Who We Are


Brooklyn Goju students and teachers, past and present.



We are a school for women, trans people, and survivors of all ages. We work to provide a safe space for all of our students.

Training in the martial arts is a great way to build physical strength and endurance, along with self-confidence, mental focus, and discipline. The style of karate we practice is called Goju (go: hard, ju: soft). At Brooklyn Goju, we see karate as a way of teaching and building peace and justice in the world.

We understand that oppression is intersectional. Our teaching philosophy and approach help make training available to students of different backgrounds and abilities, while maintaining the rigor and discipline of martial arts in a safe environment. We encourage ourselves and each other to identify and break through our limits, and we prioritize keeping everyone safe. This approach helps us all grow in self-awareness and self-confidence. At the end of every class, we bow and say, “To each other and to our strength.” This tradition reflects the understanding that as we build our own strength we are also building community strength and spirit.

Sliding scale fees based on income and free childcare make Brooklyn Goju uniquely accessible.

Brooklyn Goju has a rich history based in inclusiveness and activism. We are a new incarnation of the karate program at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, which was founded in 1974 as Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA). BWMA was a training space for women who at that time were unwelcome in many martial arts schools in the United States. BWMA’s founders Annie Ellman and Nadia Telsey, were committed to making karate available to excluded populations. Annie Ellman retired from teaching karate in 2018.


Brooklyn Goju continues the legacy of BWMA by upholding its feminist, anti-racist, and anti-heterosexist core principles. These principles are reflected in our practice, and in the ways that we teach and learn: with deep respect for ourselves and each other. This creates seriousness, compassion, and integrity on and off the training floor.


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