gemma sheehan girls who fight inc
gemma sheehan girls who fight inc
danika smith girls who fight inc
danika smith girls who fight inc

Gemma Sheehan
Founder & Head Coach

Danika is the administrative lead at GWF. She has a bachelors of science, is an avid solo traveler, and a trained ballerina. 


Gemma is an ex MMA fighter with over 14 years experience training and competing in martial arts; a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt; and the head coach of our programs. 

Danika Smith
Program Director

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Film & Media Features

you can take the girl out of the fight, but you can't take the fight out of the girl.

Our story, written by Gemma Sheehan.

I started training in kickboxing when I was 14 years old and quickly set my sights on becoming the next MMA star. Six years later I had an MMA record of 5-1; I had just won the Pan Ams for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; and I was ranked the top female MMA fighter in Ontario. But before my 7th fight I decided that I didn't want to be a pro fighter anymore. Aside from the brain damage thing, I started to feel like pro fighting wasn't as dreamy as I'd made it. But MMA had given me so much: fighting skills; a community; a passion; a challenge; and a belief in myself that a lot of my peers lacked. I realized how few programs there were for women and how low the female participation rate was in MMA; and I wondered how I could change that. How could I bring the invaluable lessons of martial arts to the average girl who won't join a typical gym? That's the question that Girls Who Fight was founded on and it's still what we strive to improve upon today.

our philosophies

The Physical (Techniques That Work)

Our self defense curriculum is mostly based on techniques from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. But we know that self defense is not the same as martial arts. We have three requirements for the moves we teach from combat sports: they must be proven effective at the highest level of MMA competition, they must apply to real life self defense scenarios, and they must be simple enough for everyday people. We teach moves that are easy to remember and execute in a chaotic high stakes street attack. Reality is the name of the game in any self defense course worth attending and we design our entire program with reality in mind. 

The Tactical (Prevention & Response Strategies)

The three essential elements for a violent attack are an offender, a target, and an opportunity. Our curriculum breaks down each element and teaches students how to be a high risk target, how to spot crime opportunities, and how to recognize the behaviours and tactics of predators. Assessing an attack at each angle, our students learn practical ways to reduce their likelihood of being targeted and improve their ability to predict violence before it happens. 

The Mental (Fighting Spirit)

Your will to survive or to protect your child is your most powerful weapon. Skills and tactics are important defensive tools- but what people need most is to learn to trust their instincts and tap into the survive-at-all-costs mindset when it's needed. That's what allows you to fight back with the aggression necessary to prevail. To show them within seconds that they were disastrously wrong when they chose you. Our stress-scenario portion of the class allows you to get experience staying calm and acting under pressure- not just drilling the moves back and forth with a friendly partner. 

womens self defense course dallas fort worth

girls who fight today

Today we are headquartered in Fort Worth Texas, providing weekly classes and courses. We offer programs in Toronto during August and winter break. We lead workshops for organizations and individuals in-person and virtually, and spend quite a bit of time learning and writing about self defense on our blog.

Thanks for reading our story, we hope you'll stick around!

-Gemma Sheehan