The first woman in the United States to receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Master Charles Gracie, lives right here in Reno. Jiu Jitsu is basically one-on-one ground fighting and many consider it the ultimate self-defense - including Kelley Farrell.

Kelley has studied martial arts for nearly 20 years and just recently opened her own studio called Conviction Martial Arts & Fitness in Reno. It's her passion. "I'm a fourth degree black belt in mixed-style martial arts; a little bit of traditional, street self-defense and also some Tai Boxing." Add to that, the last 12 years she has studied Jiu Jitsu and earned her black belt in this combat sport as well. "It's the ultimate self-defense for women, I believe," she says. "There's no bias, whether you're 130 pounds or 200 pounds - I still have to be able to perform at the same level." And she does! Just ask her student - and fellow instructor, Zach Roubo. "I've seen her take down a 300 pound man. She's tough," he laughs.

Jiu Jitsu, as Kelley explains, is more focused on technique, leverage, locks, holds and planning your next move to escape an opponent. As a result of years of training and discipline, Kelley has no fear rolling with the guys. "It's a male dominated sport. There are not a lot of women who do it. My goal is to change that."

Kelley wants more women to participate, not just because she loves the sport, but because she believes it can make a difference in any woman's life. Student, Marci Zavala agrees. The endurance athlete says while it is a great workout, she takes away so much more. "It gives you confidence, makes you feel like you can defend yourself." That is Kelley's goal - to give her students confidence, self-awareness and the tools they need in a dangerous situation. "To know how to get out of them, to be dominant in those positions, it's really empowering for women."

Kelley is offering a free self-defense workshop for women on Saturday, January 11th from 12-2 p.m. at Conviction Martial Arts on Longley Lane in Reno. To sign up, contact Kelley at CMA:

Conviction martial arts
4690 Longley Lane, #7
Reno, Nevada 89502
Phone (775) 828-2515

 Written by Kristen Remington