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Why all girls (and women) should know how to fight back

Silver Pinyon Journal talks to Girls Fight Back! founder and CEO Erin Weed

By Jessica L Szabo

Silver Pinyon Journal

30 April 2009

WINNEMUCCA — Anyone who starts any new venture with the intent to serve others has some sort of personal reason for taking on the work involved. Maybe they are angered and saddened by an official policy or a lapse in judgment by elected officials, or they are seeking a solution to a problem they have observed plaguing their community or nation, or perhaps they were simply moved by the work of someone else. For Girls Fight Back! Founder Erin Weed, the work of educating and empowering women about self defense began with a personal tragedy. On June 12, 2001 Erin Weed’s close friend and Alpha Phi sorority sister, Shannon McNamara, was brutally murdered by a stranger who broke into her apartment. Upon investigating the horrible scene, police discovered that Shannon had valiantly battled the vicious coward who so coldly took her promising young life. As she grieved her sorority sister and friend, Weed became inspired by Shannon’s courage and gripped with the idea that young women like Shannon needed to possess concrete skills that would help them to fight off an attacker. She began to study various forms of self defense, eventually becoming a certified self-defense instructor. Weed’s own women’s self-defense program, Girls Fight Back! Began in 2002.

Any self-defense program that encourages behaviors and teaches skills that help ensure anyone’s safety is a good program, but Weed’s program has some features that make it particularly unique and effective.

“Our seminars are only 90 minutes, and we encourage women to take more training after seeing it,” she explained. “When possible, we bring local instructors to say hello after the seminars so women can meet their local options for self-defense training. We are also different because we use lots of humor and empowerment in the program. We believe when people are laughing, they are learning.”

When learning truly occurs, students take their skills and knowledge with them and adapt the information to any relevant situation. True learning also changes the learner, and the skills taught in Weed’s seminars are no different.

“Many women have taken their first self-defense class, broke up with a bad boyfriend, realized a past violent incident was NOT their fault and some have even used our techniques and escaped safely,” Weed said. She further described the positive impact this new strength can have on a woman’s friends, family members, and others in her community. “The more strong women in a community, the better. We have left behind empowered women, who in turn empower others,” she stated.

Anyone who would like to purchase a DVD or other materials, or would like to learn more about Erin Weed or Girls Fight Back! is invited to visit the group online at:

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