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Rachel Piazza is a passionate advocate for women. A true polymath, Rachel’s expertise span mind and body.

A lifelong athlete, Rachel discovered the power of sports and physical activity at a young age. As a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist, with over a decade of experience, she helps women ignite and celebrate their power through martial arts.

Having earned a Master of Science degree in Women’s & Gender Studies, focusing on women’s leadership, Rachel’s work to empower women continues to be grounded in the latest academic research in the field.

Combining her strengths as an athlete and scholar, Rachel developed Feminist Self-Defense, an empowerment-based self-defense curriculum. Her fun yet effective approach has been lauded by leaders in the anti-violence field.

Rachel is a highly sought after speaker and thought leader. In addition to her TEDx talk on sexist language, Rachel presents regularly at local and national conferences, as well as organizations and campuses across the country. Her thought leadership on empowering women through martial arts has been featured in numerous publications, including espnW.

Rachel’s multi-pronged approach to female empowerment has inspired thousands of women across the nation to embrace their own leadership and strengths.


Self-Defense Philosophy

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. 


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
  • Warm-up
  • 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
    • Chokeholds
    • Joint locks


Stay tuned for upcoming public events.

Send an email to to request a workshop.

Sponsorship Program

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!


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