Tuesday, November 12, 2013

IMPACT Self-Defense for Women

You can take the IMPACT Core Program in a weekend.
This past weekend I spent Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday attending a weekend workshop on how to defend myself against an assailant, even though I don't live in a lot of fear about that. I've been taking public transportation in Chicago for 20 years and apparently I carry myself in a way that does not invite harassment. Still, the nightmare scenarios live in the back of my head that I might come home to a stranger hiding in a closet or wake up to find an intruder in my bed. Now that I live alone again, it didn't seem like a bad idea to take my second self-defense workshop in 27 years (the first time was in 1986 when I was in college).

My IMPACT self-defense for women workshop was damned impressive. The techniques they taught fit into two categories: 

1. Take a hard part of you (heel of hand, knee) and slam it into a soft part of him (nose, groin).

2. Leverage, which is used in basic wrestling. That's the basic wrestling that girls rarely learn.

Unlike other self-defense I've learned, IMPACT doesn't teach you how to break a guy's grip on you so you can run. IMPACT teaches you how to take a man down so he can't get back up. The techniques they teach can be used by any woman -- no matter her size -- against any man -- no matter his size. The idea is to incapacitate your attacker so you have time to safely walk away and call 911. 
It turns out that incapacitating a man isn't nearly as hard as we think it is. One of the most valuable lessons IMPACT teaches is that a big unarmed man against a small unarmed woman does not have the advantage. Girls are brainwashed to believe that boys are bigger, stronger and more powerful. As women, we grow up in fear of men for their size and muscle mass alone. We perpetuate the powerful myth that men are strong and can be dangerous, while women are weaker and more vulnerable. Because we believe that myth, 80% of assaults on women are done by a single man with no weapon at all.
Maybe it's more correct to say that the main weapon used in such cases is the man's penis, but guess what? Penises are actually very vulnerable and testicles even more so. Who knew? Well, probably a lot of women who might be reading this thinking, “Yeah, if I’m ever attacked I’ll go for the groin or the eyes. I already know that.” Fair enough. But what an IMPACT weekend gives you is the opportunity to actually practice – over and over again -- physically slamming your knee/hand/butt into another person so you get these moves in your body memory. You can’t get that kind of kinesthetic programming off a page or from a video. If a man grabs me from behind or I wake up to find him sitting on top of me, how do get my knee in the right place to slam it into his crotch? IMPACT has shown me exactly how. After the training and drilling I've been through, I have no doubt that I’ll be able to throw a man off of me if I ever find myself pinned. Sure you can research defensive moves on the Internet, but actually doing it in a workshop with an actual 250-pound male instructor gives you the confidence to know you can do it anywhere.
Besides in Chicago, IMPACT has chapters in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Washington DC and Oregon. This is good stuff and if you don't have $395 lying around for the protection of your life and peace of mind, IMPACT offers scholarships and payment plans. I'm doing a payment plan that allowed me to pay $100 to hold my spot, and after that I'm doing $50 a month. But you can also apply for a scholarship because they DO have money for that. They want everyone who wants it to have this information.
I don't believe taking this course has changed my life hugely in terms of my physical safety. Men don't mess with me. But IMPACT has given me the confidence to stop worrying when my office building empties out when I work late. If I'm attacked in an empty building where no one can hear me scream and I can't outrun an assailant, I now know how to take him down all by my 5-foot 2-inch self.


Sally said...

This is such a great program. I have taken various forms of self-defense, but you always have to stop short of actually striking the other person, and it feels so false. Years ago I went to an IMPACT graduation, and I was so moved to watch the women, one by one, take down their heavily padded "assailants." Some of the graduates identified themselves survivors of sexual assault, and they were so fierce and inspirational.

I hope you never have to use what you learned!

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you, Sally. I definitely hope I never have to use what I learned, but I do feel safer for having learned it.

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