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Monday, August 20, 2012

I Found My Voice and Stood Up For Myself


Interview with Leslie Eto, IMPACT Chicago Registration and Workshop Director

AC Racette, IMPACT Chicago Assistant Director interviewed Leslie. She says: Catching Leslie
Eto is no easy feat. She works nighttimes in the River North area in futures trading and comes
home mid-morning. Her bedtime is when most of us are starting to wrap up our workday. She
flips her schedule to be with friends, family, and IMPACT on weekends. She had studied Aikido,
seriously, before taking her first IMPACT Core Program in 1990.

AC: What makes you still believe in IMPACT’s methodology?

It really helped me at work. At the time, I had been on the trading floor 12 years. In the
beginning, I once went home crying because it was a very abusive environment. I couldn’t take
it. I’d hide and do my work and leave. But after I did the IMPACT training, it was different. I
remember this broker screaming at me and I was really angry inside. It turned out that one of
his guys had made an error and he was trying to pin the blame on me. Later, I saw him walking
around the pit and he looked at me, saw that I was staring at him and he looked away really
fast. I yelled “Apology accepted!” Everyone looked up. At the end of the trading session he did
apologize. I was amazed. This was after taking IMPACT. I was able to find my voice and really
stand up for myself.

A woman from my Aikido class, who took IMPACT, was later involved in a carjacking and
her first instinct was what you learn in IMPACT... not from years and years of martial arts
training. There’s a real difference. With IMPACT, the use of muscle memory is so good and the
techniques are simple and direct.

On the website, we say any woman can do this, as long as you can walk up a flight of stairs
with a bag of groceries. The techniques are easy to remember; once you do them, they stay with
you. In the workshops I lead, I like seeing people learn one or two techniques, learn how to
yell and learn about proper distance. Students challenge their own ideas of what self-defense
is. We’re talking about real life situations and the things you can do with your own body—no
weapon.

I’ve seen women with chronic conditions, like arthritis, take the class and succeed. They might
be less inclined to go full speed but they learn the techniques and deliver a knockout blow. The
instructors aren’t going to let anyone finish without doing that. A woman in her 60s called, who
had a condition where her joints were loose and she couldn’t lock her knees, ankles, wrists. I
referred her to Martha and Margaret because this was pretty serious. They told her if she was
uncomfortable with anything, she could sit to the side and observe. The instructors would be
cautious and tell her what she could realistically do and not do. She had to back off with the
palm-heel, but everything else she could do, especially the ground techniques.

I’ve had people in my own workshops with deep-seated doubts who were very resistant. They
doubted the techniques but, in the end, they came through and embraced both IMPACT’s
techniques and basic premise that women are fully capable of defending themselves. It’s
the support that they get. Some people just doubt that anyone will care about or value a
woman's understandable fears about sexual assault. In IMPACT classes, the staff creates a safe
environment where students can support one another.

That’s the main thing I loved about my class. Martha and the other  instructors were so supportive; I’ve
never seen anything like it.

If you know someone who needs IMPACT in their lives, if you’ve been meaning to take the class
and haven’t gotten around to it, do it now! Our next Core Program is offered at Belle Plaine
Studio, September 22, 23, 29, & 30. Check out our website at http://www.impactchicago.org/

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