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Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists

Uniting and empowering a diverse community
of women and girls in the martial arts.

Silke Schulz: Eulogy for a Fierce Friend

June 15, 1960—May 19, 2017

By Delina Fuchs

In my world, Silke was a respected and accomplished martial artist. She started her martial arts training in the early 90’s and attended her first National Womens Martial Arts Federation event in 2000. We met for the first time in 2010 at The Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists’ annual Camp where we both were hired to teach. She had her 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do (which she received in 2009) and had spent many years training in other martial arts as well: Judo, Jujitsu, Kajukempo, Tai Chi, and Hapkido, to name a few. She even did Yoga, meditation, and weapons training. My first impression of Silke was, “Wow, she is one formidable woman!” And, I wasn’t disappointed. Many of the instructors and martial artists at the 2010 PAWMA Camp participated in their annual camp martial arts demonstration. Silke started off the demonstration with a multi-faceted weapons and striking demonstration, and ended it with a bang—she broke a huge stack of bricks, seemingly without any effort at all.

She seemed so tough, even hard, in her black, canvas gi and her dragon tattoos.

But, I soon found out what a compassionate soul Silke was. Silke had a huge heart, and was both an activist and a tireless advocate for marginalized groups. She was a rape prevention educator and legal advocate and truly a masterful empowerment self-defense instructor, as I soon came to find out. I invited her to my dojo in 2014 to teach a self-defense workshop for women and girls. Several of my jujitsu students encouraged their mothers to come to the class, and I encouraged a couple of my friends to come who had never taken a martial arts class in their life. All these women believed that they couldn’t do the techniques and that they were powerless to do anything should an attack happen. When they were done training with Silke, these women overwhelmingly exclaimed how transformative their experience with her was. They were so surprised at what they could do, and how easy Silke made it. My friend Lyn tells me often what a life-changing moment that was for her. Watching that class gave me a new love and respect for my friend, Silke. She was passionate about empowering those who felt that they had no power at all.

But what touched me the most was taking her to Van Buren Elementary School in Stockton this last February where she taught 6th graders. She was concerned for their well-being through the process of grieving. She wanted to encourage them to stay focused on their education, reminding them that it was for them, not a teacher or teachers, but it was their future that was at stake. The kids ran to her, hugged her. And when it was time to go, they were holding her tight and crying as she said goodbye. She had made a lasting impact. Silke had earned her Masters in Sociology from CSU, Sacramento in 2011 and finally landed that full time teaching job at that elementary school in Stockton. She was teaching kids, empowering the community, and training in martial arts with two brand new knees. When she got ill, she faced the cancer with the same spirit she brought to her training. She was all in. She researched thoroughly and followed through with her spirit, her diet, her motivation, and her actions. She advocated for herself with her physicians, she stepped out of her introverted tendencies and reached out to her friends, and she got busy living—to the very end. 

Silke Schulz, secretary of the 2012 PAWMA board, presents a gift of flowers to Keiko Fukuda Shihan, assisted by Dr. Shelley Fernandez at the opening of PAWMA camp 2012 in Berkeley CA.

But most of all, Silke was my friend. I found her to be deeply introspective. She was not afraid to authentically look at her life. She was constantly analyzing parts of herself with the intention of evolving and growing. She was a learner first and foremost, never in denial of who she was, what sas going. We connected in our “Germanness” in that we both knew what it was like to be interpreted as hard and even terse. But, to her credit, Silke took it upon herself to approach personal growth in the same way she trained in the martial arts. She was brave in her introspection and tenacious in her transformation. My friend was an emotionally intelligent human being, a fierce social justice advocate—in fact, we co-founded “Touchstones of Empowerment” on Facebook from which Silke initiated empowerment self-defense workshops--training youth, women and girls, and the LGBTQ community. I miss her… We were the “Matriarchs of Empowerment!”

She was an incredible human being, a formidable German Woman Warrior, and it has been my privilege to call her friend.

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