Myths & Misconceptions

Dispelling Myths and Refuting Misconceptions
There are many myths and misconceptions about IMPACT, self-defense in general, and full-force training specifically. We believe everyone has the right to a safe life and that our training is a path to that. To that end, we’ve developed these FEOs – Frequently Encountered Obstacles – to help clear that path. They should answer your questions. If you are a graduate who hears these FEOs from friends with whom you share about IMPACT, these should help you address their concerns. We’re always happy to add more FEOs to the list so please let us know if you have others!

“Why do you teach self-defense to men? Can’t they use it to assault women or to bully people?”

IMPACT teaches “defensive counter-attack” techniques, which means that you can’t really use the IMPACT techniques to beat someone up. You can punch, kick, use locks, etc., but that’s every-day knowledge. IMPACT techniques only work when someone is attacking YOU, you cannot use the techniques to attack.

Additionally, we have found that once people (men/boys) take the class, they have less of a tendency to get into fights. They tend to talk their way out of a fight. A lot of the time, boys who fight do so not just for the obvious ego issues, but because they don’t know how to communicate. Give them some skills and they will often choose negotiation over violence.

Also, when students see other students in class fight or use the verbal skills, they have a different respect and view of their classmates. The bond that occurs in this kind of adrenal training is undeniable.

This is a quote from a PE teacher from one of our high schools:
“I’ve seen boys change right before my eyes in class. Big boys thinking they are invincible, watching little guys kick ass gives them a new perspective. I also think the bonding has a greater effect than we can calculate. So, yes, I think with the right program we can help bullies not bully.”

“IMPACT Blames the Victim”

Absolutely not. We believe that a woman who goes through an attack of any kind did whatever she could do with the tools she had in that moment. Any assault is unequivocally NEVER the victim’s fault no matter what she did or didn’t say or do, where she was or what she was wearing. Given that our society teaches women that they are helpless and weak in dangerous situations, how is a woman supposed to suddenly know what to do to defend herself or even that it might be possible?

What we seek to do is expand the tools in every woman’s toolbox so that she can say “never again.” In a much lighter sense, blaming the victim is like blaming a student for not acing a calculus test when she’s only had geometry. To expand the metaphor, we try to get that calculus into as many minds as possible as prevention, and likewise to as many survivors as possible so they know they did the best they could with what they knew at the time and can stop blaming themselves. Many survivors say the worst part of an assault is the loss of control. IMPACT is proud to be the recommendation of many therapists and post-trauma counselors as the quickest and most positive way to regain that sense of control and empowerment.

“I’ve already taken a Self-Defense class (and it didn’t work)”

One of the biggest reasons women are not likely to come to us is that they took a male-taught self-defense course and got turned off or they left feeling falsely confident and don’t feel they need more training. If they’ve been attacked and their ‘training’ failed them, they are naturally skeptical. We have many competitors who leave students with a feeling of rah-rah empowerment but the truth is they’ve been sold a false bill of goods. Brain science says that when we’re adrenalized we lose access to fine motor movement and logic. Most other classes do not teach in the adrenaline state as we do. This means when you are attacked all the training you got from a competitor goes out the window. No wonder you may feel Self-Defense is useless!

Adrenaline-state scenarios are part of why our program is so successful and has been proven to work in the real world. Another is that all of our classes are female-led. Most martial arts is designed for the way a man’s body works and the way a man is attacked. Ours is women-centered Self-Defense. We will prove the difference to you in class.

“IMPACT is a bunch of women who hate men”

Absolutely not. We are, as our mission states, an organization of women and men working together to end the cycle of violence. In running our classes with a male and female teaching team we seek to model good inter-gender communication. For some students from abusive backgrounds, this can be the first time they see men and women working together harmoniously and the first time they may see that a man can be a positive, constructive presence in their life. The men who go through our rigorous training to become our Mugger Instructors are the most big-hearted, altruistic guys we know – guys dedicated to empowering women. We love men and know that by and large most men are wonderful people. However, the statistics show that most assaults are committed by men. We train our students to deal with the most common situations that they might find themselves in and therefore, we train them to defend against attacks by men. The techniques we teach will be equally effective against a female assailant. If there is anyone we “hate” it is assailants and criminals who seek to hurt other people or force their will upon them.

“If I prepare for an attack it will draw that energy into my life”

That’s a little like saying ‘if I put on my seatbelt, I draw an accident into my life.’ It’s kind of absurd. Likewise, just as you wouldn’t drive your car into traffic without the simple preventative measure of buckling up, we believe you shouldn’t circulate in the world without the simple preventative measure of learning to access your body’s natural defenses in a crisis. It’s basic physical literacy. While we are known for our fighting, our classes are really about boundary setting and communication. Good communication allows one to create a life as one wishes and that couldn’t be more about bringing positive energy into your life.

“If my daughter thinks she can fight, she’ll make stupid choices”

We doubt it. Again, this empowerment that comes from IMPACT training is just a leveling of the playing field allowing our students to walk through the world with the same confidence and peace of mind that many men take for granted. Knowing one can fight for one’s life does not equal a sudden desire for charging into dark alleys. If anything, a student’s new awareness of the world around her will enable her to make smarter choices about her safety because she’ll see trouble coming long before she would have before.

“It looks good but it won’t really work”

It will and does. It works because we are not training your rational brain but the primal “frog brain,” the brain that takes over in fight-or-flight crisis moments and keeps you alive. Because we teach in the adrenaline state, what we teach is permanently seared into your frog brain so there is nothing to remember. If you are threatened your body will know what to do and you will react. While we proudly claim that our training drops the national stats of a woman’s likelihood of assault from 1 in 3 to 1 in 30, it’s that one in 30 who comes back to tell us her success story of how she dealt with her attack. We have reams of successes both large and small from the tiny fifteen-year old who was grabbed at knife point and dragged into an alley to the older woman who was faced with her batterer on his release from jail. The teen sent her attacker away in an ambulance with a broken knee while the woman sent her ex back to jail with a broken nose.

And more than that, there are the tiny daily success stories like the woman who finally found the courage to ask her intimidating boss for a raise, the woman who was able to leave her house after dark after being shut in by fear in the ten years following her rape, the boy who recognized the abductor tactics in the candy offer from the nice-seeming lady and was able to get away from her and back to his mother. IMPACT works. IMPACT works in hundreds of ways in thousands of lives every day.

“It’s so violent”

What about a real attack? While there is no safe way to do an unsafe thing, we have created the safest possible way to simulate an attack and train students how to deal effectively with it. The sad reality is that there is violence in our culture. One is better off learning how to deal with it than pretending it doesn’t exist. With the statistics at 1 in 3 for women experiencing sexual assault in their lives, the odds are too great to leave it to chance that it won’t happen to you. Most of our students wouldn’t describe class as violent so much as intense, thrilling, and empowering. Many more talk about the sense of calm and peace they get from it. Kind of like the way a roller coaster allows you to feel what would otherwise be life-threatening drops and speeds while remaining perfectly safe, IMPACT allows you to deal with an assault in the same way. While your mind knows it’s fake and safe, your body doesn’t know the difference and thus records the class scenarios as real, fight-for-your-life victories. Thus, students leave class with their bodies and minds knowing they are powerful, safe creatures.

“I’m never really alone – I have a big dog, I have a gun, etc.”

While friends, family, dogs and even body guards are wonderful, they can’t be relied upon for your safety 100% of the time. While friends and family may intimidate an assailant by their very presence, they may or may not know how to fight or what to do in a real crisis situation. While a big dog is certainly a deterrent, unless a dog has undergone specific training for defense, your beloved pooch may react to an attack on you in unpredictable ways. Even body guards aren’t there every minute.

Many responsible gun owners train to use their gun and shoot often. But have you done so under adrenaline stress when your body believed it was fighting for its life? The body often can’t access memory and logic under adrenaline so much standard training goes out the window. The statistics show that guns are often taken from a defensive party and used against them. They also show that rather than being used against an assailant, they are most often used intentionally or accidentally against a member of the family. So the odds of unintended injury to yourself or another family member from your protective weapon are high.

Wouldn’t it feel better to know that if all those other safeguards – dogs, guns, bodyguards – fail, you can take care of yourself with your own hands, feet, brain and fighting spirit?

“Those guys aren’t really attacking the students”

Yes. They. Are. They are absolutely grabbing, pinning, blocking just as a real assailant would. How do we know? Our program was developed in part with the cooperation of incarcerated assailants as to how they really did things. Are our guys throwing a full round-house to the head? No, but the students are trained to block first and then attempts at blows are made. We assert that actually hitting students is not an effective training technique. Nor could we guarantee students’ safety if we added that aspect. We also assert that the students are trained to deal with adrenaline and were they to face an actual assailant and be hit, the adrenaline and fighting spirit they discovered in class would carry them through the fight. Injuries are generally consciously registered after a fight when the adrenaline has dissipated from the body.

Ask any graduate and she will tell you the attacks are real and full-force. The guys are trained to give realistic reactions in the suits so that if they feel a hit that would have been a knock-out blow to an unarmored body, they will respond accordingly. Therefore the students have to fight as hard as they can to land that knock-out blow.

“You’re just training girls to be bullies”

So everyone who knows the powerful potential of their body is a bully? Many men grow up confident in their strength and power and yet most men don’t go around beating people up at will. Men who don’t understand the primal fear for their safety most women live with on a daily basis cannot grasp this fundamental difference between the genders. For women to learn the power of their bodies is simply to level the playing field. It enables us to walk through the world with the same confidence and peace of mind that many men take for granted. Humans are the only species to tell one gender that they are weak and cannot fight for their lives. All IMPACT does is debunk that fallacy.

“It’s too expensive”

We believe your life is worth far more than $595. Our prices haven’t been raised since the late 1980s. In reality, the course should cost over $1,000 by now to keep up with our costs and inflation but we felt it was important to keep this training financially accessible. In fact we’ve lowered most class tuitions with the recession. You’re paying for 20 hours of training with a teaching team of 3-5 world-class experts. If you break that down to an hourly rate, $595 is a steal and far less than you’d pay for the same hours with a trainer at a gym, for example. We’re confident by the end of class you’ll agree it’s priceless.

We never want money to be the reason a women doesn’t get this life-changing training. To that end we offer payment plans, work-trade solutions and even scholarships based on financial need. Contact our office to see what how we can make it work for you.