Monday, October 30, 2017

What do Empowerment Self-Defense Students Learn?

Mona MacDonald, Lioness Martial Arts
For some people, “self-defense” brings to mind images of Bruce Lee kicking and punching (and spinning and flying!) to get out of a dangerous situation. No wonder people can feel intimidated!

By contrast, Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) is designed for everyone. The skills are accessible to people of all abilities, and they’re designed to keep us safe in everyday situations, not just in violent ones. Consider some of the many ways our safety and wellbeing may be threatened – harassment, bullying, boundary violations, unwanted attention, sexual coercion, emotional abuse, physical assault.

ESD students learn a range of skills and strategies — giving them a range of options — to successfully deal with different kinds of unwanted situations. Students are empowered to choose for themselves what actions will be best for them in whatever situation they face. Students take home many tools from ESD classes including:

Accurate information increases our understanding of violence and our ability to assess safety risks and possible actions. In ESD classes, we address threats to personal safety, the many forms of violence in our culture, and how gender socialization, racism and classism impact safety. Common myths and misperceptions about violence and perpetrators are also dispelled using current research and statistics.

Awareness Skills
In addition to being mindful of the external environment and assessing the situation they are in, ESD students learn to understand and trust their intuitive feelings. Reading body language, recognizing when boundaries are being ignored or challenged, and projecting confidence are some of the skills students learn to use in their daily lives to help stay safe and in control.

One of the most powerful and versatile safety tools we have is our voice. In ESD classes, students learn to use their voices to stop or interrupt unwanted and potentially dangerous behavior. Skills include de-escalation, setting and defending boundaries, speaking assertively and YELLING. Students also use their voices to add power to their physical techniques.

Physical Skills
ESD teaches fighting as a last resort. The goal is to respond with sufficient force to get away to safety (rather than prolonging the fight to win or to punish). Students learn simple but effective physical skills, targeting the most vulnerable points on an assailant’s body. Unlike martial arts techniques, these skills do not require years of study and practice; instead, they are fairly easy to learn in a limited amount of time.

Resources for Healing and Support

ESD instructors can be a valuable source of information and referral to those seeking help with personal safety and trauma recovery. Students are provided current information about organizations and services available in their local communities such as hotlines, crisis centers and shelters.

Mona McDonald
Lioness Martial Arts
NWMAF certified self-defense instructor
Member of ESD Global Incubator

From Mona's presentation for an ESD Global webinar organized by IMPACT Chicago Instructor Martha Thompson: "Three Reasons for Feminists to Advocate for Empowerment Self-Defense." Mona addressed Reason #1: ESD Works to Stop Sexual Violence. Thank you to producer Yudit Sidikman. Look for an ESD-related blog the last Monday of each month.

Monday, October 23, 2017

No and Yes

September 2017 Core Program Graduate
Making myself small
Looking away
Telling you my name
Holding back
Walking scared

Setting boundaries
Taking up space
Supporting each other
Holding the line

Monday, October 16, 2017

IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor Molly Norris Retires

Molly, IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor 2012-2017

we all move forward when
we recognize how resilient
and striking the women
around us are 
-rupi kaur

IMPACT changes us. That’s why we are here, that’s why we stay, and that’s why we come back to give back. When I first took the Core Program in 2009 (upon the suggestion of suited instructor Nat Wilson), I had no idea what I was opening inside of myself. I called him after the first weekend (fully adrenalized and hypervigilant, I might add), and told him “I had no idea THIS is what you do.” It takes a unique collection of skills to teach with IMPACT and I had no idea at the time that my unique collection would fit.

Life has taken a hard left for me since 2009. I became an instructor in 2012, got married, bought a house, sold a house, earned a doctorate, gave birth to a future IMPACT grad; through it all, IMPACT has been a touchpoint. Something to rely upon. Something that gave me the courage and strength to make all of those difficult and necessary changes. Somewhere I knew that no matter what, we were doing good.

It is ironic that IMPACT has prepared me so well for the next hardest step: leaving IMPACT. At this point in time, I have had to make the choice to put a few of the spinning plates away and focus on new endeavors as a clinical audiologist (Side note: wouldn’t have become a Doctor of Audiology without IMPACT either).

This post is to say thank you to the IMPACT community. You have been my home for the last 8 years in one way or another, and I wouldn’t be who I am without you.
Passing it on…

Molly Norris
IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor 2012-2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

IMPACT, Diva Remix

At the end of the September Core Program, one participant shared her IMPACT, Diva Remix of artists: Aretha Franklin, Cardi B, No Doubt, Beyonce, Tay Cellblock C, Demi Lovato, and Christina Aguilera.

Takes longer than Aretha’s spelling to find out what it means to me
R E S P E C T , that you wouldn’t from go is Bananas
Hey, you’re mistaken, you can’t fuck with me,
I talk hard like Cardi B. No Doubt
I’ll hit harder too, don’t cross my drawn line.
I walk with a power of the Queen Beyonce,
Hurt me, and you only hurt yourself. Dumbass don’t.
Now smarter, harder in the knick of time like Tay
Cellbock C tango, dance asshole I’m in formation.
Paybacks a bad bitch Demi says I’m baddest in the game
Far too nice of me to take it easy nuh uh, no way.
He had it coming, only his crossing my boundaries to blame.
Look what you made me do back at you, oh, dipshit it’s on you.
Christina preached I wouldn’t know what I could pull through
If it wasn’t for all you tried, capital T, tried to do.
No shouldv’e been enough, but we had to go another route.
Cuz you won’t pull a full stop I pulled a safe drop and you're out.
Until the days my muscles don’t need to remember
IMPACT, Thanks for making us fighters this September.