All Women Empowered Self-Defense educator Jodi Choate O'Meara taking on an assault by live-attack simulator Jonathon Brockhoff. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

When women, or anyone for that matter, are suddenly attacked, they face a gamut of disadvantages. There’s surprise, extreme shock, and the fact that the assailant is almost always bigger, stronger and usually has the crime well-planned. A good self-defense instructor, steeped in situational awareness, will teach women who tend to find themselves traveling solo (either at home or abroad) how to avoid an attack in the first place by not becoming a victim. Techniques are taught with real-world bits of wisdom, with no time wasted on creating false hopes or delusions. These combat or martial arts self-defense classes train women to channel their inner Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and Lorraine in Atomic Blonde. After a few classes with these professionally trained instructors, women leave with broadened shoulders and a newfound sense of badassery. Time to kick butt and take names for anyone who tries to come at you and your Yves Saint Laurent bag.

Owner and instructor John Brockhoff with wife Jodi Choate O’Meara and son Jonathon Brockhoff. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

The words Krav Maga mean “contact” or “hand-to-hand combat” and is the official self-defense system of Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli security forces—derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, Judo, Aikido and Karate. Krav Maga Manatee brings these practical techniques to the floor, along with instinctive movements and realistic scenarios. Aside from the regular rigor of Krav Maga training classes is the All Women Empowered (AWE!) Self-Defense 5-Class Course—offering detailed instruction/coaching designed by owner and instructor, John Brockhoff, who has over 20 years of experience teaching Krav Maga. “When I started, the average student was one who wanted to learn the skills of Krav Maga as an interest and the majority of students were men,” he shares. “Over time, I had more and more women students who wanted to learn Krav Maga for self-defense purposes, women who were concerned for their safety despite having athletic skills and in some cases, a martial arts background.” Brockhoff worked with field experts, including a variety of community and professional agencies who dealt with domestic violence and women victim groups, as well as his wife Jodi Choate O’Meara, an educator, who knows how to design courses. With the help and input of some key people, they developed AWE! for women to develop efficient skills, a defensive, fearless mindset and the physical ability necessary to “Get in shape. Go home safe.” 

Alertness, directness and conviction are elements of motion Brockhoff focuses on in his classes in order for his female students to be able to take on a target and claim self-preservation if they happen to find themselves in an “Oh, sh*t” situation. With over 1,000 graduates since its initiation, the All Women Empowered Self-Defense Course continues to run annually over the course of five months and always sells out with a max of 16 students at a time. The final class includes a final test of acting out three different real-world scenarios (walking the streets alone, standing with back turned, sleeping in bed at night, etc). Students have opportunities to apply their skills in live attack simulations fighting off and overcoming one of the seven male facilitators who suit up as real-world “bad guys.” “We video record all of the assault simulations and in the follow-up session, we review each one and break it down in slow motion to analyze the responses,” says Brockhoff. “Women are able to learn their strengths and where they can improve. The videos can be graphic and hard to watch but are used as a powerful learning tool and a confirmation of great strength and success of the women.” 

Women graduate with a better personal awareness of danger and physical tactics to protect themselves. Whether trying to navigate their way back to their hotel down an unknown corridor in a foreign country, being the last to leave the office, taking the trash out at night, or unloading a cart full of groceries in an empty parking lot—graduates are able to deal with potential threats, recognize the minds of criminals before physical assault, and develop the inner and outer confidence to defend/free themselves. And even with over 1,000 women trained and certified in AWE!, the course continues to evolve.


“Every time we implement the course we make improvements to better meet the needs of the women and the concerns of the times,” says Brockhoff. “Statistics show us how women are frequently the target of violent attacks. Women on college campuses suffer a high rate of attacks—this is not a new trend. But what is changing is that women are being encouraged to speak up and stand up. In the past, a female victim may feel embarrassed or ashamed, she may have been encouraged to keep quiet or even made to feel like it was her fault. With the education and support in our communities, and in society, women are becoming empowered and supported in standing up for themselves so that they, and others, are no longer victims.” 

Krav Maga Manatee, 4725 Lena Rd. #107, Bradenton, 941-545-8222,, @KravMagaManatee