I took Basics in 1998, when I was 19 years old. A few years later, I used my Impact skills to defend myself against a man armed with a knife and a dog on an isolated back-country trailhead in Hawaii.
Impact gave me a scholarship for Basics and it literally saved my life. I've volunteered, donated, assisted and taken several other classes since then. I joined the Board of Directors in 2009 and became Board Chair in April of this year. I'm honored to give back to Impact, an organization and a community that has given me so much.
Almost a decade after I took my first Basics class, I attended a retreat-style Basics class as a "refresher," right before I traveled solo to Bosnia-Hercegovina. It was my first time traveling alone outside the United States. I was nervous about what might happen if I were threatened or attacked. My worst fear was that I would be a target as a petite American female traveler, obviously carrying all my possessions on my back. When I thought about it intellectually, I didn't know what I would do if it happened in real life--even though I'd already defended myself once before. So the worry grew...
During the class, I practiced what I would do if I were attacked with my full pack on, filled with my belongings, my passport and all my money. The first time I practiced a fight with my pack on, I stopped THINKING and WORRYING about what to do. My body showed me exactly what to do: drop the bag and fight!
Stuff is replaceable; my life is not. The refresher showed my mind what my body already knew.
Practicing full-force, realistic fights with a suited instructor is essential to develop specific physical skills in an adrenalized state, so if we are ever threatened, Impact grads don't have to THINK. Our bodies instinctively know how to react, like I did when I found myself alone facing a man, a knife and a dog.
I put my hands up in "stop signs" and got into my "ready stance." I yelled "Stop! Get in the truck!" over and over, with increasing volume and conviction. My face and body were fierce - the tables turned and now he was afraid of me. After fumbling with the knife, he slunk back to the truck and slid behind the wheel. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Then he hopped back out of the truck, sizing me up with his beady eyes and caressing the knife holster on his belt.
A voice came from way down deep, and I heard myself yell: "GO AWAY! GET IN THE TRUCK NOW -- OR I WILL KILL YOU!"
He ran to the truck and drove off in a hurry, leaving me in a cloud of dust. In that moment, I looked around to assess any remaining danger, stomped my foot, yelled "NO!" at the dissipating dust. Then I looked for the line - that's what we call the fellow students in our Impact classes who form a line of support during each practice fight. I swear they were cheering me on the whole time, calling out the next move, reminding me to coil my power, yelling "NO!" along with me. I heard my instructor's voice in my ear coaching me through the fight. But looking around, I saw I'd triumphed over this terrifying situation and performed a reversal all by myself.
I didn't strike a single blow. I didn't have to hit him (or kick him in the head), but he knew - and I knew - I would have done whatever it took to protect myself. That commitment carried through my voice and my stance. Every drop of adrenaline in my system was turned on to back it up.
Impact Bay Area teaches full-force self-defense, personal safety and empowerment so that people like me can protect ourselves from violence and live our lives knowing that we can and will defend ourselves. Our mission is to reduce violence by helping to empower and train people to respond effectively if threatened verbally, physically, or sexually. We're a 501c3 nonprofit and we reserve at least 25% of the spots in our classes for people who can't afford it (full & partial scholarships).
If my story inspired you, I hope you'll contribute, volunteer, share your own Impact story, and most importantly -- sign up for a class. If you've haven't taken Basics yet, there's no time like the present to save your life in the future. If it's been a while since you took Basics, consider signing up for Basics again as a "refresher" or sign up for an advanced class.