Building personal and collective strength, safety, and well-being through martial arts, self-defense, and healing arts, to empower women and others affected by gender-based discrimination.
The National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) is dedicated to promoting the involvement and empowerment of all women and girls—cis and trans—as well as gender nonbinary and nonconforming people, who are active in martial arts, self-defense, and healing arts.
All women, nonbinary, and nonconforming individuals are welcome regardless of age, race, color, religion, class, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or physical condition.
We cherish martial arts as a path of self-discovery and transformation and as a means of transforming ourselves and the world in which we live. We find strength in one another’s challenges and promote an awareness and appreciation of our differences.
Our organization offers many benefits to members, including our signature summer conference as well as our comprehensive empowerment self-defense certification and training for self-defense instructors.
Honoring Our History
The community that would eventually give rise to the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation began gathering in 1976. They were women martial artists from all over the country, eager for community, skills-sharing, and personal growth. Most of these women found themselves alone in their home schools and dojos and were often denied equal treatment, the freedom to train and compete without harassment, and their rightfully earned rank. But as part of the NWMAF, they realized they were not alone–and that they were capable, skilled, and destined to lead.
Our Founding Board Members
Honors those whose contribution is foundational to the spirit and vision of the NWMAF, and who have given that contribution over a significant period of time.
- Contribution to the spirit and vision of NWMAF over an extended period of time
Coleen Gragen Award of Inspiration
For NWMAF members who have inspired others in the martial arts. This award was created in 2001 and formally named in 2002 to honor Professor Coleen Gragen.
- Minimum of 5 years of training
- Currently training and/or teaching
- NWMAF member for at least 5 years
- Current NWMAF member
Award of Excellence
For those possessing technical expertise, a remarkable teaching career, inspirational leadership, and meaningful contributions to the community.
- At least 30 years of martial arts experience
- Actively teaching and training
- Contribution to the culture of the integrity of women in the martial arts
- Demonstration of excellence in martial arts leadership
Member of the Year
- Must be a current NWMAF member.
The NWMAF logo was designed in 1988 by Kathy Hopwood. The design encompasses life cycles, movement, creativity, revolution, and the universe in harmony. The logo represents NWMAF as a movement of women who engage in the martial arts movement as a means of empowering ourselves and effecting change in the world.
The circle represents the female principle and ultimate oneness. When objects are enclosed in a circle, they symbolize the inner unity and harmony of all matter. Two circles represent the connection of heaven and earth or of love and knowledge.
The element of water represents regeneration or spiritual rebirth and is the symbol from which all life proceeds. It is one of the five elements of life. The wave lines in the water illustrate the constant movement of water.
Symbolic of females, the moon is connected with water. The moon shows the phases of life: periodic creation and recreation, waxing and waning. The full moon is said to ease childbirth. The moon is a circle that represents the female principle.
The Tomoe is a Japanese motif symbolizing the revolution of the universe. The Tomoe illustrates the constant movement of the universe in harmony.