Monday, July 30, 2012

From the IMPACT Archives: How IMPACT got its name

Excerpts from Mark Morris’ “Making IMPACT” in A History of Model Mugging[1]

Backstory from Mark’s history, 1990
In July 1990, Carol Middleton organized a meeting with chapter heads from Boston, LA, DC, Chicago, and the Bay Area to meet with Matt Thomas to come up with a plan to pay him for the rights to use the name Model Mugging, even though he had not taken any steps to protect the trademark. Negotiations broke down and some chapters decided to explore a national organization with a new name; [1] this group is who Mark called the Organization Faction, chapter leaders who wanted to form a national organization. Mark identified two other factions: the Owners (some of the founders who developed Model Mugging into a full-fledged program—Matt Thomas, Julio Toribo, Danielle Evans) and the Community Faction (people who did not want to go either way, but wanted to maintain relationships).
The Chicago Meeting
On March 12 and 13, 1991, the Organization Faction met in Chicago. This meeting was attended by Melissa Soalt, Model Mugging (MM) of Boston; Al Potash and Lisa Gaeta, IMPACT Personal Safety in Los Angeles; Carol Middleton; DC Model Mugging;  Sheryl Doran. Bay Area Model Mugging (BAMM); Martha Thompson and Joe Connelly, Self-Empowerment Group of Chicago (SEG). I was there too -- however I no longer represented a Chapter. Bill Kratoska (MM of Minneapolis) was very supportive of our efforts, but he was unable to attend. We were joined by Laine [Jastram] and her husband, Jeff Evans, representing MM of New York, and Rick Gibbons from MM of Kansas City….
We approved an idealistic Mission Statement that focused on the public good. I pointed out that we were also working together for our own benefit. Failure to keep this agenda out in the open would lead us directly to the same sort of self-serving self-righteousness we all resented so much in Matt [Thomas]. After this good start, we quickly got bogged down in a debate over a name for the proposed association. There was a deeper question underneath this surface issue. Were we trying to create a strong association built around a new trademark or a weak association with a generic name? Most of us agreed that IMPACT was the best sounding of the suggested names. However, concerns were expressed about giving undue influence to the LA Chapter. [According to Mark’s chapter The Dust Settles, in 1989, Irene van der Zande , Al Potash, and Lisa Gaeta decided to establish a new organization. They all wanted a new name for the organization that did not involve the name Model Mugging. In 1989, Al came up with the name IMPACT, the IMPACT Foundation was incorporated, and Model Mugging of Los Angeles began a transition to the IMPACT name.] Al said he was willing to yield the IMPACT name to the national organization.
Sheryl Tips the Scales
In May, Sheryl [Doran] opted to support "IMPACT" as the trademark for the national organization. [Sheryl’s support was critical because she was “the mother” of Model Mugging. She created and defined the female instructor role. She was technically skilled, professional, empathetic, and a skilled facilitator. Sheryl’s combination of networking, word of mouth, and ability to connect with people brought women into the courses. Her business and marketing skills were key to the success of Model Mugging]. At our next meeting, a phone conference on May 16, 1991, we settled on Impact International Inc. (III)…. A majority (the Chapters in LA, the Bay Area, Chicago, and D.C.) now supported a strong association and the III name….
May to October 1991
From June until the December 1991 National Retreat, we held III meetings on a monthly basis through phone conferences….Martha Thompson played an important role (beginning with the March conference) by facilitating our meetings. Through her leadership, we were able to move forward, if only at a crawling pace, through even the thorniest issues…
Impact Personal Safety organized a National Model Mugging Staff Retreat for December…By the time of the Retreat, III consisted of an association between the [former] Model Mugging Chapters in the Bay Area, LA, Chicago and DC….Carol Middleton from D.C. was the first President of IMPACT International, Inc.

[1] Martha Thompson selected the excerpts and has inserted some explanatory notes. To read the full history as written by Mark, contact Martha ( for an electronic copy.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cornered, I Fought Back

From the IMPACT Archives

Between classes 3 and 4 (a once/week course), I was attacked by three youths and one of them pulled a knife on me. I knocked them all out.
The attack occurred in an isolated parking area behind a building. I was taking the back way in to visit my aunt. I had driven in, parked, and then gotten out of my car when they confronted me. If I had been alone, maybe I could have just gotten back into my car and driven off. Unfortunately, my toddler was also out, and I had an infant in my arms, still in his car carrier. My dog was still in the car.
You have to drive into this courtyard and turn around to park. This puts the passenger side of the car next to the building. The building entrance is then right in front of the car, up a few steps, and beyond that there is a dumpster in an angle of the wall. The area near the entrance and the dumpster is completely hidden from the street.
The boys were probably smoking pot or crack or something back between the dumpster and the building. They were big boys, about 18 years old, six feet tall plus or minus an inch or two and slender. After I parked and got out with the kids, they came out and confronted me.
The first one said something like, “Hey bitch, suck my cock.” “Okay, I’ll do anything you want, just don’t hurt the baby.” I shooed the toddler toward the back of the courtyard and got on my knees. This gave me a chance to tuck the baby, still in his carrier, under the front corner of the car.
Number one, meanwhile, unzipped and got his genitals out of his pants. Two and three were still behind him. When he got close, I dropped onto my side and kicked him twice in the groin. I could feel tissue shattering, maybe tearing on his zipper. He fell at the front left corner of the car, unconscious from the shock.
Number two knew that I had done something to number one but he couldn’t really see what. He came around and shouted at me, “What the fuck did you do to my friend? I’m going to throw your baby in the dumpster.” I had started to get up, but as number two reach down for the baby, I dropped onto my side again and kicked him in the ear. Now his head was trapped on the corner of the car at the bumper. I kicked him three or four times. Now he was out.
This jostled my car and set off the alarm. My dog was already barking and this set him into a frenzy. Somehow, he managed to squeeze out of a partially open window. Then he set about barking at and harassing the third attacker.  Number three had pulled out a switch blade, but instead of going after me he bent over, trying to slash at my dog. I saw my chance and took it. I got up and charged him and kneed him in the head. His head rebounded into a metal rail at the entrance. So he was out, too.
I collected the baby, the toddler, and the dog and got them all back into the car. A few blocks away I stopped to call the police, saying that there had been a fight, and they should send an ambulance. I didn’t identify myself.
It took me a while to process this incident. I had mixed feelings about the damage I had done to these boys. Two were certainly seriously injured and the third may have been as well. Finally, I accepted that I had only done what was truly necessary in the situation to protect my kids, my dog, and myself.

Monday, July 16, 2012

AC Racette - IMPACT Chicago Assistant Director

AC graduated from the IMPACT Core Program in 1995 and joined the Publicity Committee in January 2012. You have probably already read the blogs she has contributed and seen the flyers she has produced. Her energy, enthusiasm, and productivity have been inspiring!

The position of Assistant Director is a volunteer position, but an important one as we make a transition to new executive leadership. AC's focus during this transition period (June-December 2012) will be on marketing, communications, and publicity. This capitalizes on her achievements with the publicity committee to date and on her professional goals. 

Here’s what AC has to say about what she brings to this new position in IMPACT:

IMPACT is an organization that changed my life at a time when I yearned to live more broadly, to travel, and to find men allies.

Since my Core Program in 1995, I have been involved in nonprofits, first as Volunteers Coordinator at the Old Town School of Folk Music, then as a graphic designer and editor at the Great Books Foundation, and now as a project manager at Northwestern University. Over the years, I have seeded an interest in nonprofits development as a means to broaden our audience, imagining new products using social media and IS technology tostay relevant to a changing society. I have rekindled my inclination for performance and presentation, first explored as a dance student.

In addition to studying ballet, I draw, I sew and knit, I paint watercolors of women in watery or icy environments, I have fixed up 70s-model cars, and I have performed with all-women percussion groups.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Julie Curtis, Director-in-Training, IMPACT Chicago

Julie is honored and excited to be in training as the new Executive Director for IMPACT Chicago.  She is busy learning everything she can from Martha Thompson, the current Director.  They have mutually declared that her title is “Director-in-Training” until December when Martha will redefine her role with IMPACT Chicago.  She and Martha agree: Martha won’t be going away, but will continue on with our organization working for social justice!
In the late 90’s, Julie’s interest in self defense and understanding the issues around making it available to every woman, not just martial artists, led her to move to Washington, DC to complete an IMPACT BASICS class. Since then, she has been involved as a volunteer, class assistant, operations staff, and more recently as a Female Instructor-in-Training with DC IMPACT.  She looks to complete her certification with IMPACT Chicago.
In 2009, she went with Carol Middleton, Director of DC IMPACT, to Nairobi, Kenya to assist her with teaching other self-defense instructors.  The primary purpose was to teach them to teach weapons defense including defense against knives, guns, clubs, and panga (machete), but what she took most from that experience was a literal “Ah-hah!” moment as one of the instructors realized the value and applicability of verbal de-escalation skills. This moved Julie to explore the nuances and translation of verbal strategies for de-escalation and how they can be effective across cultures.
Julie is a second degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate and Kobudo and has studied other martial arts systems including Tae Kwon Do and Seido karate. She continues training for her weapons certification and 3rd degree with Doug Yates Karate in Xenia, Ohio and she recently re-joined Thousand Waves in Chicago for the camaraderie and daily conditioning.  She is a member of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) and this summer will be attending her 2nd Self Defense Instructors Conference and Special Training.

She is also the sole proprietor of her own consulting practice, Process and Quality Solutions, helping small businesses define their quality management systems and achieve industry benchmarks. She is a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) for agile software development projects and has 20+ years working in information technology.
Julie wants to express her gratitude for the experience and training so many extraordinary members of the self-defense community have shared with her already.  These women and men, and members of their organizations have been invaluable to her growth as a self defense instructor: Carol Middleton, Kevin Hipps, Tim Salisbury, and the team of instructors and assistants she has trained with at DC IMPACT; Doug Yates, Scott Vance, and Tim Wilson of Doug Yates Karate; Lauren Taylor, Defend Yourself; Cathie Reid; Lee Sinclair and the instructors of I’m Worth Defending; Irene van der Zande, Kidpower; Nancy Lanoue, Sarrah Ludden, Marie O’Brien, Kate Webster, and Michelle Curley of Thousand Waves; and the members of the NWMAF.  She’d also like to thank her former housemates, Dana, Bronwyn and Becca for inviting her to teach that first Antioch College’s women’s self defense workshop that ignited her interest in making self defense accessible to everyone and someday, hopefully, unnecessary.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Are you a firecracker?

Do you remember exploding with your IMPACT techniques like a firecracker? In honor of the 4th of July and our annual celebration of Independence, consider how you ignited your Independent spark in IMPACT. Like a firework, you set off a display of great awe.

The noise, light, and smoke of firecrackers is akin to techniques learned in IMPACT.

For example, Ladycrackers are the little firecrackers with intertwined fuses sold in strands or bricks that make fast and furious noises to draw attention. Although there are some derogatory terms associated with these firecrackers, we know the power of repeating, “BACK OFF!” “GO AWAY!” or “NO!”

The “Snakes” fireworks smolder and smoke sometimes in glowing or colorful displays are like “coiling” or lulling an attacker into thinking you will be compliant when you are really assessing your opportunities and subtly positioning yourself to explode with an eye-strike or hip toss.

The Roman Candle, a stick full of various colored bursts of light that splash forward are similar to when you use a steady flow of techniques toward a spectacular end: palm heel, knee-to-the-groin, and knee-to-the-head that leads to a safe escape.

Finally, there’s the reporting and recognition that you are brilliant in your abilities, like a firework!