We Got This #2: Jaye Spiro, Owner of Mejishi Martial Arts in Ferndale

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDWe Got This blumz01#2:  Jaye Spiro, Owner of Mejishi Martial Arts in Ferndale

(Crystal A. Proxmire, July 1, 2016)

Ferndale, MI – Women from around the world gathered in Washington DC on June 14 for the United State of Women Summit.   The event featured a series of speakers celebrating the successes of women while also addressing the areas where women do not yet have equality.  About 5000 people attended, with speakers brought in from all over the world.  Among them was Martial Arts instructor Sensei Jaye Spiro who owns Mejishi Martial Arts.

Seventh Degree Sensei Jaye Spiro is a “Trailblazer” for women who is known around the world for her skills in martial arts and for her teaching ability.

She was invited to speak at the conference as part of a panel of female trailbazers including the first female NFL Coach Dr. Jennifer Welter (who was baby modern natural 01 adinterim coach of the Arizona Cardinals for a month in 2015), Anne Toth, VP of Policy at Slack Technologies (a company that prides itself on diversity and supporting the needs of employees), and and Carla Harris, Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley.

“The caliber of women who were there was high powered and exciting for all of us,” Spiro said.  “It was truly amazing, revitalizing and empowering.”

Spiro talked about the need for consciously building confidence. She had been moved by the speech given by Vice President Joe Biden in the morning where he talked about the problem of violence against women.  “1 in 5 in their undergraduate years be the victim of violence.  It’s really an epidemic and I very much like that the President and Vice President are taking a strong stand for women.”

She herself had been the victim of violence and sought out ways to feel more empowered. That led her into martial arts. Through classes for adults and SaharaNEW02children she not only passes on values of respect and discipline, but also teaches people to stand up for themselves and others.  She started Mejishi in the basement of a local church in 1979 and moved to the Ferndale studio in 1994.  Generations of kids have learned martial arts at the studio.

“I have grandchildren in classes now that I taught their grandparents,” she said.

Mejishi thrives in Ferndale with boys, girls and adults from diverse backgrounds coming to learn stick fighting, karate, and self-defense. She feels at home in the progressive community, but still remembers the challenges she faced that have earned her the distinction of “trailblazer.”

“We really opened the doors for women in martial arts.  At first women were ignored, harassed, and not taken seriously.  Sometimes we were really challenged, but it only made us work harder.”

Jacks AdThe summit helped Spiro and her wife Su Ferrari take stock of how far they have come and how far women have come as well.  Though there is still work to do, Sensei Jaye is hopeful.

“This generation has experienced women leadership unlike any other,” she said.  “We still have the task of raising them right. Vice President Biden talked about making sure boys and girls know what is right and wrong and we’re not condoning the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality.

“Michelle Obama said something important.  When she was asked what men can do to help women, she said ‘be better.’  Just ‘be better.’  Men have to actively understand women’s issues and have to hold each other accountable for inappropriate behaviors.”  The summit did not just talk about the importance of raising capable, caring, fair children – it showcased some.ctechad

“There was an 11 year old entrepreneur who is motivated by trying to solve the problem of the declining bee population. She had gotten stung by a bee and was afraid of them, but then she started learning more about them.  And when she learned they were dying she wanted to help save them so she started selling lemonade and now her product is being sold in Whole Foods stores,” Spiro said.  “We have so many young women that are so incredible.”

She said hearing the girl, Mikaila Ulmer of SweetBee Lemonade, made her think about the importance of supporting girls and women all over the world.

Looking at how far women have come was also powerful for Spiro.  “30 years ago women were first talking about rape culture.  Now our President is.”

Judy_Palmer30yearsThere are still areas that worry Spiro though.  “We are enamored in a culture of alcohol, tough sports and guns.  There is a super machismo culture out there that tells men and boys what they are supposed to act like. I think that’s been seen as more of a negative, but it’s still here.  Women are treated like sex objects and there is huge industry of pornography. These issues are not about sex, but about power.”

Teaching men to understand their power, and teaching women to appreciate theirs is part of what makes martial arts training and self-defense a good path for some.  “They walk out of here more respectful of boundaries and space.  It’s very much part of what martial arts culture is all about.”

Learn more about Mejishi Martial Arts go to www.mejishi.com/.

Learn more about the United State of Women
http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/#/the-summit

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