Fight Like a Girl
© Marta Malaspina
SheFighter: The Middle East’s first female self-defense studio
Founded by Lina Khalifeh in Amman, Jordan in 2012, SheFighter is the first female self-defense studio in The Middle East. The goal of SheFighter is to end violence against women and to teach self-defense to millions of teenagers and women around the world.
Despite facing regular threats of violence and even legal action, the enterprise has gone from strength to strength. Lina has already trained over 10,000 females, she speaks to people across the globe through seminars and live streams, and all her classes are completely booked up for the summer. For Khalifeh this is just the beginning.
Lina has a background in martial arts, a black belt 3 dan in Taekwondo, and experience in Kung Fu, boxing and kickboxing. She started training people in self-defense out of the basement of her house, after an unfortunate incident with one of her friends who was abused by her father.
The purpose of SheFighter is to train females to defend themselves with a mixture of Taekwondo, boxing and self-defense techniques from different types of violence, focusing on school and university students. They also run workshops on female empowerment and discuss topics like domestic violence. Their training has even reached females who might need it the most, “We have trained about two thousand Syrian refugees so far and we are, in 2017, going to sign up another contract with an NGO to train more and more women…maybe another two thousand.” Says Khalifeh.
The goal is to train 10 million women globally by 2025. “My original plan was 3 million, but I’ve expanded it.” By training trainers, Lina aims to reach that goal. So far, she has trained almost 75 trainers in Jordan while targeting other countries too, in the hopes of turning SheFighter into a global franchise.
In the beginning, Lina received threats, notes on her car, emails and phone calls, even a lawsuit from the husband of one of the girls she trained, but that never stopped her from pursuing her ultimate goal of empowering the ladies. “Sometimes I get demotivated, but when you hear a ‘thank you’ from a little girl I’m happy all day.” Says Lina.
Lina even got the chance to train actress Emma Watson after meeting her at the One Young World Summit in Canada. One of her biggest supporters happens to be US President Barack Obama who endorsed Lina at the Global Entrepreneurs Event in 2015, stating “Thank you Lina. We want to help women live with dignity and safety.”