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Interview with Sara Salam, Founder of Luminous Warrior

Interview with Sara Salam, Founder of Luminous Warrior

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 12:13am
Luminous Warrior founder, Sara Salam (left) demonstrates proper striking technique in a self-defense class earlier this month

Luminous Warrior is the perfect example of a fitness-oriented enterprise that transcends a place to get in a workout. The studio offers its members a much more holistic approach to fitness than simply working up a sweat.

Luminous Warrior’s mission “is to create a space in which individuals tap into the power of their full potential, see possibilities, experience and manifest miracles, and live authentically aligned with their hearts.”

To achieve this mission, highly trained instructors lead students in a variety of pursuits, including self-defense techniques, Kali, high-intensity interval training, energy medicine, and shamanic healing. The studio also features a holistic psychotherapist and offers massage therapy.

Students can receive more personalized instruction through mentorships with founder Sara Salam.

Sara has an impressive list of qualifications that includes certifications from the Krav Maga Alliance, Krav Maga Worldwide, and Fit to Fight.

In addition to her self-defense training, Sara is also a certified Master Practitioner in Energy Medicine and Luminous Healing through the Four Winds Society. She is trained in trauma management, was certified as a rape crisis counselor, and completed Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) and IMPACT programs. She has worked with healers and caretakers in trauma centers and nonprofit organizations over the past 10 years.

We recently spoke with Sara about Luminous Warrior.

1. Your studio offers a diverse array of services. How do these services work together to create Luminous Warriors?
Salam: Luminous Warrior’s approach is that we are whole people. As such, we need to train the “whole” person—mind, body and spirit. While we focus in our self defense and fitness classes on the body, and in our healing programs on the spirit and mind, every program you choose at Luminous Warrior includes tools for the mind, the body AND the spirit. As a member goes through life, their emphasis might change from the physical to the spiritual or vice versa. By being part of the Luminous Warrior Community, you can access each of these aspects in one place instead of having to address each aspect separately. It is what makes Luminous Warrior truly unique.

2. Energy medicine is probably a new subject for many people. Would you elaborate on what it entails and how it works to improve wellness?
Salam: Often we think of energy medicine as a separate field of study when in fact energy is a part of who we are. Each one of us has a physical body. We also have an energy body. The energy body is the electro-magnetic field that runs around and through the body and connects to the physical body through the chakra system (which many know from yoga) and the meridian lines (which acupuncturists use to heal and transform a person). It picks up signals from the environment and sends those signals through the chakra system into the spine and from there into the brain, neurological and muscular system. The energy body is what animates the physical body and its signals make themselves known through physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Because most of us have not learned to interpret these physical signals, many of us lack essential information that can increase wellness in the body and wellbeing in life. We assume that physical signals have a physical cause, when some may have a mental, emotional, or even an energetic or spiritual source. We teach our members to work with the energy field in a way that is safe and life supporting. As a result, they become more powerful with managing their emotions, thoughts, and feelings, are able to better interpret their intuition, increase their physical wellbeing, and create alignment in their lives.

3. Do students tend to make use of all Luminous Warrior has to offer, or do they tend to gravitate towards one arena? For example, self defense training or shamanic healing?
Salam: Typically students come in with a defined purpose in mind. Personal safety or physical fitness being the areas individuals most gravitate to initially. As they progress in the levels, they become more curious about the energy medicine tools that they learn in classes. Most members need to experience the impact of the energy medicine tools we use in class and the elevating impact they have on their lives. Once members experience the power of energy medicine, most are drawn to more in-depth training in energy medicine to heal, transform and empower their lives.

4. Please describe the major differences between the self-defense training you provide and the training one would undertake for sport fighting, such as mixed martial arts?
Salam: We are purely training for self defense in real life scenarios. The major difference is that we don’t train for sports fighting, no flashy moves, we don’t have fight or sparring classes, and we do not believe in competition or dogmas. We believe that you don’t have to be in shape to be able to defend yourself. People of any size, shape and age can train at our center without feeling alienated. While physical fitness affects your ability to defend yourself in life; true self defense is designed to be used by people of any size, age and shape, and we do our best to accommodate anyone wanting to learn about self defense. The other aspect in which Luminous Warrior sets itself apart is that we don’t just train for the “fight” or for the self defense aspect. Our training also includes inner and outer awareness, avoidance and de-escalation techniques, and most importantly, self care. We encourage our members to take responsibility for their actions, make their own choices about when and why it is worth fighting. We acknowledge that the “right” decision for one person, may not resonate with another person. We understand that the way we feel about defending ourselves today may change tomorrow. And we believe that learning how to take care of yourself and how to remove traumatic imprints from your cellular, mental and emotional memory after a fight, or even after training, are as essential in self defense training as is learning about physical self defense techniques.
Sara holds focus mitts for a student in an advanced class. Click the image for a larger version.

5. What is the progression through the programs? For example, are there specific milestones for achievement?
Salam: Members in our self defense classes can progress through levels. There are review workshops to prepare members for testing and level test that are intended to assess an individual’s readiness to defend themselves effectively. Once they pass the test thy move from one level into the next. Self defense has 5 levels, and Kali has 3 levels. Our fitness classes are open to everyone and focus on helping each person to step more fully into their power or help them master a particular skill. Achievement is not a goal in fitness classes, though some people have goals that they try to reach and we support them with their goals. Energy medicine programs are not achievement oriented. Instead, we focus on our life’s journey, and support each other in staying on path, on purpose, and in joy.

6. Many people find that a gym or martial arts school serves an important role in their social lives. How does Luminous Warrior foster a sense of community among its members?
Salam: Bringing mental, emotional and energy medicine tools into all of our classes automatically fosters a sense of connection and community. So do our retreats and workshops. We also offer member-only events, socials, potlucks, superhero nights, street clothes weeks and many other events in which members can mingle and connect on a deeper level. Our retreats and workshops are prime examples of fostering community. As a whole, what I am most excited about at Luminous Warrior is the community it has created. The people that gather are extrodinary, and as a local, instructor-run, non-franchised business, this is something we are extremely excited about. We support each other to become more authentic in who we are, stay out of judgment, acknowledge each other’s gifts, and support each person’s unique path.


Interested in training with Sara at Luminous Warrior? The studio is located at 520 10th St. in downtown Washington D.C., two blocks from Metro Center and Gallery Place.

For public transportation information, links to social media, and to watch a short video, visit the Luminous Warrior page in our places database.

To learn more about Luminous Warrior offerings and instructors, as well as schedule a trial class, visit the Luminous Warrior website.

Don't forget to check out additional photos below. The photographs were taken during self-defense classes earlier this month.