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The ABC’s of Empowerment Self-Defense: The Letter O

Self-defense is more than just how hard you can hit. It is the full spectrum of tools that you can use to protect yourself every single day. We utilize skills from self-defense in our decision-making processes, such as when we communicate with people, when we drive or do activities, and more! Self-defense is really so expansive that we thought we would give you a better idea of what to expect when you take a self-defense class with IMPACT by breaking it down for you ABC-style.

The Letter O: Options

“We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world.” (J. William Fulbright)

One of the key pieces that we train in our students is the knowledge that they have options. It can be easy to feel stuck and limited when experiencing a stressful situation. We help students see all of the tools that they have to utilize and learn how to put them into practice. We teach students to go through a decision-making process every time they are faced with a stressful situation. Part of this is identifying what they need out of the situation (what their boundary is) and then identifying all of the choices or options they have in order to achieve that boundary (including the creative strategies). For example, let’s say we are passing someone on the street and they start staring and pointing at us and we need them to let us pass and continue on our way. Some of the options we have could be:

  • Setting a verbal boundary with them

  • Pretend to know someone on the street and go up to them to ask for help

  • Go into a business and wait for them to pass

  • Distract them from the current situation by spilling or dropping something

  • Keep walking and keep our awareness up as we pass them

  • Cross the street

  • Being prepared to use physical skills if it escalates

Physically, we are equipped with a multitude of tools that we can use to keep ourselves safe. We have protective stances we can get into, parts of our body that are effective to strike with if needed, and even just remembering to breathe. Verbally, we have many ways that we can use our voice to set boundaries, de-escalate, or otherwise communicate our needs. Mentally, we have our brains and nervous system that can help us manage our adrenaline, think critically, and be aware of changing dynamics that might require different strategies.

When all of these tools work together, we are presented with a lot of options. By recognizing our options, we can help ourselves move into taking action.


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