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M.A.D: Empowerment-Based Self-Defense


By Jade Arroyo


“You don’t want to be that rebel woman, until you realize that you’re very much are that rebel woman, and can’t imagine being anyone else.” —Roxane Gay


It is a depressing but true fact that a lot of women feel afraid when walking the streets alone at night – all you have to do is ask around to realize just how many of us are fed up with walking home clutching our keys between our fingers or looking over our shoulder.

The frustrating and sad truth is that the majority of women can put up little fight against the majority of men purely because of our biological makeup, and that’s a scary thought. Progress certainly needs to be made to reduce attacks—be they sexual assault or robbery—but as that doesn’t look likely anytime soon, learning self-defense is a wise move for women of all ages.

M.A.D stands for Martial Arts Defense, a new mixed-martial art discipline taught by a smart Mexican woman who besides being my personal teacher and trainer is also one of my best friends.

Gemma Lugo, 32, is a Tae-Kwan Do double black belt. She believes all women should know more self-defense because it brings not only safety but confidence.

“In my opinion, women don’t have the confidence they should in life, let alone in defense,” she says. “Learning to fend off an attacker can not only help women to have peace of mind when walking alone, but also increase confidence, independence and a general sense of achievement.”

M.A.D is also a safe space for women of all body types and ages, with an environment based on respect, friendship, and understanding. Here you’ll learn how to react and escape from dangerous situations while strengthening and reconnecting to your body.

Avoidance is the first step in the timeline: avoid, prevent, de-escalate, defend, fight (if necessary), then run. Classes are every day, a group for active women and another one for people over 50. Feel free to drop by and try a sample class.

“I started with this idea of teaching personal defense for women because all of my girlfriends and acquaintances (including me) regardless of age have suffered harassment and assault at some point in our lives. I thought it would be good to devise a class for women of any age, adapting to their needs and using strategies I consider to be more effective when one has much less strength and size than an opponent. I hope you never have to use anything learned here, but it is better that you own this knowledge. We all deserve to feel safe. “

About Gemma

Started Tae Kwon Do at 10 years old at Ji Do Kwan Lerdo with Professor Edgar Galván (Fifth Dan Black Belt). She has competed since age 14 and received her first black belt at 19. She has since practiced Kung Fu, Krav Maga and boxing.

“I like martial arts, but I have always had a preference for Tae Kwon Do for its philosophy,” she says.

Currently Lugo has a second dan and is certified to teach.



Academia de Artes Marciales y Acondicionamiento Físico

Cricri 28, Col Guadalupe

(Dentro de Pedro’s Gym, Planta Alta)

415 167 1298



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