Nappanee studio hosts self-defense workshop

May 19—NAPPANEE — "Women Empowered," a self-defense workshop, was given Saturday at the Nappanee Public Library by husband and wife team Luke and Lauren Johns.

The Johns are the owners of Gracie Jiu Jitsu Nappanee, and on Saturday brought some of their tactics and training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the library to demonstrate how women can defend themselves in a variety of situations, from domestic to public self-defense.

Lauren said that the art was developed by the Gracie family — their studio is licensed under and affiliated with the family but is not part of it officially.

"It uses leverage-based techniques, as opposed to say strength or speed," Lauren said. "Because of that they developed a program specifically for women."

She added that the program focuses on the 20 most common types of attacks women might face, and offers "scalable" options, ranging from verbal assertiveness to lethal force.

Johns said her studio has had a seminar with Newmar, in Nappanee, and that Saturday's seminar at the library was their first public one.

"We had about 20 that signed up, so we'll see," she said shortly before the seminar got started.

Nikala Herr, who now lives in Milford but grew up in Nappanee, said she was excited to take part in the seminar.

"I'm kind of eager to see what it's about and open minded to see what is going to happen," she said.

Lauren Johns added that a major focus of the seminar is to help women develop a new understanding and appreciation "of what your body can do" with a theme of "respecting boundaries."

"Three out of four attacks against women are from someone who knows the target," she said.

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Steve Wilson is news editor for The Goshen News. You can reach him at