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Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists

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

PAWMA Camp 2018 Firsts

Introduction by Nina Thompson
Newsletter editor

Last year’s camp was full of firsts. First time campers, first time teachers, and the first time I pulled off a flying spinning kick. Thanks to a hard working board and beautiful weather we had a great camp. The following firsts were recruits made by PAWMA members reaching out and convincing a friend to join. Here are their reflections on their firsts.

Photo by Mena Kehoe.

Mollii Khangsengsing, on her back in a white gi, teaching BJJ in the yurt at PAWMA Camp 2018. Photo by Mena Kehoe.

First Time Teacher

By Mollii Khangsengsing

I had the honor and pleasure to teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ)  at  the PAWMA “Hear Me Roar” camp. The experience was extraordinary and unexpected — especially the way I was welcomed by both the board members and the camp participants. I got to share my passion to a groups of enthusiastic and engaging women and girls. In addition to teaching, I got a chance to learn Judo and Qigong and made new friendships between people with different martial art backgrounds, people who I might have never met outside of my own BJJ community. The experience helped me realize that I am part of something much bigger than myself. For that, I am grateful.


Amalia Sanchez, center, in Master Uyen Pham's class, Defending Against Weapons. Photo by Mena Kehoe.

A First PAWMA Experience

By Amalia Sanchez 
15 years old, black belt at Oakland Kajukenbo

It was an amazing experience, the entire time I felt so powerful standing next to these women that were masters in their arts; I could feel their power seeping into me. Even through the ache of sore muscles I wanted to practice, because it was so amazing to learn new styles. Even as I left that camp, I felt this new type of motivation inside of me, and I knew more than ever that women are strong and worthy of the same titles as any man.


Leslie Maksun, center, with Nina Thompson, left, and Marie Jackson, right. Photo by Leslie Maksun.

First Time PAWMA Camper

By Leslie Maksun
Black belt at Corvallis Karate School

I attended the PAWMA camp for the first time last year in Pescadero, CA. I was very impressed with this camp. First of all, the location was beautiful and very relaxing, at a YMCA camp nestled in the redwood forest. When I arrived, everyone was very welcoming. I especially appreciated my dietary needs being accounted for (vegan). The variety of classes was very impressive considering also that the instructors are volunteering their time! I attended mostly the grappling classes, taught by nationally renowned judo and juijitsu instructors. Needless to say I got a very satisfying amount of exercise, not only from classes, but also I went swimming and hiking. I would definitely recommend this camp to any woman who has trained a good amount of martial arts and is interested in learning about other martial arts styles.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Titus.

A First Camp Experience (of Any Sort)

By Tess Klemke

PAWMA was not only my first martial arts camp, it was my first experience with a summer camp in general. I was fortunate to attend this camp as a white belt and through this adventure I found a new outlook on my training. I realized that there were depths of stamina and reserves I hadn’t guessed at within myself. As an introverted person, I can admit I was anxious about attending camp and feeling overwhelmed, but it was quite the opposite. There was plenty of time for me to attend to my own needs whilst cultivating camaraderie with my classmates and new found camp friends. The depth of knowledge and experience contained within this camp was mind blowing! I attended a variety of classes, from Qigong styles to a workshop on arm balancing (and much in between) and after every class I was inspired and exhilarated. For anyone out there who might be on the fence about attending, give it a go! PAWMA might (and hopefully will) push you to your edge but in a safe and positive way where it will open pathways to self-empowerment and trust in your fellow martial arts classmates and teachers.

Illaria, center, in white pants. Photo courtesy of Nina Thompson.

A First PAWMA, A New Style

By Illaria 
17 years old, second degree black belt at True Martial Arts Overlake

So, this last year was my first year coming to PAWMA, and … I’m not sure what I had expected. My mom and a couple other women from our school had gone in 2017, and when they came back they had so many new things to share with the other instructors and students. I loved looking through my mom’s notes and looking at the various activities she had written about and wanted to try them all in my classes! But at the same time, I didn’t know how they were supposed to work exactly, since it’s a little hard to explain a game of movements in a few simple sentences. I was so excited when my mom invited me to come to the 2018 camp, and at the same time, I was kind of nervous. What if there were no other younger ladies and girls there? What if was all big women and I was looked down on for being so young, and so inexperienced in relation to so many other people who had been training for most of their lives? At one point I had also had the idea that maybe we wouldn’t even be doing that many activities, but instead it would be more of a round-table conference, with intermittent breaks for actual practice.

By the time we got there though … I was so happy I didn’t let these random ideas intimidate me. There were so many people there, some of them my age, some much older, and some were even younger than me. It was so much more like a day of regular school than I thought it would be, having a class or two in the morning, a break for lunch, and a class or two in the evening. And I got to learn so much from those classes. I loved being able to see all the different styles being taught, the different realities that each lady brought with them from their homes. It felt amazing to be able to train with so many of these wonderful women.

At my school, one of the requirements for Black Belt, is to make a creative form, and to improve and reshape it at each rank. I’m now a second-degree black belt in our style, but my creative form hadn’t really changed all that much to show it. Recently though, after looking back on what I learned at PAWMA, I decided to try and take my original form, but to add in those new styles and new realities I had learned with everyone. I’ve now been able to add a much wider spread of techniques into my form and been able to convey the story I put to movement so much better. So, I decided that my form needed a new name to go with the newer, better story. I’m proud to present my new story, Honui Segye PAWMA Pangbop, “Chaotic World, PAWMA Style”. I hope to be able to show it to everyone next year at the 2019 PAWMA Camp as well.

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