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Life and Work with Tonda Linsey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonda Linsey.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My Self-Defense and Advocate journey began as a Police Officer, where I worked (mostly patrol) for over 10 years. Around 2013, Empowered Defense was created when I was preparing to transition out of law enforcement and didn’t want to just abandon all the knowledge, experience, and skills I had acquired and sharpened over my career so I began to brainstorm what to do with it. I decided to focus on female self-defense mainly due to the great need for education and training for women and girls to be able to protect themselves in a greater way and make safer decisions. I had witnessed so many avoidable or preventable incidents and situations where women and girls did not have the proper tools, mindset or information to deal with violent, toxic, dangerous and abusive environments that I wanted to do something about it.

Human trafficking, #Metoo, Sexual violence, discrimination, rights violations, and the list can go on and on… women are so undervalued, overlooked, marginalized, underserved, etc. I felt self-defense was a good way to empower sisters to prevent, defend against, and rise above these situations. Although we can never control a man or any other person, there are real simple solutions that can reduce your risk of being attacked and reduce your risk of being in threatening situations.

I am where I am today because I serve, my mission is to be used as a vessel. There is an enormous need for solutions and not just females but society is finally acknowledging the issues women and girls face daily in this world. Acknowledging is one thing, taking action and demanding change is another thing though. It is definitely a process.

The mission is to empower every woman and girl with this education and training, which in turn, shifts the narrative surrounding women’s safety and violence against women.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a roller coaster in the last several years, not a smooth road at all, but a worthy journey for sure! Funding is always a challenge for new businesses so I have definitely dealt with that. Every obstacle I have faced has gotten me to where I am today. I have had to just be creative and resourceful over the years. Another challenge was getting people to prioritize their safety. I like to compare it to a health and wellness journey. We all know we ‘need’ to exercise and eat certain foods and avoid others. However, making time to exercise and choosing to eat “right” etc. is something many of us put off and procrastinate about. We know the value, know we need it, but the urgency isn’t there because many times there is no immediate threat to our health and results aren’t immediately seen.

Now, when you throw in a cancer diagnosis, or life-threatening disease, etc. all of a sudden, a fire is lit under us and we kick procrastination to the curb and start loading up on our veggies and cutting out sugar, fatty foods, dairy and meat in an effort to heal ourselves. We go into overdrive to heal ourselves and try to keep cancer from progressing.

That is many times the same way people deal with personal safety. You take a few precautions here and there but often times you’re slow to prioritize acquiring skills and knowledge in self-defense unless something happens. Part of the problem is conditioning and mindset so trying to get people to adopt a new way of thinking is usually a slower process.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Empowered Defense – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Empowered Defense™ is my platform and much what I do is new and uncharted territory in many ways. I educate, train and empower women and girls to be able to combat and escape physical and sexual assault. Self-defense is a mindset, it starts waaaay before a fight. I released a book this year called “F FEAR: A modern-day women’s self-defense guide” because there is only so much I can cover at one time in the classroom when it comes to mindset. Every female needs this book, it is a life-changer.

Specifically, I specialize in rape escape and am known for my holistic approach to women’s personal safety. I am most proud of being able to reach and serve the women and girls who are most vulnerable to being victimized in our communities; and planting seeds that will impact not only their safety but how they see themselves.

I am also proud to be a black woman in the self-defense world. Representation is important and I am able to connect with a whole new audience of women and girls that look like them or came from a similar background and cultural experience. And because of that connection and relatability some ladies are more receptive to the information I am sharing versus the same info coming from a male. Women truly want this information they just haven’t articulated it because it hasn’t occurred to them that this type of training is available. Outside of don’t talk to strangers, watch your drink, and don’t wear short skirts, etc. many ladies have NEVER really had anyone speak to them directly about self-defense, personal safety, and especially not sexual assault.

What sets me apart from others is my background and experience as a former Master Police Officer for over a decade and I teach women how to ESCAPE RAPE through non-martial arts techniques. Have you ever heard of anyone teaching Rape Escape? Hey, if that doesn’t set me apart, I don’t know what else will, lol.

Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
This is a great time for female leadership because who better to equip women and girls with self-defense tools and techniques than other women. The self-defense, martial arts, and personal safety industry is sooo male-dominated that I don’t feel there are any specific barriers per se. It gives females an advantage in my opinion because they aren’t seen as much in leadership/instructor positions.

Generally, in society, I will say that the biggest barriers to female leadership is mindset… for men and women. Men because many want to protect their position and the ‘boys club’ and mindset of the ladies in the sense of allowing fear to keep them from entering spaces we (females) normally may not be seen in larger numbers. But I do believe change is happening and steps are being made more often to change that narrative in many traditionally male-dominated spaces. For example, all the women who were elected to political office this year.

Women have a long history of being amazing leaders. We are truly the greatest leaders and warriors, I believe sometimes we just forget that about ourselves.


  • My book F FEAR: A Modern-Day Women’s Self-Defense Guide is $14.99
  • Available at in paperback and ebook ($9.99)
  • F FEAR Video Series- “Self-Defense 101” e-course available soon for $37

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