Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center will offer a free workshop entitled "Bystander Intervention and Self-Defense for Prevention of Identity-Based Violence" on Sunday, January 15th, from 1:30 until 4:30 PM at its Lakeview Center.
Thousand Waves has been offering empowerment-based self-defense instruction for over 30 years. They use a model called the "Five Fingers of Self-Defense: Think Yell Run Fight Tell" to structure their trainings. Thousand Waves' self-defense trainings are unique in their emphasis on teaching techniques to prevent physical violence, paired with physical resistance techniques.
Students practice using assertive speech and body language to present themselves as strong when interacting with strangers, acquaintances, and people they know well. "The same techniques of assertiveness that are effective self-defense are also effective when used on behalf of someone else," says founder Nancy Lanoue. "The techniques are simple, but not easy — especially for those who have been socialized to be more passive. But with practice, anyone can learn them."
In cases of identity-based harassment, students are coached to first consider the environment and their own safety, and to consider various options for intervening —by calling authorities, allying with the intended target, or directly confronting the attacker.
Alongside role play practice using verbal assertiveness to interrupt harassment and prevent physical violence, workshop participants will also practice delivering physical strikes designed to be effective against larger, stronger assailants. The techniques use what Thousand Waves calls "natural weapons" — the heels of the palm and the foot, the side of the fist — that are easy to learn and naturally strong; students are trained to target vulnerable areas on an assailant's body. "Taking out the knee creates mechanical compliance," says Becky Kidd, another self-defense instructor, by way of example. "If you injure the knee, they're not running after you. They can't."
Thousand Waves was moved to offer this workshop, and to offer it for free, because of an increase in inquiries following the November 9th election. "People are concerned," says Amy Jones, Violence Prevention and Self-Defense Program Manager. "They want to know what to do if they witness someone being targeted for harassment." Jones also cites a Southern Poverty Law Center report of more than 400 incidents of hate-based harassment in the weeks following the election ( www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/11/15/update-more-400-incidents-hateful-harassment-and-intimidation-election ). This is the second workshop emphasizing bystander intervention that Thousand Waves has offered since the election — the first, offered in December, was fully enrolled with a waitlist.
Thousand Waves has recently released its 2017 calendar of self-defense trainings ( thousandwaves.org/self-defense/individuals ). There are no more workshops with a Bystander Intervention focus currently scheduled. "We're taking it workshop by workshop," says Amy Jones. "If the January one is full with a waitlist again, we'll see about adding another one."