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Reflections on the 2023 AWMAI Conference

Recently, I attended the 2023 conference of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors. This was my first in-person conference, and my third year running my own martial arts and self defense program.

I wrote a reflection blog to share in their newsletter, and even though you're not the target audience for the piece, I hope it is a benefit to you, that you read what it's like when people come together in this way. I hope it inspires you to think bigger and connect, whether with an association, a community group, or even a group of your peers. Connection with others is one of the best parts of life.

Reflections on the 2023 AWMAI Conference

By Sifu Marcie Wombold, Self Discovery Self Defense, Renton, WA

If you’re new to AWMAI and/or a new instructor, this article is for you. I’m going to share my reflection and what I learned from attending the 2023 AWMAI Conference.

This was my first year attending, and my third year running my own martial arts and self defense program. Having attended, I can’t imagine not going every single year from now on.

First, the conference is fun! Everyone there has good energy. There’s good food and laughter. There are expressions of respect and appreciation, and lots of love for each other. In our work, when we give so much to other people, this is an opportunity to refill and rejuvenate.

The conference is about making connections. I had opportunities to talk with people who I have admired for years, and I met people whose stories and contributions have already enriched my practice and what I teach my students. I was able to talk one on one with master martial arts instructors, in addition to attending their incredibly useful and relevant classes.

AWMAI is also an opportunity to talk with and train beside instructors from many different disciplines, seeing the commonalities between us, and appreciating the beauty and power of the martial arts in a broader way. For example, my personal training never included demonstrations, but now that I’ve seen them in action, I understand the value to student learning and school cohesion.

I could go on about the other more personal insights I gained from the conference. Discoveries I made in conversations. Questions that the masters helped me answer. But it occurs to me that, just like the martial arts, conferences are reciprocal systems. We get what we give. When we seek, we find.

I came with questions, and I left with answers. And more questions! :) But most importantly, feeling inspired in the work and in this life.

If this next year is your first year in AWMAI, I hope you come to the next conference. And when you do, here’s what I hope you remember:

  • Don’t skip the banquet - we benefit from participating in acknowledgement.

  • Perform in the demonstration - share with us what you love to do.

  • Pack less - and don’t forget your swimsuit!

  • And come sit by me - I want to hear your story.

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