Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre (HVMAC) has invited girls and women to kick their goals during a free empowerment program hosted in May. 

Dr Romany McGuffog and Sensei Kelie Fisher worked together in 2019 to develop the empowerment program. Photo source: Kelie Fisher

As the centre’s Mother’s Day gift for the Hunter community, females aged six and over can become the best version of themselves throughout the four-week program, which includes Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu exercises.

“The empowerment program is designed to help women and girls realise their potential both physically and mentally,” Sensei Kelie Fisher said, who leads the initiative. 

“Women’s self-defence is more than just physical, it’s about the way you carry yourself and being able to use your voice.” 

The Women’s Empowerment Program incorporates a combination of physical ground and stand-up work and mental exercises that help develop participants’ intuition and inner strength. 

“We want to teach the mental and emotional side of self-defence, so I’ve boiled it down to four lesson themes; finding your strength, finding your power and your voice, building trust and intuition, setting and maintaining boundaries,” Fisher said.

“The main focus for this program is to actually have women and girls recognise their strength within their bodies.” 

Fisher said she had become particularly passionate about female empowerment after experiencing an emotionally abusive relationship in the past. 

“I lost a lot of strength during that time, and I allowed someone else to take my power, so by being able to stand strong within myself, I can now take that power back from people wanting to stand over me, physically and mentally,” Fisher said.

“That’s why I’m so passionate about empowerment.”

The program caters for females six and older. Photo source: Kelie Fisher

She also voiced concern about the impact of social media on society.  

“There are young men and boys who need to be able to stand strong and be resilient, but particularly for me, it is about women and girls,” Fisher said.

“I think at the moment, social media puts a lot of pressure on people to strive for perfection, and it tends to put people down – they don’t think they can live up to social media standards.

“When they realise how strong they are and that they’re the best version of themselves, that’s very empowering for them.”

Fisher said the response to previous programs had been strong, with approximately 130 people from the centre and wider community joining their classes per week.

“A lot of people think the program teaches you how to fight, but it’s not about learning to fight,” she said.

“It’s about standing strong and connecting to yourself so you can connect to others.

“That way, you’ll be the best version of yourself.”

The Women’s Empowerment Program will be hosted at five HVMACs across the Hunter, including:

  • Greenhills: Wednesday nights at 6.15 pm on May 4, 11, 18 and 25.
  • Waratah: Thursday nights at 6 pm on May 5, 12, 19, and 26.
  • Redhead: Thursday nights at 6.15 pm on May 12, 19 and 26.
  • Warners Bay: Saturday mornings from 8 am on May 7, 14, 21 and 28.
  • Morisset: Saturday mornings from 10 am on May 21 and 28.

Community members interested in participating have been encouraged to phone 4956 8876 or email to book a spot.

For more information, visit

Maia O’Connor

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