Fight Like a Girl – A Short Film by Jillian Rivera

“Fight Like a Girl” is a short 5-minute documentary about how several women in the organization use martial arts as a form of empowerment and as an escape from sexual assault.

These women include Sensei Munah Holland (TSMA North Plainfield), Nicole Tuminski (TSMA Englewood), Naima El Jaouhari (TSMA Chelsea), Lauren Fish (TSMA New Windsor), Sophia Mirabella (TSMA Chelsea), Kim Ansaldo (TSMA Chelsea), Danielle Harrington (TSMA Princeton), and the director herself, Jillian “Grizzly” Rivera (TSMA Yonkers).

In the film, the women discuss why they chose martial arts, and how it has helped them in life. They disclose personal experiences with sexual assault and abuse, and how they encourage women everywhere to take action and stand up for themselves with martial arts.

A little foreward from the Director, Jillian Rivera

I chose to make this film because as I am getting older and becoming more aware of the world, I am noticing that how no matter how much you hope and pray, not everyone will be treated equally. And we cannot control the way other people want to treat us. However, we can control how we react to those people, how we feel about ourselves, and how we demand to be treated with respect.

Throughout my years of training in this organization, I have met so many hardworking and confident women who I look up to. I wanted to talk to them personally (and with a camera, no big deal) about their own life experiences with sexual assault, and how they deal with it, since it is a topic that has had a lot of attention, lately.

I learned so many things about these women that I had never known. Coming from different backgrounds, they all had different stories, but the one thing that they all had in common was that they have experienced harassment, discrimination, assault, and/or abuse because of their gender.

Once they all started training at Tiger Schulmann’s, they felt liberated and confident knowing that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to defend themselves.

When “Fight Like a Girl” was screened at my school, Fordham University, all I could think was, “Who knows how many people in this very room are going through the same exact thing right now?” I got goosebumps. This is why I wanted to create this film. I wanted to let those people know that they are not alone.

I want to help put an end to the battle of the sexes, and will fight for the equality of all genders, races, religions, etc. I created this film for women everywhere. I want every woman and young girl to see this film and feel empowered, knowing that they have the ability to fight back and stand up for themselves. No more feeling like a victim or a potential victim. It’s time to take action.

Who is the Jillian Rivera?

Jillian “Grizzly” Rivera started Tiger Schulmann’s at five years old, because her parents wanted her to learn how to defend herself. They knew that being a female in today’s society was risky, and that she would eventually be a target for assault and discrimination. She worked her way up in the ranks, and excelled quickly in the sport. Not only did she excel in martial arts, but she also excelled in her schoolwork, piano lessons, and other sports.

With her experience in martial arts, Jillian has developed the confidence to try new things, and the self-discipline to not quit when things get difficult. Martial arts taught her to be a perfectionist, and to always try her best. She is now a 1st degree black belt, and an amateur fighter with a record of 1-0.

‘Grizzly’ got her nickname from Shihan Tirelli in Yonkers, because she is a very soft-spoken and polite young lady, but once she gets on the mat to fight, she’ll maul you like a Grizzly bear.

Jillian will be stepping  out of her comfort zone of being barefoot and sweaty on the mat, and on May 11, she will be competing for the title of Miss Teen New York Earth USA at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center.