“By teaching women self-defense women start feeling more secure, confident and healthy.” Words said by Lina Khalifeh founder and owner of SheFighter (established since 2012); the 1st Self-Defense studio for women in the Middle East designed to empower women both physically and physiologically through Self-Defense training, Lina’s passion to empower women helped her win first place in the UN’s Women Business Global Awards.
Although Lina earned her degree in French Literature in 2007 from the University of Jordan, she went on to get certified as a personal trainer in martial arts, she is extremely skilled, knowledgeable and a diligent professional who has trained successfully around 10,000 women. She uses her talent of public speaking to raise awareness on violence against women and the need for women to defend themselves.
AWM had the pleasure to talk to Lina and find out how her work makes a difference,
Tell us growing up did you always have a passion for martial arts and self-defense?
Yes, my parents first enrolled me in a Taekwondo School when I was 5 years old, and I had the passion for Martial Arts ever since and till now.
I have trained in different kinds of Arts Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Boxing, Kickboxing and Self-Defense.
I never thought of starting a Self-Defense studio for women, but when I was growing up I always had the confidence and courage to continue in my life strong and I thought all girls have the same skill.
It turned out they don’t have it because they were not raised in a Martial Arts atmosphere.
My friend at University got attacked badly from her father and brother and seeing her beaten up wanted me to teach her and other females how to be strong and how to defend themselves from violence.
Then I started to do it for FREE just to empower women and teach them how to defend themselves from violence, and I started from the basement of my house.
What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
The whole Globe; SheFighter has to be in each country in the whole world. I know it sounds like an impossible vision but as far as I know “Nothing is Impossible” determination and belief is way stronger than anything in the whole world.
SheFighter has to empower millions of women and that will happen through training of trainers and Public speaking in different Global conferences.
Do you think it is possible to integrate self-defense education in schools as part of a curriculum for girls?
Yes, SheFighter has to be as an important curriculum in schools everywhere starting in the Middle East.
We actually got our first acceptance from the Ministry of Education in Jordan to start integrating SheFighter in Public schools.
Is there a plan to expand and open branches of SheFighter in the Middle East?
Yes, definitely. Dubai is on the plan to start the franchise there. We are still negotiating the options.
A girl was trained at SheFighter for 3 Months got attacked by stranger in the elevator in her own building.
“I was walking towards the elevator. As I stepped inside; I felt myself being pushed against the wall, a guy was trying to choke me and then he tried to rape me. I felt really scared and started sweating, but I used my Self-Defense training and started pushing him away from me. Suddenly he was afraid, and he ran.
I was so angry I chased him through the streets. I asked some guys for help and they managed to catch him.
Then the police came. I pressed charges against him in court and managed to send him to Jail for 3 years for sexual assault.”
Do you see that women and girls in the Arab world accept the idea of learning self-defense?
Yes, it will take them lots of awareness sessions, but they will accept it because it’s the best skill to learn in order to build confidence and defensive skills. They don’t have to be strong from the beginning. We teach all kind of women and girls ‘different age groups and different body weights.
What are some of the obstacles you face in your line of work?
The society, it’s not only about empowering women, but the fact that they don’t like to see a successful woman in the business field. The Arab world is a very male dominated region. We need to change this. Women can do many things and can shine in their work.
What advise do you give young girls and women who face abuse?
I would say to them, don’t quit if you face a problem in your life. Stand up! Because you will face obstacles anyway. It’s just how you decide to deal with these obstacles.
“When life throws a punch in your face and drop you on the ground, get up and say: You punch like a baby”
Be Strong and enjoy life!
For more information on SheFighter check out their website: http://www.shefighter.com/
SheFighter & Lina Khalifeh is highlighted by President Obama at the White House
For interview in Arabic