Dont be fooled by the name She Fighter. This all-female mixed martial arts center is not watered-down instruction just for women, but rather an experienced group of trainers with dedicated trainees learning self defense. She Fighter students are learn a variety of mixed martial arts to basic and advanced self-defense techniques. Founder Lina Khalifeh is dedicated to empowering her trainees with confidence in the mastering the art of self-defense. Khalifeh has 16 years of martial arts experience, is a holder of a 3DAN Black belt in Taekwondo and a certified trainer of self-defense. She has traveled to Canada and the United States for her certifications in self defense training. Khalifeh also has represented the Jordan’s national martial arts team in international competitions. She began her martial arts training at the age of five at her uncle’s training center in Amman and has not stopped since. At 28 she is now the owner of a burgeoning woman's mixed martial arts and self- defense training studio in Amman that has claimed the title of first of its kind in Jordan.
It was not easy for a young female with no business history to start She Fighter in a country that rarely affiliates women with typically male-dominated sports such as martial arts, boxing, and competition fighting. But in 2010, she decided to give teaching a try in Amman. “At first it was one on one training with a couple clients, then more women started coming so I moved to my garage and set up mats and a punching bag,”
Khalifeh said, dressed in workout pants and a sweatshirt with the She FIighter logo emblazoned across her chest, sitting behind her desk at the new training location.
She described the most challenging part of the process since the beginning of She Fighter has been convincing women to try out what she is teaching.
As her client base grew, Khalifeh moved She Fighter from her garage to renting gym time by the hour. For six months now Khalifeh has been settled in at her new studio in Amman and her business is in full swing. The studio is professionally laid out with women in mind. The She Fighter color theme is consistent throughout the studio and equipment including the pink training mats and sparring gloves. When a class begins, so does the sound system with a great play list of artists like Rihanna, Florence and the Machine, and other popular artists.”We have all types of women here, women who have never tried any sports in their lives and women that love sports,” Kalifeh said while describing the types of women in She Fighters courses. “My main source of marketing was word of mouth and Facebook,” she said with an astonished grin.
Khalifeh could not believe the positive response women in Amman gave to the idea of She Fighter and the
numbers that have been showing up for training.
This is more then just a business for the Ammani entrepreneur. She is passionate about empowering her students inside and out to rise above and conquer the obstacles of life with confidence. What fuels her are the personal stories of female friends and students who have been abused, sexually harassed, and attacked, and felt helpless in dealing with overcoming these matters in a positive way. Though she feels strongly about empowerment, Khalifeh does not describe herself as an activist, but rather a realist and believes that Jordanian society’s issues need to be talked about and dealt with or they will never change.
Along with physical training, Khalifeh also gives seminars both in her studio and different colleges, schools and orphanages around Amman on self-defense.
She speaks to female students about how being aware of harassment and abusive situations can help them avoid these problems in their future. During the seminars she feels that at times, speaking on these issues is hard and awkward in a society that denies the existence of the problems, but also important. For every person that denies what she is talking about, there are plenty more who agree with her message.
The familial atmosphere in Khalifeh’s She Fighter studio makes for a wonderful place for women to come and relax and train, even with their children in tow.
Classes run all week with a section of each week’s classes dedicated to both adults and kids. “It’s great we give the children a trainer, and the mothers a trainer, and they train side by side,” Khalifeh said as she walked onto the pink mats to begin working with a student.
The self-defense training is expansive as it ranges from hand to hand defense techniques to teaching how to guard against knives and other weapons. She Fighter also offers intense private weight loss exercise classes where the client’s success is measured monthly. There are a total of four trainers, including Khalifeh, all of which have long histories in mixed martial arts and defense training. The students’ ages range from four to 70 years old, but the main age group that fills her classes are university age
women wanting to learn to defend themselves.
Students and trainers work together like a big family. One student, Taima Jaber, is taking month-long training courses in self-defense. Jaber said, “I’m confident that I’m able to defend myself now,” she continued, “Lina teaches us to always be strong and don’t underestimate yourself.” When asked if she would be returning for more classes she responded, “Definitely. Lina is the best and I love training here.”
For the future of She Fighter, Khalifeh is looking at possibly building a competition fighting team and franchising to Saudi Arabia. But she doesn’t spend her time planning, but rather living in the moment and reveling in She Fighter’s surprising success. “I don’t plan stuff. I just do it, I really just go for it,” Khalifeh said. Her “go for it” mantra permeates all who are a part of the She Fighter family. All Khalifeh knows is that whatever lies ahead for her and She Fighter, the mission will remain the same. “We are
trying to empower women in general.”
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