How old – or young – do I need to be to take a class?

  • Our programs for children start at age 6, for both genders and continue through 12th Grade
  • College programs are offered for women only
  • Our adult self-defense classes are open to women of all ages and abilities: minimum age is 14, and there is no maximum age. We’ve had grandmothers in their 70s take the workshop – we will adjust the training for any physical limitations.

Do I have to be in shape? What if I have past injuries, or a physical disability?

The physical portion of the training does not require a high degree of fitness. Our program is designed for women of all abilities, to provide them with practical personal safety skills that they can implement immediately after taking a class, if necessary.

Our staff is trained to adjust the training for students with a variety of physical or developmental issues. We look at what a student CAN do, versus what they can’t. The reality is that assailants do not give a pass to someone with injuries or disabilities; in fact, statistics show that those with disabilities are at a much higher risk of assault. So learning to defend yourself, regardless of physical limitations, is an important component of personal safety.

I’m a survivor of assault – I’m concerned about triggers and being re-traumatized

At least half of the women who take our courses are survivors of assault or abuse – which mirrors the overall population, where it is estimated that 50% of women will be the victim of a sexual assault in their lifetime.

We understand the courage it takes to sign up for our programs and walk through the door – many of our staff members are also survivors, and we too faced that challenge when we took our first Empower class.

Our goal is to provide a safe environment for all our students. Learning self-defense skills can be an emotional experience – which is no problem, as we have plenty of Kleenex! There may not be any crying in baseball, but crying as you learn self-defense is perfectly acceptable. In fact, we’ve observed that many of our students fight their hardest when crying because at that point, they are holding nothing back.

Self-defense training is a different process for each person. We are not counselors or therapists, thus we encourage students to pursue additional support outside of our workshops if needed. But within the context of an Empower class, our staff is trained to offer in-the-moment support to assist students through the program.

Where do you teach?

We offer programs throughout the entire state of Wyoming. We do not have a studio – instead, we are mobile and flexible, traveling to our students rather than having them come to us. We rent space wherever needed: we’ve taught workshops in school gyms, conference rooms, martial arts studios, churches, fitness studios, basements, etc.

Many of our workshops are privately organized by schools, groups, and organizations. In addition, we sometimes offer adult women self-defense classes to the general public.

Contact us if you are interested in putting together a training, and join our mailing list to stay informed of upcoming workshops and programs.

Who are Empower's instructors, where do they come from and how are they trained?

Our female instructors start as students: they experience all of the training from a student’s perspective first, before moving into a volunteer role as a workshop Assistant.

Our male instructors are often referred to us by women who have taken the training. They also must experience the workshops as a student before starting the process of becoming an instructor.

All of our instructors are trained through an apprenticeship process. They volunteer to participate in workshops and programs, learning by “doing,” gradually increasing their time in an instructor capacity. This process can take a year or more, and insures that Empower instructors are well-prepared before they take on a leadership role.

In addition, Empower instructors undertake intensive training with the staff of IMPACT Personal Safety in Los Angeles approximately every 2 years. Taking advantage of IMPACT’s knowledge and experience is an invaluable resource for Empower’s staff.

Empower has consciously chosen a more time-intensive method to develop staff and instructors, because we believe this is the only way to insure the quality of training that our students deserve.

What’s the difference between self-defense and martial arts?

In general, martial arts developed as fighting systems designed by and for men: they were created to address male-on-male assaults, utilizing the strongest assets of male physiology. The most well-known martial arts are of Asian origin: Japan, Korea, and China, with additional arts developing in Thailand and the Philippines.

Today, many martial arts incorporate a sport element, with training aimed at competitions. There is also an “art” component that can include a life philosophy and a focus on certain rituals. Most martial arts acknowledge mastery of their skills with a ranking system of belts.

In contrast, self-defense has a much more narrow focus. The emphasis is on practical, realistic skills that will work in a no-rules street fight. While self-defense borrows from the martial arts – and a martial artist would recognize nearly all the strikes taught in self-defense – those trained only in self-defense are not considered martial artists.

Empower teaches “empowerment self-defense,” a grass-roots form of self-defense specifically designed for women that started in the 1970s. This training focuses on the physical strengths of a female body and addresses assault dynamics unique to women (e.g., dealing with a person who is probably heavier and stronger, ground-fighting and attempted rape scenarios, verbal boundary-setting with strangers and “familiars” – people that you know).

What is “empowerment self-defense”?

Empowerment self-defense is a grass-roots form of self-defense specifically designed for women that started in the 1970s. It began as physical self-defense aimed at rape-prevention, but has grown to include a much broader range of personal safety training:

  • Awareness
  • Verbal boundary-setting: with Strangers as well as “Familiars,” people that you know
  • Intervention and Advocate strategies
  • Programs for children and teens

A hallmark of the IMPACT empowerment self-defense system taught by Empower is the element of adrenalized training. Students learn physical and verbal skills in a similar state as that in which they may have to use said skills: this is called “state-dependent learning.”

While common in training for law-enforcement and the military, the opportunity to experience adrenalized training is rare for average citizens. Empower provides this very effective training method to its students, allowing them to learn realistic personal safety skills in a compressed time frame.

Are there studies regarding the effectiveness of this type of training?

Yes. Check out our Statistics page for a list of case studies.

Can men take this workshop?

Empower’s programs focus on those most often targeted for sexual assault: women, teen girls and children of both genders. However, we do allow men to join our workshops but the determination is made on a case-by-case basis.

Can students with physical or developmental challenges take these workshops?

Empower’s trainings can accommodate the specific needs of students with a variety of challenges. Depending on the issues, we may suggest that a student take a private training to better address their needs, but often we can adjust techniques within the context of a mainstream workshop.

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