Self-Defense Program

Thousand Waves has been designing and implementing practical and effective self-defense programs since 1985. Participants learn mental, physical, and social skills that will help then move through the world with less fear and more confidence. We use the Five Fingers of Self-Defense (Think, Yell, Run, Fight, and Tell) to teach people how to accurately assess their risk and respond to violence before it escalates, while also teaching physical techniques to defend against direct physical and sexual assault. Classes are a mix of group discussion, role plays, and physical drills and activities. Our goal is to reduce both the prevalence and the harm of violence.

We offer programming to both individuals and groups.

For You

Individuals come to our Center on Belmont Avenue in Chicago to participate in either a single session introductory workshop or a 12-hour course. Our 12-hour courses are offered in several formats, and allow us to go in-depth on a variety of subjects. Our single session workshops are on weekend afternoons, and give a brief overview of self-defense.


12-Hour Self-Defense Courses


Single Session Self-Defense Workshops


For Your Group

Groups may be staff or clients of a nonprofit social service agency, staff at a company (from delivery drivers to executives), or students. We can either travel to a venue in the greater Chicago area, or host a training at our Center. Pricing depends on a number of factors, and organizational scholarships are available. Contact Amy Jones to schedule.


To arrange a program for your organization
or for more information, contact

Amy L. E. Jones, LSW – Violence Prevention and
Self-Defense Program Manager

Email: /
Phone: 773-472-7663

Empowerment Framework

Self-defense at Thousand Waves is taught from an empowerment framework. This means that we believe that individuals do the very best they can in all situations to remain safe, and that we are committed to providing accurate information and the skills people need in order to make the best decisions for their lives and to enhance their safety in a variety of situations. We will never blame the victim of an attack for that attack, nor will we give the false sense of security of claiming that a particular technique that we teach will work in all situations. We use this model not only because it feels intuitively like the right thing to do, but because there is strong evidence that this model works – not only as a tool to prevent violence, but as a tool to help people live with less anxiety and depression, and more confidence and joy.