Monday, June 25, 2018

Is Any Self-Defense Training Better than None?

As Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) instructors talk more about their work, other self-defense practitioners and students raise questions. ESD Instructor Clara Porter answers some of those questions below.  
Is any self-defense training better than no self-defense training?
No. If you are taught physical self-defense in an environment where success means being able to fight through something every time and being able to power over another person every time, it is unrealistic, doesn’t address the realities of violence that women face, and it can damage women’s self-confidence.
Teaching solely physical skills does a disservice. From street harassment to sexual assault by strangers or familiars, physical tools are not always the best or safest option. There are many reasons women may choose not to fight back physically, particularly in situations with people they know and love. Women who have had a self-defense course with a narrow approach to every situation are not realistically prepared.  Failure in the real world after taking such a self-defense course can result in self blame causing psychological, emotional, and physical damage that is more harmful than if they had not taken a self-defense course.

By promoting Empowerment Self-Defense, are you disrespecting other systems of self-defense?
Promoting one thing is not necessarily tearing down something else.
Most self defense systems do not have the data to support their approach. We have the data to show empowerment self-defense works and is rooted in knowledge and experience built over the last 40 years. There is a basis for the claims we make.
The ESD model can be achieved by anyone who wants to teach self-defense and whose goal is to make people’s lives truly safer.

What are the benefits of Empowerment Self-Defense?
What I find most compelling is that after taking an ESD program, people experience increased confidence and feelings of self-efficacy and are more likely to intervene early in situations. They are also more likely to use their voices, to de-escalate, and to interrupt inappropriate behavior. Further, people with ESD training are more likely to report and are less likely to blame themselves.
One of the things I find very fascinating and we need more data to understand is the dramatic reduction in attempted sexual assault when comparing college women who have had ESD training with those who have not. What are the particular ways that women are embodying their ESD training that reduce attempted assault?

Clara Porter is the Director of Prevention. Action. Change in Portland Maine. She is certified by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and the Center for Anti-Violence Education. She is also a member of the Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Chipping Away at Rape Culture with Girls' Emotional Self-Defense Training

In "We Can Chip Away at Rape Culture by Teaching Girls Emotional Self-Defense," Thu-Huong Ha writes about empowerment self-defense (ESD) programs that teach girls--preteen and teens--how to say an effective "No" while also claiming their emotional and physical space. 

She addresses:

  • The distinctive features of ESD
  • The importance of practice
  • Assertiveness is not aggressive
  • Recognizing boundary violations
  • ESD works
  • The Future is forthright
Check out the full article where she draws upon the insights of many ESD instructors, including:
No Means No Worldwide Lee Paiva, Sun Dragon Susan Shorn, IMPACT Boston Meg Stone, Defend Yourself Lauren Taylor, Breaking Free Nadia Telsey, IMPACT Chicago Martha Thompson, Safe Passage Lynn Marie Wanamaker.

Monday, June 11, 2018

IMPACT Chicago Instructor Retreat

2018 IMPACT Instructor Team

[front to back]
Martha                                              Rachel
Katie                        Margaret
Rob                     AC
Nat      Bruce

IMPACT Chicago instructors met for an all-day instructor retreat in May. We use our annual retreats as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to the future. Each of us co-organized  and co-led a portion of the agenda.

This year we addressed:
  • The language we use about consent in IMPACT for Girls
  • Language to increase LGBTQ inclusion in the Core Program
  • Optimizing teamwork
  • The hip toss to see how we could improve our teaching of it
  • Three major documents: the re-certification process, applying to be an instructor trainer, and the instructor coordinator position
  • Organizational expectations
  • 2019 Schedule
A dedicated group of people!

Monday, June 4, 2018

IMPACT for Girls: Reflection from M and her Mom

In May 2018, IMPACT Chicago offered IMPACT for Girls at North Park Elementary School (NPES). One of the participants and her mother who attended a final portion of the program shared their experiences.

Participant M, Age 11, NPES
"I felt more empowered and stronger than I thought I was, both physically and mentally. I was so proud of myself and my friends."

Liz Burgess, Parent, NPES
"I was overwhelmed by such a rush of different emotions all at once while watching my daughter work through the scenarios. I was scared for her. I was shocked by how real this felt. I was impressed by how she was able to handle herself with her voice and body. I was proud of the confidence and focus she exhibited while doing so. I was holding back the tears watching my beautiful, smart and strong girl rise up and take control of a potentially unsafe situation. Thank you IMPACT Chicago!"