Through this class I gained more than just a belief in my ability to protect myself and the knowledge and capability to do it. I regained the self confidence and sense of freedom I lost that beautiful Southern California evening 20+ years ago - I got back the ability to joyfully, freely and enthusiastically experience the fun and adventure the world has to offer. In short, I got back my life.
It was a beautiful Southern California evening in a quiet residential neighborhood. I was in my mid-20's, the prime of my life. I was an avid tennis player, cyclist and lifelong athlete. I knew my strength and the speed of my reflexes. Even though I considered myself fairly vigilant about my personal safety, the thing farthest from my mind that night was that someone would actually try to kill me. Unfortunately my awareness wasn't keen enough to spot the signs of potential trouble and my athletic prowess wasn't enough to prevent the assault. My survival that night was largely due to luck. Alarmed by the commotion, local residents came out to investigate. Their intervention is what drove my assailants away. While my assailants didn't get anything of monetary value, when it was all over I found that my life as I knew it was gone. From that night on the entire world felt like a very dangerous place. Everyone I encountered, especially those I didn't know, became potential assailants and my world began to shrink. I became afraid to go anywhere I didn't know well and any crowded place was a hotbed of potential assailants. Yet anytime I was alone I felt was leaving myself open for injury or worse.
Flash forward to now, 5 months after graduating from Impact's Basics class. It was 5am and I was on my way to the gym. The only other person out was across the street, going in the opposite direction. The first thing I noticed was that he didn't seem to be walking with much purpose which seemed odd for 5am. The second thing I noticed was that when he saw me his body language changed in a few subtle ways. That change demanded I stay alert and keep an eye on him. When I looked forward to step up onto a curb I heard the sound of footsteps coming in my direction. As I glanced over my shoulder I saw a figure silently running up behind me. When I whipped around to face him he was within 8 feet of me. In an instant my body was in the ready posture we learned in class - hands up, knees bent, feet spread and staggered, my breath coming steadily and deeply. I looked him dead in the eye, made note of what features I could and demanded he stop right there and tell me what he wanted. He tried to get me to relax by apologizing and saying he thought he knew me. I told him confidently, "You don't know me." He continued to come forward, more cautiously now. My hands went higher with one hand recoiled slightly ready to strike, my crouch got a little lower and my weight settled into my hips as I took root to stand my ground. Again, I demanded to know what he wanted. I was clearly prepared to defend myself. Noticing all of this he thought better of continuing his approach, began backing up and hurried away.
I credit the training I received in the Basics class for producing a different outcome this time:
- My awareness of my surroundings was different. I didn't just notice him, I was alert for anything that didn't "feel" right.
- I respected my intuition, trusted my training and let them guide my actions and reactions. There was no hesitation or doubt about what I needed to do - everything I said and did was automatic and felt completely natural.
- My mind was focused like a laser beam, my aim being to end the interaction quickly and decisively. Nothing about my thought process or body language changed until I was certain he understood I was not going to let him get any closer, that this encounter was over, and he had left the scene.
- I was immediately aware of my options for defense or flight and acutely aware of when the element of surprise was on my side and became a tool to help protect me.
- I was more prepared. The scenarios we practiced in class and the teaching techniques the program uses were very accurate in recreating the physical, mental and emotional states I experienced in the moment. The only difference was that on the street I had twice as much adrenaline as in class!
Prior to that morning one of my biggest fears was that if I were attacked again I would be overwhelmed by residual fear from the first assault and become a quivering, helpless mass of jelly. And if that had happened, regardless of whether I sustained injuries or not, I would probably never willingly leave my home again. My fear was that great. Through this class I gained more than just a belief in my ability to protect myself and the knowledge and capability to do it. I regained the self confidence and sense of freedom I lost that beautiful Southern California evening 20+ years ago - I got back the ability to joyfully, freely and enthusiastically experience the fun and adventure the world has to offer. In short, I got back my life.