Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Impact Bay Area different from other forms of self-defense?

A:

Impact style self-defense was originally designed for women. It was created after lengthy research into how women are actually attacked and how they can use their unique strengths against an assailant's weaknesses. As our class offerings have grown, we've continued to do thorough research in order to provide the most real-to-life training scenarios for our students. Today we are prepared to teach students of all ages and genders how to defend themselves quickly and effectively against an attacker who may be bigger and stronger than them.

Our unique training differs from other self-defense style trainings in a number of ways:

  1. We teach full-force self-defense.
    By training students to fight full-force against padded mock attackers, in an adrenalized state, we engrain our techniques into your 'muscle memory'. This means that your body will remember - and respond appropriately - even when the mind has forgotten or "freezes" during an attack.
  2. We teach using realistic scenarios.
    Our instructors are trained to use real-life scenarios of violence and potential violence by playing the role of perpetrators so that you are prepared to counter an actual assault.
  3. Training is tailored to each individual.
    While our techniques utilize the strengths in most students’ bodies, they can be learned by virtually anyone regardless of age or physical ability. Class size is limited to provide a maximum level of individual instruction and our instructors are trained to work with differing levels of training and natural ability.
  4. We understand the extremely emotional nature inherent in confronting the fear of violence.
    Our classes are taught in an extremely supportive environment by trauma-informed instructors. We help you develop your inner strength and work through your fears, as well as honing your physical abilities.
  5. Impact is self-defense for the mind, body and voice.
    Impact strengthens a student's natural abilities by teaching them how to use their intuition, body and voice to defend themselves.
  6. Impact is for everyone!
    We teach all ages and genders and everyone from couch potatoes to black belts will find our training useful and accessible. Most of the people who take our classes don’t consider themselves “athletic”, but some of our students bring sports, martial arts, or other physical experiences to the class.  Each student is unique, and our program is tailored for the students in each class.

For more about how Impact self-defense is different from martial arts, check out this comparison chart by the National Women's Martial Arts Federation.

Click here to sign up or learn more about our classes!

Where are you located?

A:

In order to serve the entire Bay Area, we hold classes in various studios in the Bay Area. Our instructors can also come to you and teach private group classes at your office or local community center.

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What ages can attend Impact Classes?

A:

We offer classes for all ages from Kids to Teens to Adults. We also offer specialized classes for Young Adults going off to college and the LGBTQ community.

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What if I am… not in shape, or feel too small or weak, or feel to big or fat?

A:

People with all levels of physical ability can (and do) take Impact classes and benefit from our curriculum. Our classes are intentionally kept small so that instructors can tailor the basic physical, emotional and verbal techniques to fit each student and help you learn tools and techniques that work for your size, physical ability and individual circumstances.

We also teach people with different levels of regular physical activity - couch potatoes to black-belts and everyone in-between will find our training useful and accessible. Most of the people who take our classes don't consider themselves "athletic," but some of our students bring martial arts, sports or other physical experiences to the class. Each student is unique, and our program is tailored to teach you how to maximize your body's natural strengths to fight off an attacker who is larger (or smaller) than yourself.

Click here to sign up or learn more about our classes!

What if I have a disability?

A:

If you have any questions or specific accommodations you need in order to take an Impact class, please contact Katie Balk, Operations Coordinator, at Katie@ImpactBayArea.org or (510) 208-0474. We would be happy to talk with you about your needs and concerns, because we believe everyone who wants to take an Impact class CAN. We'll help you make it happen in a way that works for you.

At this time, we offer short trainings specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities. In the near future, we hope to expand our offerings to tailor the techniques for people with various disabilities. However, we are able to accommodate some physical disabilities in our standard classes, so please reach out to Katie to start the conversation.

What if I am injured?

A:

If you're injured temporarily (such as a broken ankle, knee surgery, etc), it might be a good idea to postpone your class (contact info@impactbayarea.org regarding changing your scheduled class due to injury).

If you have a long-standing injury, like a "bad knee" or an old football injury, we can teach you how to fight in ways that protect your existing injury. During the class, we use duct tape to indicate injured area(s), and the instructors review before each practice fight which body parts are injured and whether the student is "using" or "not using" the injured part, so the padded assailant will not grab your injured knee. You will learn strategies to protect yourself despite having a long-term injury.

To speak with someone about your injury and plan the right approach for you, contact our Operations Coordinator, Katie Balk, at Katie@impactbayarea.org or (510) 208-0474.

Can I take the class with no previous self-defense or martial arts experience?

A:

Absolutely! Impact classes are not martial arts classes and do not require any martial arts experience. We teach people of all different levels of regular activity. Everyone from couch potatoes to black belts will find our training useful and accessible. Most of the people who take our classes don’t consider themselves “athletic”, but some of our students bring sports, martial arts, or other physical experiences to the class.  Each student is unique, and our program is tailored for the students in each class.

What if I can’t afford it?

A:

Safety is a right, not a privilege. If you want to take an Impact class, we will help you make it happen.

The first step is to fill out the scholarship application. Then we'll work out a plan together, which can involve full or partial scholarships, no-interest payment plans, and volunteering in exchange for attending a class. Money (or lack of money) should not keep you from taking an Impact class. We are happy to work with you to figure out a plan that works for you.

Please contact us at info@impactbayarea.org or (510) 208-0474 if you have questions. We would be happy to talk with you about your needs and concerns, because we believe everyone who wants to take an Impact class CAN. We'll help you make it happen in a way that works for you.

What if I am afraid or feel anxious about taking an Impact Class?

A:

If you feel nervous or a little anxious about taking one of our classes, you are perfectly normal! All of our students are at least a little bit afraid when they show up for class the first day. Many of us are terrified. That's OK. We are dealing with scary stuff, and it's normal to be scared. You'll be in good company, and, the best part is, our training will teach you how to fight through your fears to find your strength.

In our classes we teach boundary setting and believe in respecting the boundaries our students set. No one will ever pressure you to do something you don't want to do in an IMPACT class.

Click here to sign up or learn more about our classes!

What if I am a violence or abuse survivor?

A:

Many of our students are survivors of violence and abuse. We provide a supportive environment to learn new skills and coping mechanisms for boundary-setting and personal safety that many survivors find very useful in their day-to-day lives. Landing full-force blows and realizing that you CAN defend yourself (and that you are worth defending) can be cathartic. During Basics, you have the opportunity to design a "custom fight" with the padded assailant-instructor, who will play the role of anyone you choose, and say or do what ever you choose. Some survivors choose to reenact a scene from their past - and end it differently.

Impact training is not therapy, but many survivors tell us that they feel a sense of healing or progress toward resolving painful past experiences as a result of taking Basics. Our trainings are intense, and the content itself or the simulated fights may trigger memories of previous abuse. We encourage you to consider seeking the support of a therapist before and/or after taking our class if you are violence or abuse survivor.

We welcome you to share as much or as little with our instructors about your history; if you share what happened, they can help you tailor your experience in the class to best meet your needs. For example, you can tell the instructors, "my abuser said this to me, so use that during the fights" or "my abuser said this to me, so DON'T say anything like that during the fights." Our instructor team is here to make your class positive, healing and empowering for you.

We have a lot of experience teaching self-defense to survivors of abuse and violence. Because many of our students are survivors who choose to share candidly about their experiences, you may connect with other survivors in your class. During the class, you can share anything (or nothing) about your past experiences with your classmates.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our Executive Director, Lisa Scheff, at Lisa@ImpactBayArea.org or (510) 208-0474. We would be happy to talk with you about your needs, because we believe everyone who wants to take an Impact class CAN. We'll help you make it happen in a way that works for you.

Do you offer classes for men?

A:

We anticipate offering Men's Basics in 2016, however we do not currently offer Men's Basics classes.  We feel strongly that our classes should offer students appropriate skills for situations they are most like to face. Straight, cis-gendered men are likely to face violence in different ways and need different skills. Gay, bisexual, queer, and male-identified transgender students are welcome in our LGBTQ Basics. 

Do you offer classes for teen boys?

A:

We are currently do not have curriculum developed for classes for teen boys. This is something we hope to offer in the future.

What type of training is included in your Teen Class?

A:
Our teen classes are meant for girls ages 12-16, and the material is tailored to fit this age and be appropriate for the younger participants. In the program, we are teaching students to listen to their own needs and practice setting verbal boundaries; we also incorporate full-force self-defense work to help reinforce their rights to those boundaries and provide confidence. The teen program includes a discussion around cyber-safety and safety in group settings like parties.
We have further information in our One in Five video as well as a teen parent testimonial online that you can review.