Monday, January 7, 2019

Tracy Koppel: Even Though Adrenaline is Rushing Through You, You Are Still Thinking

Tracy Koppel, author of both young adult novels and adult novels, and mother of two teens, took the IMPACT Core Program in 1991 at the University of Chicago. She returned 23 years later to take Defense Against an Armed Rapist and plans to take Defense Against Multiple Assailants within the next couple of years. Her daughter completed IMPACT for Girls five years ago, the Core Program two years ago, and Defense Against an Armed Rapist in November 2018. Instructor Martha Thompson who was part of the Instructor Team for Tracy’s Core Program 27 years ago, met up with Tracy to chat about IMPACT.

What led you to taking that first IMPACT class?
I was a suburban girl living in the city and had concerns about my safety.  I wanted to be able to fight back. I heard about personal security classes but also I heard that most of them weren’t effective. When I heard that IMPACT was going to be offered at the University of Chicago, I read about it and was impressed.

What do you recall taking from that experience?
After IMPACT, I felt much better prepared. I was more comfortable going to unfamiliar places and walking alone at night. My husband came to the graduation and was thrilled when he saw me take down a mugger faster than anyone else in the class.

I have never consciously used IMPACT, but one time I was walking home alone at night and got a feeling that I was being watched. I turned and saw a guy walking behind me. I walked faster, and turned to look again and saw that he was closer to me. A university bus was up ahead and I boarded it even though I didn’t know exactly where it was going. The guy watched the bus take me away. I didn’t panic, I thought clearly, and I made a decision about what to do to keep myself safe. What I learned from that experience was even though my adrenaline was rushing through me, I was still thinking.

You took an advanced course 4 years ago—what led you to taking that course and what did you get from it?
It had been 23 years since I had done the Core Program and I thought it was time to refresh my skills. Taking that class boosted my confidence in my own preparedness. Even after 20+ years, I knew what to do.  It also changed how I watch television. I now get very annoyed when characters don’t use the skills I have to deal with weapons like I’ve been taught.  I also get very annoyed when the good guys get up close to a bad guy, because I know how the bad guy could take control of the situation.  Still, I love being able to point out things that Hollywood gets wrong.

Your daughter has taken several IMPACT courses. What does it mean to you that she has had this experience?
My daughter has taken three classes. It is huge for me as a mom, knowing that when she is on her own—whether walking around by herself or on a date—she can take care of herself.

What is something you can say to others about IMPACT?
While taking the class, even though you know that the scenarios are, in a sense, a “game,” they feel very real. The adrenaline gets going like it is real. That means that by the end of a Core class, you have defended yourself from attack many times. We know this kind of training works. I could still take down a mugger after 23 years without doing anything to reinforce the training I took during CORE.

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