What Is Empowerment Self-Defense?
Not all self-defense programs are the same. Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) is a comprehensive approach to violence prevention and resistance education that emphasizes awareness and assertiveness skills in addition to verbal and physical strategies. ESD teaches recognition of threatening situation in the early stages with appropriate boundary-setting skills and strategies to stop an assault before it becomes physical.
ESD recognizes that the majority of assaults against women are perpetrated by people they know and trust (estimates range between 80-90%). Strategies and skills are designed to address these more common experiences in addition to addressing those assaults that are perpetrated by strangers. All of the strategies are easy to learn and highly effective in preventing assault or ending an assault that may already be in progress.
ESD classes are designed to empower women and build their confidence, thus reducing their vulnerability to assault and other threatening situations. Anyone can learn the skills of ESD, regardless of their physical abilities.
1. Length of Programs
Valuable self-defense tools can be taught in short or longer amounts of time. Programs can and should be at varying lengths to reach the broadest population of women and girls in recognition that women and girls have varying resources and responsibilities but all need access to high quality self-defense training.
2. Content of Programs
Regardless of length, programs should include the key components of self-defense training--varying in depth of content covered. Each program would include something about the framework, boundary setting, and concrete tools with more material covered, the longer the program. All self-defense tools and skills, in all aspects of the range, include physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social/ cultural components. a. Framework for understanding violence and self-defense, includes:
a. Culture of Violence
b. Boundary setting skills, includes:
c. Concrete tools, includes:
Frame use of physical tools within the ethic that "The greatest compassion (towards self and others) yields the least harm."
 We recommend that future applicants be required to submit detailed course outlines and handouts for a short self-defense program (1-3 hours) and a long program (8-24 hours). These outlines should include details about the content, making it clear how the instructor frames violence, what she means by boundary setting, and how she teaches physical movement. These outlines should be written in everyday language and avoid unexplained lingo. The outlines should clearly describe content differences between a short and long program.
Courtesy of Marie O'Brien (Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self Defense), Martha Thompson (IMPACT Chicago), and Nancy Lanoue (Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self Defense).