Monday, September 3, 2012

IMPACT International and Self Defense as a Social Movement:

“One class, twelve women at a time.“
Julie Curtis, Director-in-Training, IMPACT Chicago

It is the first week of August 2012 and I am here in Los Angeles with Martha for the IMPACT International Director’s Conference. I’m sitting at the table with the other IMPACT Directors from Los Angeles (Lisa and Heidi), San Francisco (Lisa), Santa Fe (Alena), Denver (Amelia and Sarah), Columbus (Julie), Chicago (Martha and me), Boston (Meg), D.C. (Carol), and on the phone (Well, Skype, actually.) are New York
(Karen) and Israel (Jill).

Alena mentions self-defense as a social movement and I look around thinking, “THAT is exactly what this is!”

When I took the IMPACT BASICS, social movements were not on my radar. My interest was purely about investigating the program structure and how I could use it as a martial artist. I was passionate about karate and then because of a single experience, became interested in effective programs for teaching women who
weren’t as passionate about karate as I was. i.e., what self defense programs were out there that could be relevant to any and every woman?

IMPACT answered that question. It has hurdled me on a path toward social justice. Given our history, how could we not be part of a self-defense social movement? Chapters in Los Angeles, Bay Area, Boston, D.C. and Chicago have been around for over 25 years.

“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)… At our next meeting, a phone conference on May 16, 1991, we settled on Impact International Inc. (III)” ~ Mark Morris, a history of IMPACT International, Inc.”

We’ve been growing as chapters and coming together for a long time. Through our programs and workshops, we’ve reached thousands of women and men. Lisa Gaeta likes to think that she has been part of the self-defense social movement: “one class, twelve women at a time.“

I get that. I know she has been part of the movement. I remember watching videos of Lisa coaching and wondering what would it take to be a “Whistle.” By the way, Lisa, you weren’t reaching only one class, twelve women at a time, you were reaching others of us who aspired to be instructors.

Since I took the BASICS in D.C., it has been absolutely compelling to be a part of something that has so much potential for creating an equal and just world.

IMPACT chapters are in three countries, ten states, and eleven cities, with two more states in the process of either sponsoring a course or establishing their own IMPACT chapter. IMPACT courses have been delivered in several other countries, e.g., Mexico, Kenya--at least that I know of and I’m sure if I polled the collective memory of the directors, the list would grow…

And once a year, since 1991, the directors come together to share experiences, learn from one another, and to our own benefit, grow the possibility that we can and are creating a less violent world. This year the Directors agreed to continue to engage with more organizations involved in preventing and ending violence. If you have connections with any of these types of organizations and would like to join in this effort, please contact us.

For more on Mark Morris’ History of IMPACT International, check out the blog archive:

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