Self-Defense for Your Group

Thousand Waves offers personal safety programs for both staff and clients of social service and other nonprofit organizations, employees in the private sector, and teachers and students in educational institutions. Self-defense training from Thousand Waves goes well beyond physical skills suitable for emergency situations.  Our empowerment-based approach gives people tools to feel safe, strong, and respected at home, in the workplace, and at school.  Our trainings are unique in their equal emphasis on prevention of violence and dealing with physical violence when prevention doesn’t work – which means that what we teach is applicable to uncomfortable interpersonal, workplace, and campus situations as much as situations that might come up on the street. And all of our trainings are based in empowerment, so participants leave our workshops feeling great!


Benefits for social services staff

Many staff members experience high rates of burnout and compassion fatigue and chronically high stress. Self-defense training from Thousand Waves can help staff speak up for themselves when they need to, promoting healthy self-care habits that can contribute positively to staff resiliency. Moreover, greater confidence in the ability to realistically assess threats paired with the ability to respond effectively can help reduce stress levels. Providing self-defense training for staff also sends a strong message that their agency takes safety seriously, which can build trust and increase organizational resiliency.

Benefits for social services clients

Social service agencies often serve clients who are at elevated risk of violence, and many of them will have endured significant trauma in the past. Thousand Waves’ self-defense instructors have training in trauma and resiliency, and our empowerment-based framework is trauma-informed. When clients discover that they have the inner resources to protect themselves from both physical and emotional violence, the effects can be transformative.

Benefits for the corporate workplace

Providing fun and engaging workplace programming is a big part of employee retention.  At the same time, businesses have a mandate to provide training to help staff deal with issues of sexual harassment and respectful communication with colleagues. Why not hire us to provide a training that will check both boxes?  The verbal assertiveness skills we teach can help staff identify and navigate tense situations and respond pro-actively to difficult situations, leading to increased worker satisfaction and higher productivity.  Plus, self-defense training will help your employees feel safer and more confident in their everyday lives.  A self-defense workshop is a great choice for a teambuilding activity, and a great way to show employees you care.

Benefits for students (Higher Education)

College-age young adults – especially college-age women – are at a high risk for sexual assault. Our programming helps young adults realistically assess and mitigate risks in an empowering framework so they can make choices that maximize their safety while exploring all that the college experience has to offer.

Benefits for students (K-12)

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, children and teens are generally at higher risk of violence than adults.  Self-defense trainings give students the skills and confidence to deal with a variety of situations from bullying to assault  – all presented in a safe, fun, and empowering format that is tailored to the age of the students.

Benefits for Girl Scouts

Like the Girl Scouts, Thousand Waves supports girls in their efforts to be kind, strong, respectful, and wise in all areas of their lives, and to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Our workshops can be used to satisfy the four content areas of the “Be Tough” (B.T.U.F) patch, a Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council initiative. We offer workshops for scouts from Brownies to Ambassadors.



Scheduling a Program

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

Program Options

Program Length

Single-session workshops are between 1 and 3 hours.  Multi-session courses can be up to 12 hours or more.  Longer programs and programs presented in series format have the highest impact over the long term.

Program Content

Our trainings are based on a comprehensive approach to personal safety that helps people detect problematic behavior before it escalates to physical violence, and teaches people to respond assertively to early warning signs. If prevention efforts are unsuccessful, we also teach physical defensive techniques based in martial arts that have been simplified enough to be easy to learn. We call our model the Five Fingers of Self-Defense: Think Yell Run Fight Tell.

All of our single-session trainings spend about one-third of the time discussing and practicing verbal defenses (“Yell”), one-third  practicing physical defenses (“Fight”), and the remaining time discussing and practicing mental strategies, positioning strategies, and strategies for healing in the aftermath of violence.


When we do multiple sessions, the first session is an introduction of our model and an introduction to basic strikes and kicks. Subsequent sessions are developed in collaboration with the client to ensure that they are relevant to the group we’re training. Typically, about half of each session will be a physical activity module, and about half will be a topic module. Topic modules include a mix of discussion, videos, and verbal exercises, and topics include dealing with harrassment, healthy relationships, assertiveness at home and in the workplace, de-escalation techniques, and bystander intervention. Our physical activity modules include basic strikes and kicks (in the air and against target pads), strategic positioning, releases from grabs, fighting from the ground, and responses to an armed attacker.


Self-Defense for Groups 2


Pricing varies based on length of program, location, and number of students. Thousand Waves has a strong commitment to affordability and organizational scholarships are available. Seminars can be held at your facility or at our site. Travel and mileage rates apply outside of Chicago.

Who We Serve

We offer programs for

  • Customer service staff
  • Social workers and other home visitors
  • Staff working in high-conflict settings
  • Adults, teens, or kids (ages 8 and up)
  • All-gender or gender-specific
  • People with mobility or sensory challenges

Customized programs

Programs can be tailored to emphasize verbal or physical skills. Examples of customized programs include de-escalation trainings for staff of hospital Emergency Departments and social service agencies, and verbal assertiveness and boundary-setting trainings for public library staff.

Scheduling a Program

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