October 2017

IMPACT Chicago celebrates 30 years with Film Screening: Beauty Bites Beast

10.18.17 by Martha Thompson

Martha Thompson is a fifth-degree black belt training member at Thousand Waves. She is also a lead self-defense instructor at IMPACT Chicago. Martha has been teaching IMPACT since 1988. She is also an Instructor Trainer, Director Emeritus, and Instructor and Curriculum Coordinator. She is the IMPACT Chicago representative to the international IMPACT community.

2017 is the IMPACT Chicago Self-Defense 30-year anniversary. Earlier this year, IMPACT celebrated the board, instructors, staff, students, and volunteers who have kept IMPACT going for 30 years. Now IMPACT is ready to launch the next 30 years of providing people with tools to prevent, minimize, and stop violence and to expand its participation in the empowerment self-defense movement to end violence and build a non-violent world in which all people can live safely and with dignity.

IMPACT Chicago is kicking off its next 30 years with filmmaker and self-defense advocate Ellen Snortland and a screening of her documentary film, Beauty Bites Beast: The Missing Conversation About Ending Violence. While bystander intervention, consent, and changing rape culture are very much part of the conversation about ending sexual violence (and deservedly so), what is missing in the conversation is the transformational experience of learning verbal, emotional, and physical empowerment self-defense. Ellen’s film (and book of the same name) makes the case for the importance of including empowerment self-defense in conversations about ending violence.

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is hosting the event and providing snacks and beverages. Vanille Patisserie is donating specialty macaroons and Goddess and Grocer is donating a Cookies, Bars, and Brownies Platter. Please RSVP to make sure you can quickly check through campus security and that we have a seat for you.

Beauty Bites Beast: The Missing Conversation about Ending Violence
Free Documentary Film Screening and Q & A with Filmmaker Ellen Snortland
The Neiman Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 37 S. Wabash, Chicago
October 24, 4-6:30 pm RSVP


Self-Defense in the News: Two Women Who Defended Themselves Against Harvey Weinstein

10.18.17 by Amy Jones

I’m always annoyed when people gain fame by behaving badly, and I really don’t want to spend much time on Harvey Weinstein at all. But there are two women who have come forward and told the world about both his detestable actions and their courageous defense against him. Those are the people I want to talk about.  Their names are Ambra Battilana Gutierrez and Katherine Kendall, and they deserve to be remembered and celebrated.

Before I get into their stories, I want to make a couple of points that are at the heart of the empowerment model of self-defense.  First of all, the fact that these two women were able to defend themselves against assault (or rather, further assault) in no way changes the truth that Weinstein’s behavior was his choice and that he is solely responsible for his actions.  Nor does it imply that what they did was ‘right’ and what other women who were targeted and victimized by Weinstein did was ‘wrong.’  When someone like Weinstein makes the choice to commit an assault against a woman, she does what she can in that moment to protect herself.  Right and wrong are meaingless concepts in this context, and imply a level of responsibility that just doesn’t exist.  It’s also a fallacy to assume that if other women had done what Ms. Gutierrez or Ms. Kendall did, they would have experienced the same results.  Every situation is different, and there isn’t a rulebook for these kinds of encounters.

read more >

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.

Self-Defense is Not About Eliminating Risk

09.15.17 by Amy Jones

When we talk about our approach to self-defense, one of the ways we explain it is to say that we don’t give people a bunch of rules to follow. Today I’m going to unpack that idea a little bit.

First of all, if I were to give you a rule, the chances of it being applicable to your life are pretty small. For example, one of the “rules” that well-meaning people will often tell you is to be careful getting into your car – make sure there’s nobody lurking in the back seat, or under the car.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t currently own a car. So that’s a rule that’s useless to me. read more >