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Nadia Telsey pioneered the field of verbal and emotional (as opposed to solely physical) self-defense, beginning with the founding of a feminist self-defense organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1970.

She taught empowerment self-defense to women at the University of Oregon for 17 years, from 1989 to 2007. Nadia served on the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, and many of her students have gone on to teach empowerment self-defense around the United States.

As a foremother of the field, Nadia has received many awards, including:

  • Founder’s Honors: National Women’s Martial Arts Federation,

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists,

  • Human Rights Award: City of Eugene, Ore., and

  • Change Award: Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force.

Nadia wrote a version of Get Empowered: A Practical Guide to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World (called Self-Defense from the Inside Out) in 1988, photocopied it, and used it successfully in college classrooms with about 2,000 young women in her years at the university. Nadia’s text is the foundation of this book. 

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