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Shihan Darlene Defour

2016 Recipient: Award of Excellence

The more than 50 nominations for Shihan Darlene DeFour to receive the NWMAF Award of Excellence reflected several themes: leadership, excellence, and caring in martial arts skills and teaching, empowering women, social justice, integrity, scholarship, loyalty, insight, genius, dedication, contributions to her communities, inspiration, welcoming, and so many more. Both her martial arts as well as her academic achievements were noted over and over, especially how she deploys her scholarship to the betterment of our martial arts world. In her over three decades of training, she has achieved an amazingly high skill level, and in turn shares with and inspires those around her. Paragraph here

Shihan DeFour, a native of Harlem, New York, graduated from Fisk University and received her doctorate from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is an associate professor of psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where her research has explored the various ways that violence in the forms of racism and sexism, as well as physical violence, impacts health and everyday life experiences.

Shihan DeFour has been training in the martial arts for over 30 years and has been inducted into the AWMAI Hall of Fame.  She is the first and only woman in the San Yama Bushi Ryu Ju–jutsu system to hold the rank of 9th degree black belt.  She also holds a 6th degree black belt in Kushinda Ryu Shotokan karate.  She is the chief ju-jutsu instructor at the Harlem School of Ju-jutsu and Self Defense.

Shihan DeFour co-founded (with Lauren Wheeler) the NWMAF Anti-Racism Council in 2008.  In 2010 and 2011, she introduced the topic of Applied Microaggressions Defense at the Self Defense Instructors’ Conference, designed to address subtle forms of racism that permeate all aspect of society.  She instructed this topic again in 2012 and 2015, and has helpd to establish anti-oppression training as a core competency for self-defense teachers and other professionals committed to social justice. Her dedication and strengths have propelled NWMAF towards a more open, honest, and inclusive organization.