Monday, June 24, 2019

Empowering Self-Defense Instructors

“IMPACT connected me spiritually with all the other women in the group and gave me courage, a sense of belonging and empowerment.” Danuta

So much of the power of IMPACT and other empowerment self-defense programs comes from students learning from and supporting each other. And guess what? Collective learning and support is also the backbone of ongoing professional development of IMPACT and other empowerment self-defense instructors.

Are you already teaching self-defense? Learning to teach? Want to know more about teaching empowerment self-defense? Then check out the Self-Defense Instruction Conference (SDIC) hosted by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF),  North Central College in Naperville, July 17-21 or for one day of training called Super Saturday on July 20.

The NWMAF is a leader in empowerment self-defense. Through SDIC, NWMAF offers professional development and credentialing to self-defense instructors, including cutting-edge research to best-practices in classroom management, from non-profit service to running an effective business.  The 2019 SDIC Committee has organized an enriching and exciting conference: teaching self-defense against hate crimes, teaching self-defense to youth with development disabilities, how to get CEUS for self-defense programming and so much more!

Maryam Aziz:
Hate Crime Self-Defense Part 1: Applying Research to the Self-Defense Workshop
Hate Crime Self-Defense Part 2: Teaching Defenses Against Hate Crimes
Jacqueline Barco:
Trauma Sensitive Martial Arts Training

Liz Fitzgerald:
Building Training Scenarios: Creating Successful SD Scenarios
Effective Role Playing for ESD Training
Marketing ESD: Identifying and Speaking to Your Audience

Justine Halliwill:
Sexual Coercion: How Do I Defend Myself?
Sexual Assertiveness: Creating Common Language and New Models

Julie Harmon:
The ABCs of Experiential Exercises for Teaching Self-Defense: Young People with Developmental Disabilities
Allies and Upstanders: Parts 1 and 2

Arlene Limas:
Protecting Elite Athletes with ESD

Diane Long:
Self-Defense for Sexually Exploited Youth
Sensory Integration and Self-Protection
Best Practices for Seeking CEUs for Martial Arts and Self-Defense Programming
The Energetics of Embodied Activism

Nancy Moore:
How to Teach Falling and How to Fall
Writing for Martial Arts and Self-Defense Instructors

Jay O’Shea:
Theater Games for ESD Trainings
Getting Comfortable with Role Play in ESD Teaching

Clara Porter:
Workplace Sexual Harassment Training: An ESD Approach

Yudit Sidikman and Carmel Drewes (Core ESD curriculum):
ESD Model Course: What is Empowerment Self-Defense?
ESD Model Course: Verbal: assertiveness, intervention, de-escalation
ESD Model Course: Escapes from Grabs and Holds
ESD Model Course: Fighting Back Physically
ESD Model Course: Scenarios and Wrap-Up

Meg Stone:
How to get Grants for ESD

Joyce Mende Wong / Amy Jones / Joanne Factor:
If It's Valuable, Shouldn't We Charge for it? The Merits of Offering Self-Defense Classes for Free

Thank you to the NWMAF SDIC Conference Committee 2019
Anne Kuzminsky, Chair
Clara Porter
Joyce Mende-Wong
With support from Darla Bolon

Monday, June 17, 2019

Turn Your Feelings Into Fearlessness

When you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation, how does it make you feel?

Fearful Afraid Scared Nervous

Worried Intimidated Panic

Frightened Anxiety Terrified Helpless

For help, many look to family and friends, some look to therapy, and then there are others who choose IMPACT.

IMPACT participants have asked themselves this very question, and their answers are just like those listed above. According to Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear, many women should trust the power of their intuition and follow through on their instinct. Women shouldn’t worry about someone else’s feelings in an unsafe situation that would compromise their own, because often times, it’s a matter of life and death. Pay attention to that inner voice, and allow it to embrace your power of perception.

You’ve now looked at all of your options and you decide to sign up for an IMPACT course. Now you start to wonder what to expect. Your mind eventually starts racing in hopes of either calming you down or getting super excited over what’s to come.

Your class has finally started. The first day is usually quite comical, or so you think. You don’t feel as strong as you’ve always mentally thought. You can’t comprehend why the various scenarios you are participating in are not reflecting what you see on television. You may feel terrified or paralyze at what your about to experience. Yet, others may feel they are reliving a traumatic event.

Regardless of how you feel when you initially walk-in, the instructors and volunteers hope that your emotions become much different throughout the course. With the help of your classmates and the power within yourself, the instructors and volunteers hope you find yourself feeling...

Encouraged Uplifted Tested Reassured

Strengthened Motivated

Inspired Comforted Supported Driven

Just as quickly as the weekend starts it soon comes to an end. All those feelings you had prior to and during may have changed multiple times the course have changed again - this time for the better, but hopefully not for the worse. .

So, how does the IMPACT organization want you to feel after you’ve taken a course?
Empowered Strong Courageous Fearless

Bold Aware Heroic

Confident Tenacious Unyielding Brave

Women and girls have found the strength, courage, and power to set boundaries, assess dangerous situations, and respond effectively to verbal or physical attacks. IMPACT allows individuals to walk into a safe space - feeling accepted despite their circumstances or what they’ve been through. There is just one goal in mind - turning those negative words into positive ones.

No matter what option you look to for help, remember to never ignore your intuition, and turn your feelings into fearlessness!

Maple Joy
New IMPACT Chicago Contributor--look for future posts by Maple Joy the third week of each month.

Monday, June 10, 2019

IMPACT Grads Talk about Consent and Boundaries

 "I'm much more comfortable dropping into my 'take me seriously' voice." Chloe
Graduates who have reported intrusive or unsafe situations after the class, often say taking a strong stance and using a powerful voice (no matter how loud) was typically all they needed to do to disrupt a potentially uncomfortable or threatening situation. At its foundation, IMPACT is focused on people building the skills to be able to say YES to what they want and NO to what they don’t want.

We recently asked IMPACT Chicago Facebook Friends if IMPACT had helped them to come to any realization or new understandings about consent and boundaries. Below are some responses.

IMPACT Chicago graduate Lauren notes that she developed a  deep understanding of consent and bodily autonomy:
"I took the course almost 10 years ago, but since then I have thought about consent 100% differently. Not just my own--but now that I have a son--I respect his bodily autonomy and teach him that his body is HIS--and that no one has a "right" to it. I hope as he grows up this translates to a better understanding of the way he approaches other people and respects their boundaries."

Mingkwan took her first course in Tokyo and then at IMPACT Chicago. She shared two stories about how she has put her IMPACT training into practice.
"I was walking towards Tokyo station at night when I saw a man strangling a woman. It was a very crowded place in Tokyo. So many people were looking at them, but they didn't do anything. I wasn't sure if it was domestic violence or he had mental issues but I started to observe to see if he had weapons. Then I grabbed her hand and we ran from there together. I asked if she wanted to call the police but she refused. After she left, I called the police and told them what happened and asked them to patrol the area."

"This happened after I moved back to Thailand. I was walking through a dark and isolated alley at night when  a man approached me. He said, 'Honey, I want to ask you something. Can I f--- you.' Without IMPACT, I'd have been terrified and felt powerless. But I started to observe my surroundings. Even though it was a dark alley, I lived nearby and knew the area well. I knew that I could ask for help and he was standing faraway from me so he couldn't harm me. So I said, 'No, I'm good. I don't think having sex with you would be fun. If you were good at it, girls would have come to you and you wouldn't have to stand here and ask this question. He looked really shocked. I walked away. I know you've heard this a thousand times, but thank you for transforming my life."

IMPACT Chicago graduate Chloe (pictured and quoted above) also wrote about her experience of the IMPACT Core Program in IMPACT, Diva Remix.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Changes at IMPACT Chicago

Front: Lisa, Mindy, Amy Back: Tara, Martha, Kathleen
Admin Team members not pictured: Laura & Katie 
Administrative Team Co-Leaders Lisa Amoroso and Martha Thompson are announcing changes in the IMPACT Chicago Administrative Team as of June 1, 2019. 

We will miss Tara Brinkman, outgoing Registration and Workshop Coordinator, and Kathleen Williamsen, outgoing Office Coordinator, both of whom have helped us create a strong Administrative Team of volunteers and paid staff and have committed to being available for ongoing training with Amy Harmon, incoming Registration and Workshop Coordinator, and Mindy Hilt, incoming Office Coordinator. We will also miss Laura Dini, outgoing Outreach Coordinator, who has been a valuable staff member attending IMPACT Chicago Board meetings in addition to her other work. We also appreciate the contributions Caroline Villa made while we have been in transition. See below for more about these changes and the people who do so much of the behind-the-scenes work for IMPACT Chicago.

We are excited that Amy and Mindy are joining the Administrative Team consisting of  Admin Team Leaders Lisa and Martha and Treasurer Katie Skibbe. Currently, Registration/Workshops, Office, and Outreach Coordinators are paid staff positions and Admin Co-Team Leaders and Treasurer are volunteer positions. 

Registration and Workshop Coordinator
The Registration and Workshop Coordinator is the “front-line” of IMPACT. As the first person most people outside IMPACT communicate with, the Registration and Workshop Coordinator needs to communicate in a manner consistent with the IMPACT mission and process. Besides handling the important and big jobs of scheduling and registration, the Registration and Workshop Coordinator is who we depend upon to build supportive relationships with people who want to take one of our programs and to build collaborative relationships with organizations to offer workshops.

Tara Brinkman, Outgoing Registration and Workshop Coordinator

Tara says: Reflecting on the past six years as the Registration and Workshop Coordinator IMPACT at Chicago, what I’m most proud of and what I’ll miss most is the collaborative spirit of our admin team and our accomplishments in expanding access to IMPACT programming regardless of economic status. While I am sad to be transitioning out of this role, I am looking forward to continuing my work with IMPACT by leading short workshops, as well as joining the IMPACT Chicago board in the Fall of 2019.” 

Lisa says: "Tara’s ability to focus on the underlying issue or the heart of a matter has allowed our administrative team to stay focused and successfully resolve issues quickly and often to grow as a team as a result. She is a forward-focused person, who is also present in the moment in the most positive of ways. Tara has a true gift for articulating the principles of empowerment-based self-defense. We are thrilled that she is going to be joining the board and so IMPACT will continue to benefit from her wisdom and spirit."

Amy Harmon, incoming Registration and Workshop Coordinator

After completing the Core Program in 2017, Amy became a class assistant and What is IMPACT facilitator. In 2018, Amy took on a big role as the IMPACT Chicago Volunteer Coordinator. When Tara decided to move onto other adventures, we all agreed we wanted to ask Amy to consider becoming a paid staff member. And we are so fortunate that she said, "Yes!"

Amy says:  "I vividly remember the positivity and power that filled the room during my Core Program: brought by every single participant, and nurtured and supported by an incredible team of instructors and volunteers. While Volunteer Coordinator, I've had the joy of watching group after group fill their own rooms, and the heart-smile of playing a part in assembling the amazing components of their support teams. I expect that experience to deepen in all kinds of ways as I move into the Registration/Workshop Coordinator position. I've had an amazing role model in Tara, and I hope to do her proud!"

Martha says: "Amy has superb organizational skills and is efficient and effective. She also has a simultaneously joyful and serious approach to tackling big issues and dealing with small details. Tara has left big shoes to fill but what I so appreciate about Amy is that she will treasure and honor those big shoes of Tara but will be wearing her own big shoes. I am looking forward to working with Amy in her new role in IMPACT. 


The Office Coordinator position involves overseeing the annual fund drive, managing the materials and bags for all IMPACT Chicago programs, coordinating a lot of internal communications, and routine office tasks. The Office Coordinator has to have strong verbal and written communication skills, extensive experience with Google Drive, Microsoft Office Productivity tools, and Photoshop. 

Kathleen Williamsen, Outgoing Office Coordinator

Kathleen says: Working for IMPACT has been such a blessing for me. Everyone involved in the organization has been so caring and kind, intelligent, considerate, and most of all inspiring. I just can't believe how lucky I have been to work with these incredible administrators and instructors. This has been a very rewarding part of my life, knowing that I've played a small part in helping other women and girls find their voice. It's a reality fulfilling and powerful feeling. Leaving IMPACT was an incredibly difficult decision, but it is in the best interest of the organization and myself since it's been so hard to manage things from out of state. IMPACT will always be a part of me."

Lisa Says: Kathleen epitomizes what we mean when we call IMPACT a “nimble organization.” Kathleen manages to do all of the required invisible work without adding any unnecessary steps or creating any red-tape. She gets the job done. She is not the type of person who needs or seeks the limelight and is such a centered, principled person that she simply got the work done. We tried hard to recognize her invisible work but with her humble approach, we know that often we took for granted that something would be taken care of without fully acknowledging that it was Kathleen who had taken care of it. Kathleen’s positive energy and generous smile will be missed.

Caroline Villa, Outgoing Office Support

When Kathleen was managing the Office from Wisconsin, IMPACT Grad (Core 2013; DAMA 2015) Caroline Villa stepped up to do necessary office work.

Caroline says: "IMPACT has a special place in my heart since the courses I took gave me back my power. It was my pleasure to help during the period of time when difficult decisions needed to be made."

Out Martha says: "We are so grateful for Caroline's willingness to do important office work for us while Kathleen was managing the office from Wisconsin. We truly could not have managed as we did without Caroline's willingness to step in.

Mindy Hilt, Incoming Office Coordinator

The Office Coordinator position involves overseeing the annual fund drive, managing the materials and bags for all IMPACT Chicago programs, coordinating a lot of internal communications, as well as routine office tasks, The Office Coordinator has to have strong verbal and written communication skills, extensive experience with Google Drive, Microsoft Office Productivity tools, and Photoshop. 

Mindy says: I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to work with IMPACT Chicago. Last year my daughter took the girls program and learned so many skills in such a short time but also came out of it with a new sense of empowerment that I believe all girls and women can benefit from. I’m excited to bring my experience to IMPACT and help IMPACT grow and thrive and continue its important mission."
Martha says: "We had several applicants for the Office Coordinator position. Lisa and I interviewed Mindy and after she left, we looked at each other and I said, "Should we run down the street after her?" We, instead, immediately sent her an offer via email, text, and voicemail. We were thrilled when she said, "Yes."

Laura M. Dini, Outgoing Outreach Coordinator
The Outreach Coordinator position involves connecting more people and organizations with IMPACT programs and mission.
Laura says:  "I've been very proud to work with IMPACT Chicago. IMPACT's mission & goals are crucial in building a safer society. There is still unfortunately an imbalance of power in our society and until balance is achieved, IMPACT will continue to strive to empower women & girls to discover the strength they have within. I agree with Gandhi who said; "Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery."

Lisa says: We are so appreciative of Laura's work and energy. Laura's commitment to IMPACT’s mission has always been so palpable whenever she is sharing information about our programs! I knowshe will continue to be a champion of IMPACT’s work.