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.