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Wed. July 26 – Sat. July 29, 2023

North Central College, Naperville, IL

We need you!

Suggest a Conference Theme

Send us your ideas

  • Previous themes include: RISE, We Persist, Be Brave, Stronger Together
  • If your idea is selected, you will receive a conference tee!
  • Form will be open until Dec 11, 2022

Interested in being an instructor at the 2023 Conference?

Don’t be shy – APPLY

Reach out to your favorite teachers, and bring your dream class to the conference. Let’s get started!

We are a safe, inclusive, women-led organization for women, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming individuals that affirms each person’s warrior spirit and actively works for a world in which each of us is empowered, free from oppression, and whole.

We come

  • to grow, share our passion, and develop our skills.
  • to train with new partners and old friends, who match us in skill, size, strength, or temperament.
  • to learn from high-level instructors in a women-led, noncompetitive environment.
  • to participate in a community created for women (cis and trans) and gender nonbinary/nonconforming practitioners that has been sustaining us for over 50 years.


There’s something for all skill levels and all exertion levels, whether your focus is martial arts, self-defense, healing arts, or all of the above! The NWMAF conference is the longest-running woman-led training opportunity not limited to one martial art or to only self-defense. 

Come to practice what you know, and feel free to try anything that catches your interest! Our trainers are passionate about sharing what they have learned and we honor and value the growth mindset.

two girls lying with heads together


We offer a multigenerational training experience. Attendees ages 12-18 are welcome regardless of gender. All minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when not in a class.

Many martial arts, self-defense, and healing arts classes are open to all ages, while others are specifically designed for ages 12-18. 

One of our most exciting conference traditions is that young students work together to design a demonstration for the performance on Saturday night.

attendees smiling together

Super Saturday

What makes conference Saturday “Super” special?

As the final day of the event, we pull out all the stops and open the doors to the public! And as a grand finale, the day and the event close with our annual Demonstration Performance, where members showcase their talents. 

Check out some all-star classes, visit our bazaar and business expo (tabling opportunities available for members too!), participate in the scholarship fund raffle to win fantastic prize baskets, and be dazzled at the Demo. Super, indeed!

Most classes on Saturday are open to include men, so you can invite brothers, husbands, sons (12+), and ally classmates and instructors from your home schools to join in the festivities. (As with the rest of the conference, minors must be attended by a guardian when not in a class.)

Self-Defense Instructors’ Conference and the Empowerment Model Course

Each year, the day preceding the NWMAF Conference is our Self-Defense Instructors’ Conference, dedicated to the teaching of Empowerment Self-Defense, a unique, evidence-based, trauma-informed approach to personal safety and violence prevention.

During the NWMAF Conference, we also offer our Empowerment Model Course. Take all or part of this comprehensive series of skill-building self-defense classes, taught by NWMAF-certified self-defense instructors. Learn how to escape grabs, recognize the warning signs of violence, defend yourself with simple strikes and kicks that don’t take years of marital training to master, and much more. No experience necessary!


Our Conference Instructors are selected from among the best martial artists, self-defense instructors, and healing arts practitioners around the world. Many have decades of experience, and all are committed to teaching excellence. Check back here and on our social media pages to meet this year’s Instructors.

From the 2016, Naperville, Illinois, gathering of the three women’s martial arts organizations, AWMAI, PAWMA & NWMAF: Sensei Delina Fuchs & Sensei Nerissa Freeman demonstrate select Danzan Ryu Jujitsu techniques — performed first slowly, then quickly.

Enjoy with the volume up!

Not a member yet?

Join NWMAF to become part of a community that celebrates the strength in each of us and spreads empowerment wherever we go. You’ll save a few dollars on the Annual Conference, too!