classes and workshops

Final Two Self-Defense Programs of 2017 are coming up!

10.15.17 by Amy Jones

There are two self-defense programs still on the calendar for 2017. This will be your last chance to take self-defense before the new year, and ring in 2018 with strategies to feel safer, stronger, and more respected. Our last workshop is Saturday, October 28th, from 1:30 – 4:30. It’s open to people of all genders ages 15 and up. You can register online, and choose your own price between $30 and $50, or choose to waive the fee.

In November, we have a 12-hour course over two weekends — November 11 & 12 and 18 & 19. This is open to people of all genders ages 12 and up. Each session runs from 1:30 – 4:30. Full price is $200, with a student rate of $150. You can also sign yourself and a friend up for $175 each (a total of $350, you pay for both at once). If finances are a barrier, contact us at to request a scholarship.  Online registration is open now.

Call for Applicants: Safe, Strong & Respected Program

09.21.17 by Amy Jones

Thousand Waves is soliciting partner organizations to work with us to provide 12-hour trainings to their constituents (who can be students, staff, or clients).  Scheduled to launch in 2018, this program will be modeled on the 12-hour trainings we’ve been doing here at our Center for years, but will have a specific population focus of young women and/or young members of the LGBTQ community.

We are also soliciting program evaluators for the same project.  The RFP is here.

The program overview and application is here.

Please distribute far and wide!  We will continue taking applications until we reach program capacity or through the end of 2017.

“I’m 6’6″ and 300 pounds. Why do I need self-defense?” A male student’s perspective

07.28.17 by Thomas Cosgrove

Tom Cosgrove is a training member at Thousand Waves

I have been studying karate at TW for about a year and a half now and I was promoted to advanced yellow belt in mid-May. Shortly after I advanced, Amy Jones approached me and reminded me that the 12-hour self-defense course is a requirement for my next step, advancement to green belt. She also reminded me that the next self-defense class just so happened to be that very weekend and would not be offered again until mid-October. I had seen the self-defense courses being offered before and I had always thought, ”What do I need that for? I’m 6’6” and weigh 300 pounds. I was a Chicago police officer. I played football and wrestled in both high school and college. “What am I going to learn there?” But, I needed the class to advance. I signed up.

First, a little background. Many people I talk to are surprised to find out that when I was growing up, I was a victim of bullying. My physical appearance was that of a boy two or three years older than I but my maturity and intelligence were age appropriate. To the older kids, I appeared about their age but when they found I was much more immature, the bullying began. Any complaints to an authority figure were met with something along the lines of “You’re big, you can take it.” “Who would pick on you?” Times were different then but not so much. These are phrases I still hear today and I need to be very careful when I stand up for myself because it is automatically assumed that I am the aggressor.

Eventually, as I grew older and began playing sports I learned what my body could do, the bullying stopped. It didn’t stop immediately — there were some times when I had to defend myself physically, and my newfound abilities served me well in those times.  All through high school, when I would see bullying, whoever the victim, I would intervene. I liked the feeling of helping someone who couldn’t help themselves. It’s probably why I became a police officer and certainly why I became a lawyer. I wish I had someone who would’ve helped me. As I had more and more encounters, I learned that I did not need to engage in a physical altercation to intervene. My appearance, coupled with some strong words of deterrence was enough. This was very effective and has become my strategy for self-defense.

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Self-Defense and Bystander Intervention Workshops at Thousand Waves

04.25.17 by Amy Jones

Starting In December of 2016, Thousand Waves has been offering free 3-hour community workshops entitled “Self-Defense and Bystander Intervention.”  To date, we’ve offered three workshops, and more than 75 people have participated.  We’re excited to announce two more of these workshops, on Sunday, July 9, and Saturday, October 7.  Both workshops are from 1:30 – 4:30 PM, and are open to people of all genders ages 15 and up.  Registration is open now!

The workshop teaches the same basic skills as our standard Five Fingers of Self-Defense workshops, but with expanded content that specifically addresses intervening when someone else is the target of harassment or violence.  Alongside role play practice using verbal assertiveness to interrupt harassment and prevent physical violence, workshop participants practice delivering physical strikes designed to be effective against larger, stronger assailants.  The techniques use “natural weapons” – the heels of the palm and the foot, the side of the fist – that are easy to learn and naturally strong; students are trained to target vulnerable areas on an assailant’s body.  “Taking out the knee creates mechanical compliance,” says Becky Kidd, by way of example.  “If you injure the knee, they’re not running after you.  They can’t.”  Becky has been the instructor or co-instructor for all 3 workshops.

In cases of identity-based harassment, students are coached to first consider the environment and their own safety, and to consider various options for intervening –by calling authorities, allying with the intended target, or directly confronting the attacker.

Thousand Waves was moved to offer this workshop, and to offer it for free, because of an increase in inquiries following the November 9th election.  “People are concerned,” says staff instructor Erin Epperson, Ph.D.  “They want to know what to do if they see someone being targeted for harassment.”  Erin cites a Southern Poverty Law Center report of more than 400 incidents of hate-based harassment in the weeks following the election.

Welcome to TYRFT

01.08.16 by Amy Jones

Amy-JonesWelcome to TYRFT: The Self-Defense newsletter from Thousand Waves! I hope you’ll enjoy our new look and new title. TYRFT stands for Think Yell Run Fight Tell (The Five Fingers of Self-Defense), and even though it may be a little challenging to say (I go with “teerft,” but you can say it however you like), I think it’s a much better title for the newsletter than “VP News”. For one thing, a lot of the content isn’t “news,” exactly, so much as opinions, book reviews, and other (hopefully) thought-provoking articles on the subject of self-defense and violence prevention. Let me know what you think!

Ironically, our first edition of TYRFT is mostly news; specifically, I’m excited to share with you our 2016 onsite self-defense schedule, and to introduce you to some new and returning Community Partners and Beneficiaries. If it’s been awhile since your last self-defense training with us, maybe it’s time to take a refresher. If you’ve taken our intensive course in the past (whether it was over 4 weeks, two Saturdays, or a single weekend) and want to take it again, or just to take a short workshop, contact me and you can enroll for a reduced rate. Or if you’ve never taken our long course, maybe this is the year! Registration for the entire year is open now.

Our 2016 Schedule

01.08.16 by Amy Jones

Without further ado, our 2016 schedule is below. Remember, registration is open for all of these trainings right now. Register today – and don’t forget the NEWS discount code for 15% off!

12 Hour Intensive Weekend Courses

January 15-17
Open to: All Genders, ages 12+
Full Price: $200
Bring-a-friend: $175
Students: $150
Register now

April 1-3
Open to: Women and Teen Girls ages 12+
Early Bird Registration Deadline: March 6
Full Price: $200
Bring-a-friend: $175
Students: $150
Register now

June 10-12
New! Young Thousand Waves Teens Only
Open to: Thousand Waves Teens Ages 12-14
Full Price: $150
Register now

July 15-17
New! Just for Older Teens and Young Adults
Open to: Young adults and older teens of all genders, ages 15-26
Early Bird Registration Deadline: June 17
Full Price: $200
Bring-a-friend: $175
Students: $150
Register now

August 5-7
New! Older Teens Only
Open to: Older Teens ages 15-19 of all Genders
Full Price: $150
Register now

October 7-9
Open to: All genders ages 15+
Early Bird Registration Deadline: September 9
Full Price: $200
Bring-a-friend: $175
Students: $150
Register now

Low Cost, High-Impact 90-Minute Workshops
All of our workshops are Saturdays from 1:30 – 3:00 PM. Open to adults and teens 15+ unless otherwise specified. Workshops are offered on a pay-what-you-wish basis between $15 and $25. Click on the date to register for a workshop.

January 30
March 12
June 18: Especially for members of the LGBTQ community
July 9
August 20: Especially for teens ages 12-16
September 10: Especially for Kids ages 8-11
November 12

Our Week at McAuley

04.01.14 by Amy Jones

Photo: McAuley students practice their defender’s stance.

On the last weekend of February in 2014, self-defense instructors from Thousand Waves returned to Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School at 99th and Pulaski to repeat our week of self-defense classes for all of the P.E. and CPR classes. Mother McAuley is the largest Catholic girls’ school in the entire country. We were back after our inaugural self-defense week last fall. Then we taught around 240 girls, this time around the total was even higher – more than 280!

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