By paying attention to our impulses, we are able to snap out of inaction more quickly than sheer instinct might allow, while through repetition and the uninhibited use of our full strength, we are building fight reflexes into our body memory.
I was told that instructors go through an estimated 150 to 200 hours of training in order to be able to tailor the curriculum to each student's needs and capabilities. Students of Impact, at least in the Bay Area, are also given the opportunity to participate in a custom fight battling the personification of an abstract fear or a real-life trauma. In this way a single classroom can simultaneously empower a victim of past abuse (such as Naomi) to take back space, encourage a nice girl to assert her boundaries firmly, and inspire a perennial klutz like me to drop to the floor of her living room to practice thrust kicks leading with the heel over and over until it no longer feels weird at all but just right.
For our public celebration, or graduation, we invited friends and family members to witness our final fights. We took turns being tackled, grabbed, held down, and verbally provoked while we battled back with all the promised speed and finesse that seemed so impossible our first day. Not every move was executed with picture-perfect aplomb, but the audible thwap thwap of our connecting strikes was evidence enough of our newfound abilities. If we took nothing else away from our experience, we could be sure of this: each Impact graduate (and there are more than 8,000 in the Bay Area alone) older or younger, fit or not has learned to kick like a girl, with strength, with speed, with heart. *
IMPACT BAY AREA
Adults $465, young adults $395, teens $195
146 E. 12th St., Oakl.
Join Impact Bay Area for its annual SHINE fundraiser at the Women's Building on April 29. After a demonstration of Impact techniques, the public can watch graduates of each training level fight a padded assailant on the mat. Admission is free; children under 12 are not permitted. All proceeds go to Impact's scholarship fund, which enables low- and no-income women to take the course. (More than $17,000 in scholarships were distributed in 2006.)
April 29, 1 p.m., free. Women's Bldg., 3543 18th St., SF. (415) 431-1180