches, and community centers to over 35,000 men, women, and children.

Dr. Miller has served as a world renowned Crisis Educator and Urban Safety Instructor for 25 years, specializing in Juvenile Crew Arbitration and Truancy/Recidivism Elimination. Known as Mama G (Mama Gangsta) in her edutainment motivational presentations, her beliefs are based on the Afrikan tradition of “gyneme” (Fear nothing except the Creator), and her motto is from comedienne Moms Mabley, “If you always do what you always done, you always get what you always got!”

Through the mercy of the Creator and the blessings of the Ancestors, she single-parented 2 sons and 4 foster daughters into adulthood, and accomplished this while surviving attempted murder and homelessness. She turned these catastrophes into triumphs to claim her self-preservation.


Shihan Dara Masi

Shihan Masi Double ThrowIntroducing Shihan Dara Masi It is our pleasure to start Special Training 2011 trainer introductions with Shihan Dara Masi, co-owner and co-head instructor of Suigetsu dojo, and Director of the Hakkoryu Martial Arts Federation. Shihan Masi will be teaching an advanced class in the pressure points of Hakkoryu Jujutsu, open to black belt and advanced students of any style.

Hakkoryu Jujutsu Training Dara Masi began her study of the martial arts in 1986 and is a direct student of Dennis Palumbo, Menkyo Kaiden Shihan San Dai Kichu in Hakkoryu Jujutsu. She received the rank of Menkyo Kaiden Shihan San Dai Kichu in Hakkoryu Jujutsu (equivalent to 8th degree black belt) in 2008 from Dai Sensei Palumbo, and shortly after that he passed to her the mantle of responsibility of the Hakkoryu Martial Arts Federation naming her as Director.

Iaido Training Dara Masi Shihan Masi is also student and instructor of Iaido. She is ranked at Nidan in both Aiki Toho Iaido founded by Shoji Nishio, Shihan and Soshoryu Heihodo Iaido, founded by Masakazu Tazaki.  She currently trains in Aiki Toho Iaido as a student of Joji Yoshida, Shihan and Michele Benzamin-Miki, Sensei. Shihan Masi is one of very few martial arts instructors training and ranking children in the art of Iaido.

Membership and Leadership Shihan Masi is a life member and instructor in Jujitsu America, and Suigetsu Dojo hosted the Jujitsu America 2002 Convention. She has taught Jujutsu seminars throughout the United States for schools and large organizations. She is also a lifetime member of the NWMAF, and served on the Board for four years as its Treasurer. Shihan Masi co-founded the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors in 1998 and served six years as President.

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