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Our Mission

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

Founders Award

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.

Founder Awards recipients


  • 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.

Coleen Gragen Award of Inspiration recipients


  • 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.

Award of Excellence recipients


  • 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.