LA Women Inspired by third Guardian Girls Karate Seminar

Organized by the Koyamada International Foundation USA (KIF USA) and USA National Karate-do Federation (USA-NKF) on Saturday, April 15, and Sunday, April 16, 2023, at the Terasaki Budokan in Downtown LA, the two-day seminars aimed at bringing together diverse communities of girls and women from Greater Los Angeles to empower them to defend from gender-based violence through Karate training.

The seminars were taught by World Karate Federation (WKF) Instructors Elisa Au, three-time World Champion, and Sakura Kokumai, U.S. Karate Olympian and Pan American Champion. This successful event was attended by the Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Kenko Sone, Koyamada International Foundation (KIF Global) Chairman and Hollywood celebrity Shin Koyamada, KIF Global President Nia Lyte, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist Ryo Kiyuna, WKF Executive Committee member Davide Benetello, and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Chief Strategic Partnership Mariarosa Cutillo via video message.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said:

“I am proud to see Guardian Girls Karate here in Los Angeles continuing to build women’s resilience and strength to protect themselves against Gender-Based Violence. We have seen the application of it with so many women who end up homeless as a result of domestic violence. We want to provide the tools for women to be empowered to have both the strength of mind and body to protect themselves from being exposed to violence.”

UNFPA Chief Strategic Partnership Mariarosa Cutillo said:

“The partnership between UNFPA, the World Karate Federation and the Koyamada International Foundation is crucial in our efforts to fight gender-based violence. Through Karate, the Guardian Girls program helps girls and women become stronger and feel empowered to protect themselves in the face of violence. The alliance also shows us how partnerships between the United Nations and multiple sectors, such as sports, are important to send a strong message against GBV, driving awareness and enabling real change within communities."

KIF Co-founder and actor Shin Koyamada said:

“This programme is specifically designed for girls and women and women’s empowerment. We believe that it’s important for girls and women to learn not only about self-defense but also about their rights and an issue of gender-based violence, which is happening here in Los Angeles.”

KIF President and co-founder Nia Lyte added:

“We are trying to prevent gender-based violence and the statistics are shocking. Guardian Girls strives to empower women because we have the confidence and the ability to defend ourselves.”

Head Instructor and USA-NKF President Elisa Au said:

“It was an honour to once again present a self-defence seminar for women through the Guardian Girls initiative in LA. USA Karate is extremely proud to partner with KIF USA for this Guardian Girls LA program and we are excited to expand the training for women across the LA metro area, giving them valuable tools and knowledge for self-defence. Karate’s popularity spans all age groups and genders, which makes Guardian Girls a unique part of the USA Karate program. What better place than LA to launch Guardian Girls USA, as we continue to push for our sport to be included in the LA28 program while enhancing the lives of so many women in Los Angeles.”

WKF President Antonio Espinós said:

“I want to thank KIF USA and USA Karate Federation for organizing this activity in Los Angeles and for demonstrating the efficiency of Karate to fight gender-based violence. We hope that women in the Los Angeles area feel even more empowered after participating in the seminar and that they get to learn how Karate can help make a difference in their lives. We believe that the Guardian Girls Global Karate Project can contribute to the improvement of the situation of women around the world. Karate’s legacy and popularity, and the impact of our Gender-Based prevention programme in Los Angeles would multiply its reach even more should Karate be added to the sports programme of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028.”

“IF I AM EVER CONFRONTED IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION, I WILL HAVE THE STRENGTH TO BE ABLE TO DEFEND MYSELF”, the participants at the seminar highlighted Karate’s many values against Gender-Based Violence.

It was quite an interesting experience; it felt very natural, it felt very intuitive, and the moves were easy for anybody to understand, and you can do it at any level. I think that if I am ever confronted with a dangerous situation, I will have the strength to be able to defend myself by knowing that my power is within my body, and that is extremely empowering. Everyone should have the opportunity to take the seminar,” said participant Lindsay Nesmith.

The Guardian Girls Karate and this type of Karate training are very good for girls and women. By going through the training, I have a greater sense of control over what I should be doing. I actually feel more confident. Many women and girls going through this would gain the same sense of confidence. Not just learning about it, but actually hands-on doing it; that makes a big difference,” said Participant Renee Fraser.       

Lastly, participant Paulina Salmon added: “The seminar was amazing because they brought Karate’s personalities, Olympians, and a wonderful instructor who gave very clear examples. The exercises may seem simple, but they really empower you. Now I feel that I can do more things, things that I now have in the back of my head. I think it is extremely important to participate in activities like this”.          

The seminar was organized in Los Angeles following the pilot event of the project which was also held in Los Angeles in October 2022 on the occasion of the signing of the MoU by KIF, UNFPA, and WKF to effectively launch the initiative.

Created by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the Koyamada International Foundation (KIF), and the World Karate Federation (WKF), the Guardian Girls Global Karate Project is a far-reaching initiative aiming to promote gender equality and empower women and girls through Karate.