2012 Recipient: Founder’s Honors
2015 Recipient: Award of Excellence
Grandmaster Jaye Spiro is the 2012 recipient of the NWMAF Founder’s Award, in recognition of her dedication to this organization since first helping to co-found NWMAF and her ongoing contributions to support and sustain NWMAF’s mission and outreach. She has served on the Board of Directors, worked to establish and sustain the NWMAF Self-Defense Instructor’s Certification program, and helped to open NWMAF’s doors to the community at large.
She is also the 2015 recipient of the NWMAF Award of Excellence in the Martial Arts. Grandmaster Spiro has owned and operated Mejishi Martial Arts in Ferndale, MI since 1979. She is one of just 13 women to be honored with this award in the first 40 years of the history of the NWMAF.
The Award of Excellence is conferred upon women who have contributed, trained, and taught martial arts for over 35 years. Jaye Spiro is a 7th-degree black belt in Ai Mute Shotokan Karate, a 6th-degree black belt in Modern Arnis an original student of Manong Ted Buot in Balintawak Escrima and a founding member and first chair of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation.
In the early 1970s, she was one of the first women Karate-ka in this country. She has taught martial arts and self-defense classes not only in the Detroit area but in many parts of the United States from California to New York and also in Central America and Europe. She has often been honored in her career, including the Member of the Year Award from NWMAF twice, the NWMAF Founder’s Award, and induction into the Michigan Karate Hall of Fame, the Modern Arnis Halls of Fame, the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors’ Hall of Fame, and the Midwest Women’s Hall of Fame.
As a teacher, and sensei, Jaye Spiro has taught thousands of people karate and self-defense. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, recognized the need for self-defense instruction for non-martial artists as well as self-defense instruction that works on the street for women coming up against attackers often larger and more muscular. Spiro developed a self-defense program that is part of the Mejishi Martial Arts curriculum as well as being a standalone self-defense class. She has also pioneered teaching self-defense to those with disabilities, especially the blind.
The guiding statement for Sensei Spiro’s school is “Empty Hand, Clear Mind, Open Heart.” She fully lives these words and conveys them to her students and the larger community in which she lives and works.