Rachel Piazza is a women’s rights advocate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt training at Unity Jiu-Jitsu School in New York City. Rachel has a master’s degree in women’s & gender studies and leads feminist self-defense workshops for women and girls. Rachel’s analysis on the empowerment of women through martial arts has been featured in numerous online outlets, including ESPN.com.
As a co-founder of Young Feminists & Allies, the National Organization for Women’s first virtual chapter, Rachel’s work reaches beyond the realm of self-defense. In addition to her TEDx talk on sexist language, her feminist analysis has been sought at national conferences, and in digital media platforms on various topics including race, pop-culture, and politics.
Too often, self-defense courses are taught by big scary men, whose objective is to make you feel vulnerable. The message is, without learning and mastering their techniques, you are just asking to be assaulted.
My approach to “self-defense” is different. As a woman, I know that we don’t need to be reminded of our vulnerability. It’s something we sense everyday. Instead, my goal is to get participants to feel comfortable using their bodies in a powerful and assertive way. Feeling powerful can have a tangible impact on a person’s life – and ultimately their ability to defend themselves in a dangerous or threatening situation.
Participants enjoy a safe and fun environment, where they will never be made to feel responsible for an assault. The blame and shame always belongs to the perpetrator. Instead, participants learn effective moves that can become tools for living an empowered life.
Rachel runs donation-based workshops throughout New York City, making her classes accessible to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. All donations over $10 are used to cover the costs of those with financial need. For a list of events, visit my Eventbrite profile!
A typical Self-Defense workshop with Rachel is 2 hours and includes a full-range of self-defense tactics based in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a ground fighting system that uses leverage to subdue assailants with chokes and joint locks. Workshop participants will gain basic skills in evading and escaping physical control, as well as neutralizing an attacker. While techniques take time to master, the focus will be on concepts that can be applied right away. The goal is to teach tangible strategies and promote the mindset that women can use their bodies in a powerful and effective way.
Each workshop includes...
- Introduction to feminist self-defense approach
- Boundary setting skills
- Phsycial technique demonstrations
- Application and drilling of techniques with instructor oversight
- Basic techniques include
- How to fall properly
- Controlling distance
- Escaping vulnerable positions
- Being offensive from the ground
- Joint locks
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