Monday, October 19, 2020

IMPACT Chicago History Lives On

On October 15, 2020 Laura Berfield (pictured here), Archivist at Loyola University Women and Leadership Archives, accepted four crates of documents from IMPACT Chicago Lead Instructor and Admin Team Co-Leader Martha Thompson. Martha donated the IMPACT Chicago documents she has collected since she began working collaboratively to build and maintain the infrastructure to support IMPACT Chicago programming (not participants' personal information or instructors and staff personnel files). The documents provide insight into the founding and early development of IMPACT Chicago as well as the opportunities and challenges that the organization faced from 1987 to the early 2000s. The Women and Leadership Archives collects, preserves, and makes available records of women and women's organizations documenting women's lives, contributions, and activism and women's issues. IMPACT Chicago is proud to be part of the Women and Leadership Archive collection!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Kicking Down the Barriers: Self-Defense and Social Justice

Social injustice is not all in our heads. Our identities and our bodies are influenced by our placement in complex intersections of social privilege and oppression.  We learn to use and move our bodies in ways that reinforce these complex intersections.  Empowerment self-defense training offers an opportunity to interrupt perceptions and movements of our bodies that perpetuate patterns of inequality and injustice.  

In empowerment self-defense training, participants:

  • Develop confidence, calmness, and assertiveness; not aggression or submissiveness.
  • Practice setting boundaries and honoring the boundaries of others.
  • Discover the power of their bodies and the power of integrating body, mind, voice, and spirit.
  • Explode the myth that only extraordinary people and actions can prevent, redirect, or stop someone bigger or stronger.
  • Recognize the effectiveness of everyday skills, such as paying attention, making decisions, speaking up, and acting decisively.
  • Learn that physical self-defense tools are as close as their elbows, hands, knees, and feet.
  • Experience being responsible for themselves while also supporting, cheering on, and learning from others.

The potential impact of empowerment self-defense training goes beyond individual participants. Imagine the consequences if thousands of people in a community were not only able to defend themselves from violence, but had experienced an empowerment self-defense program where they practiced challenging norms of aggression and compliance, demystified images of who is powerful and deserving, and collectively imagined a world where all people live safely and with dignity. Those thousands could set thousands more in motion.

Martha Thompson
IMPACT Chicago

Based on “Kicking down the barriers: Self-defense and social change,” originally published in KIAI!, the newsletter of Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center, September 2001.