“The privilege of seeing transformation in our participants is what gives me endless energy for this work.”

“Studying self defense gave me a framework to constuctively oppose the unfair systems that create violence.”

“I am always touched and inspired by the stories our students share. This keeps me coming back.”

Yuko Uchikawa

Yuko has been training in Goju-ryu Karate since 1992 and trained in Jeet Kun Do, Pekiti-Tirsia, and Ba Gua. She began Ruckus Safety Awareness with Akko Nishimura and Dee Hamaguchi in 1993.

In 1997, Yuko took the program to Japan and started Jikaku Anzenjutsu Ruckus. Jikaku Anzenjutsu Ruckus became one of the first organizations to teach an empowerment model of self-defense for women in Japan. Yuko has traveled extensively across the country, conducting workshops, training instructors, and giving lectures on self-defense and conflict resolution.

Recently, Yuko has turned her attention to the effects of trauma and violence and the necessity of self-care in the recovery process. In February 2012, at the invitation of a women’s organization working with the municipal government, she traveled to Okinawa, Japan, where she taught self-defense as well as a day-long training on the effects of secondary (vicarious) trauma and self-care to social workers, therapists, and physicians.

In addition, Yuko is a New York State certified mediator and volunteers at the New York Center for Interpersonal Development, mediating family and community disputes. She also mediates Early Intervention, Special Education, and Custody and Visitation disputes and helps families work through issues that arise in those areas.

The combination of self-defense, conflict resolution, trauma work, and mediation skills makes Yuko a unique educator in the field of anti-violence and peace education.

Yuko received a BA from Brown University, BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Jenny Lee

Jennifer Lee walked into her first women's self defense class during a Take Back the Night event in 1991. She left the workshop transformed by the experience and sought further training with the instructors, initially at Brooklyn Women's Martial Arts, and later under Roberta Schine at The Karate School for Women.

She was recruited by Ruckus Co-Founder Akko Nishimura in 1997 and has been teaching self-defense and safety awareness with the group ever since. She has taught safety skills to women and youth of color in the Tri-State area, California, and Georgia. In addition to Goju Karate and Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, her physical training includes traditional and modern Chinese martial arts.

Jenny holds a BA from Columbia University and currently works in New York as a film editor and producer. She is a second-generation Korean-American.

Dee Hamaguchi

Deidre Hamaguchi started learning judo at age 8 in Ottawa, Canada at Takahashi Dojo. She was a member of the provincial and national teams as a teenager and earned her first-degree black belt in 1987.

Deidre credits judo for developing her strong work ethic, determination, and dedication to community service. In 1997, Deidre became a United States citizen & earned a second-degree black belt. The following year, she became the USA national judo champion in the 45-kg division.

Throughout the 1990s, Deidre initiated and conducted judo programs for youth in two public housing developments in Harlem and at P.S. 9 in New York City. The programs were featured on CBC-TV NHK, and Fujisankei-TV.

Deidre began training in boxing in 1993 and campaigned successfully for women to be allowed to compete in the New York City Golden Gloves tournament. She fought professionally from 2000 to 2006 and trains at Gleason’s Gym and Wild Card Boxing.

In 1993, Deidre met Akko Nishimura and Yuko Uchikawa at the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation workshop and they began the conversation that lead to the founding of Ruckus Safety Awareness.

The first Ruckus workshop was held in 1994 and Deidre co-taught classes to women of Asian descent and the LGBT community in New York.

She earned a BA in Architecture from Yale University and a MS in Environmental Policy & Management from the American Military University and is a high school teacher in math & physics.