Empowerment Self Defense

Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) is a specific type of self defense that adheres to standards developed from within the women’s self defense community. It is sometimes referred to as Feminist Self Defense.

Key tenants of ESD that distinguish it from other programs include:

  • A belief that all people have the right to live free of violence and abuse. And that all people have the right to take an active role in asserting their own physical and verbal needs.
  • A non-victim-blaming stance that places responsibility for violence on the person who perpetrates violence, not the person harmed by that violence.
  • An understanding of the societal forces that create a culture where women, older adults, children, people with disabilities, gender non-conforming individuals, and people of color are at greater risk of interpersonal violence or abuse.
  • An understanding that acts of violence and abuse are statistically more likely to come from people already in our lives rather than from strangers.
  • An emphasis on practice of verbal as well as physical skills. Inclusion of assertiveness, de-escalation, self-protection, and intervention.
  • Integration of knowledge of trauma reactions, re-triggering, and neurological regulation.

Empowerment Self Defense grew out of a social justice movement so it does not have a centralized home — its history and development are shared by many. Here are some guidelines about selecting a self-defense workshop that were created by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation: How to Choose a Self-Defense Class

Carmel is a certified ESD instructor through the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and also currently works with EDS Global, providing mentorship for newer instructors. Carmel is a founding member of the ESD Alliance.

Contact Carmel to schedule a workshop or series of workshops. Typically kids workshops are 1-2 hours, teen and adult workshops are 2-3 hours. Any workshop can be tailored to a specific focus (women-only; immigrant focused; LGBTQ* focused; navigating physical limitations; for social workers  / social services personnel; for school personnel; etc.) Workshops options include:

Introductory Topics:

  • Dealing with Bullies & Peer Pressure (kids)
  • Empowered Dating (pre-teens / teens / adults)
  • General Self-Defense (both verbal & physical)
  • Workplace Issues
  • Being an Upstander, not a Bystander

Advanced Topics (require Introductory training first):

  • Fighting from the Ground
  • Multiple Attackers
  • Weapons
  • Defense Inside & Outside Cars