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Life and Work with Jane McKenna

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane McKenna.

Jane, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
While I was in college, I was running on a bike path and was attacked by a serial rapist. I got away from him (thankfully) and got a few punches in. At the time, I had four years of martial arts training, which is the only reason I was able to getaway. It motivated me to get my Black Belt in Tae-Kwon-Do karate and teach others the skills that made all the difference for me in that situation.

I began teaching karate but wanted to learn more about self-defense so I enrolled in a self-defense school called Contemporary Fighting Arts to learn street fighting. I also started training in weapons and became a Cane Master, learning how to use a walking cane for blocks, strikes and self-defense under Sifu Ramon Martinez.

I now run my own company, Jane Self Defense, where I teach students, adults and senior’s how to defend themselves in today’s fast-paced world. I focus on situational awareness, de-escalation skills, and striking techniques. My goal is to teach people how to end the fight quickly and strengthen the best strike for that particular student.

San Diego County hired me to teach at all of their county offices. I also teach self-defense seminars at fortune 500 companies and have private clients who want to learn self-defense in a short period of time. I am a certified personal trainer and weight loss coach and love combining self-defense training with an everyday workout—who doesn’t love a 2-for-1 gym session?

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As with anything worthwhile, there have been many challenges along the way. I just moved to San Diego last year and had to start over again, which is especially hard in a client-based business. My advice is to follow your heart but don’t quit the day job too soon. Also, things like marketing and branding are incredibly important, so don’t forget them. Be involved in your community and network—great relationships are everything for your business and your soul. Keep at it and success will come!

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a lifelong learner who prides herself on being a well-trained and well-rounded teacher and trainer. Health, fitness, and safety are my true passions and I’m thankful to be able to live them out every day and pass the gift to others. I wholeheartedly believe self-defense training is an asset to everyone and want to be able to share the skills I’ve grown with as many people as possible

I create an environment that’s challenging, yet welcoming—truly looking at each student as an individual. I appreciate being able to offer classes and gym sessions that give people more than a better physique (though that benefit is great too!). Self-defense training is a sort of 2-for-1 where your takeaway so much more than you do in other fitness classes.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
So, in terms of experiences, I had growing up:

I am the youngest girl of nine children. All of my family members are very successful—the women even more so. My father said to me very early on, “You can do anything you want in life, and be successful at it.” That has always stuck with me.

I also went to an all-girls prep school and the teachers said the same thing my father said. That kind of affirmation gives you self-confidence an encourages leadership. I was President of my class and not afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Taking martial arts only helped continue to foster my confidence, self-discipline and warrior spirit.

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