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Monday, August 31, 2015

Creating Safer Spaces in IMPACT

IMPACT participants often tell us that our programs feel “safe” even though a focus of the course is defending oneself in realistic attack scenarios. Our programs are an example of empowerment self-defense practices which include a commitment to creating safer spaces.
A safer place is where each participant

  • is treated as an important part of the classroom community and members of marginalized groups do not face mainstream stereotypes or are marginalized
  • can freely and fully participate 

  • is welcomed regardless of gender identity or expression, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability
  • is treated with respect and dignity.

Elements of a safer self-defense training space
·         Introductions of instructors establish competence and compassion, such as  providing information, word choices, and storytelling to convey:
ü  Skills to teach self-defense
ü  Classroom management skills
ü  Ability to support a range of emotions and issues that may arise
ü  Flexibility
ü  Compassion for and acceptance of others
·         Ground rules that make expectations public and clear, such as
ü  Confidentiality
ü  Treat self and others with respect
ü  This is a community where no one is isolated, told what to do ignored or judged
ü  Being fully present
ü  Active and nonjudgmental listening
·         Introductions of participants establish that we are creating a community that supports each person having a voice and choices about how to express themselves within specific guidelines, such as participants:
ü  have options and choices about how to present themselves, not a free-for-all or no options
ü  have options and avenues about how to express their concerns
ü  are asked to speak from one’s own experience, not expressing their opinions (serial testimony)
·         Establish violence as a social issue, not an individual problem, such as
ü  Reference to ways that cultural values and norms support violence, inequalities in experiences of violence and responses to self-defense
ü  Making it clear that responsibility for violence is the responsibility of perpetrators and those who ignore it; not the responsibility of targets of violence
ü  Making it clear that there are no absolutes or formulas for self-defense or only one way to respond to any situation because violence arises in a social context and people are targeted differently as are their efforts at self-defense
ü  People will not be blamed or belittled for choices they have made or will make
Martha Thompson & Alena Schaim
2015 NWMAF Empowerment Self-Defense Model Course


Monday, August 24, 2015

The Power of Presence


In “The Power of Presence,” Silke Schultz explores different meanings of presence and how it relates to self-defense, empowerment, and becoming agents of social change. Read more at the Touchstones of Empowerment.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Healing from Oppression



In “The Socialization Process of Oppression and How to Heal from It,” Two Cranes explores ways that shame, stigma, and silence are produced through socialization.  Ways to transcend these harmful dynamics: 


  • Connection transcends shame 
  • Speaking out transcends silence
  • Unconditional acceptance transcends stigma
  • Reclaiming ourselves transcends negative socialization

For more details, check out the blog post on Equality is Coming

Monday, August 10, 2015

Our Voices Matter

 Feminist Empowerment Based Self-Defense Program models:
  • Women and girls voices matter, they have ownership over their own bodies, and are agents of change.
  •  Provide support to build positive social norms.
  • The power and autonomy of women and girls is respected and expected.
Read more about CALCASA’s (California Coalition Against Sexual Assault advocates) view of Feminist Empowerment Self-Defense.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Self-Defense Deserves A Rightful Place

It is often suggested and many have stated that we need self-defense training because we can't simply wait for social change to happen. Of course THAT IS TRUE. But I don't like this thinking because it tacitly implies that IF social change - a decline in rape culture- were to happen, we wouldn't need to do or offer self-defense.

I can't 'like" this particular line of reasoning because the myriad powers and shifts that good training engenders goes FAR beyond stemming current day rape culture-and the need to solve this problem. I view self-defense and what it releases as a primal and powerful life force - and as must-know-skills. As long as there are a handful of people on the planet, self-defense skills will never be passé. And the mojo that it turns on has SO many ripple effects ...the courage it liberates, the confidence and fighting heart it engenders, the strengths that are applicable to all areas of one's life. And did I mention? It just plain feels good. Self-defense deserves a rightful place in the constellation of life itself.



Melissa Soalt, Founder, Creatrix, Author at Fierce & Female