Making Work Play: Reflections on ESD and Fun

"When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” ~ Lao Tsu ​​It’s a scene we see over and over again in our empowerment self-defense classes: A group of women who’ve just met sit in a circle on the floor. Nervous. Quiet. Shoulders hunched. And then, within minutes, the women are told pair up. After a few warm-up exercises designed to explore and discover personal boundaries, they’re hitting each other (or at least pretending to). But, they’re also laughing. By the end of the first class session, in a scene reminiscent of young children walking back to class after a recess full of running, chasing, and good-natured roughhousing, the women

The Magical Healing Powers of ESD

You already know there's something magical about empowerment self-defense (ESD) that goes way beyond the rush of kicking and yelling. While those are wonderful skills, they’re already available in most traditional martial arts classes. ESD training offers something regular self-defense classes just can’t touch: a safe, repeatable process for helping people heal from their traumatic memories. That “certain something” process involves a complex choreography between students and staff. It involves techniques for building rapport, for inducing adrenaline flow, and for manipulating the biochemical chain reactions that cause a person’s brain to encode memories—and the belief systems that are built

Self-Defense as Social Justice -- Spotlight on Jay O'Shea

We’ve talked before about the “power of one,” and how one woman can have an impact on one community that can then go on to impact the entire world. Janet (Jay) O’Shea, a professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, an accomplished martial artist, and ESD Global Camp 2017 participant, is a perfect example of that power. O’Shea’s journey into the world of empowerment self-defense began in 2015, when a debate on campus erupted in which self-defense was portrayed as victim blaming. In response, O’Shea, who had participated in empowerment self-defense training through NWMAF, organized a panel of self-defense experts including Lisa Gaeta, director of the Southern California branch of IMPACT

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