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Identity & Community

Free Women's Self-Defense Workshop To Be Held Saturday

Looking Out Foundation

Mona McDonald had no idea how to protect herself.

“There was a certain amount of fear that a lot of women experience just walking around in your everyday life,” she said, recalling herself in the mid-1970s. “You absolutely don’t know how to handle yourself if someone were to approach you, confront you or physically attack you.”

McDonald and co-owner Sue Dunn, matrons of Lioness Martial Arts, are hosting a free self-defense workshop for women and girls age 16 or older from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Winchester Thurston School campus in Oakland. Participants can register via email at

The pair were chosen as part of the Fight the Fear Campaign funded by folk artist Brandi Carlile, who performed at Stage AE on Monday.

“It’s all in the back,” she told the crowd, pointing to Dunn and McDonald. “We’re going to pay for it. You guys just gotta go learn.”

Lioness was born from a nearly 40-year love of shorin-ryu karate and other martial arts. Dunn is a 6th degree black belt; McDonald is a 1st.

“The physical skills that we teach are not kung fu flying kicks,” McDonald said. “They’re not out of reach of regular people. This training is appropriate and accessible to everybody. It doesn’t matter your age, weight, physical condition – anybody can learn this stuff.”

Fight the Fear is a community oriented violence-prevention initiative run by experienced instructors and funded by Carlile's Looking Out Foundation to support causes like self-defense training, music education, hunger, homelessness and other issues both nationally and in the cities where she performs.

She told the Grammy Foundation in 2012, "It has a really broad reach and a broad spectrum, but I think that that's important because there's need in a lot of areas.”