March is Women’s History Month and IMPACT is a women-founded, women-lead organization. We want to highlight some of our key founders in the realm of IMPACT and Empowerment Self-Defense. But let’s define what empowerment self-defense means in general and to IMPACT.
What is empowerment self-defense?
Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) is a holistic, evidenced-based primary violence prevention system that emerged from the second-wave feminist movement of the late 1960s. It teaches individuals how to interrupt violence by listening to their intuition, assessing their options, asserting boundaries, using de-escalation strategies, and employing tools for a range of mental, verbal and physical responses. ESD recognizes that systems of violence are complex, and that it requires more than just physical techniques to disrupt violence. ESD gives people the power to choose how to respond to violence, without criticism or victim blaming.
What is IMPACT’s teaching method?
IMPACT is an empowerment-based, trauma-informed self-defense company and we have been around for over 35 years. While there were and are a lot of really great self-defense programs out there, there weren’t very many that talked about the difference between how people perceived as women and people perceived as male are attacked. We started solely as a women’s self-defense organization to address this difference and to give women tools and techniques to defend themselves. As we grew, we added more programs to address more questions. What happens if you're very young and are attacked, either by an adult or a peer? How do you defend yourself as a man? What if you're a part of the LGBTQ+ community? What if you have a disability? What if you’re in an enclosed space? What happens if the assailant has a weapon? We have developed programs to answer these questions and we are constantly addressing ways we can progress as an organization to answer more and more questions.
Regardless of where you take your IMPACT class, we all believe that everyone has the right to live without fear of violence. We believe that self- defense is not just how hard you can hit someone, but it's something that you do in all aspects of your life. Our full-spectrum approach to self-defense is what allows our students to not only protect themselves physically, but also verbally, emotionally, mentally. IMPACT is dedicated to restoring empowerment and choice by equipping our participants with the emotional, verbal, and physical skills to move freely in the world. We envision a world in which human beings more deeply and authentically connect as they declare their individual boundaries and reclaim their inherent right and responsibility to universal safety & well-being.
Lisa Gaeta - Founder of IMPACT Personal Safety and IMPACT Global
Lisa Gaeta was raised in Southern California and attended college at California Lutheran University, graduating with a BA in Communications and Political Science, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. After graduating, she took a position at Cal Lutheran teaching Public Speaking and served as Faculty Advisor for the University radio station, KCRL.
Half-way through her master’s program in 1984, Lisa took a Model Mugging class. From her first heel-palm, she knew she was hooked and her career plans changed drastically! She and her partner at the time, Al Potash, started what is now IMPACT Personal Safety, SoCal in 1985 because she recognized that while Lisa’s first class was good, there was a lot left unsaid. Lisa, along with the various teams she has worked with over the decades, has made considerable changes and developments to the original program. Most notably, she made changes and additions to the verbal strategies that are taught in most IMPACT programs. She continues to encourage course development and improvement from her staff.
Lisa has been a driving force in keeping IMPACT alive in Southern California and all over the United States. She has trained hundreds of instructors around the world to teach IMPACT and has taught thousands of women, children, and men how to live their lives more safely…and, well, she taught them to kick ass, too!
When the COVID-19 quarantine of 2020 hit, Lisa and many others in the self-defense community began gathering virtually via Zoom and sharing information with one another.
There were so many people who have been teaching some form of self-defense for 10, 20, 30 years, and they had never met one another. Now we were meeting together virtually and learning more about one another as we learned from one another.
This started an exciting time for Lisa and IMPACT Personal Safety: people all around the world wanted to take the class and wanted to be instructors. This launched the new venture of IMPACT Global. IMPACT instructors from all over the world are forming a travel team to go and teach IMPACT classes and to train the next generation of IMPACT instructors, this time on an international scale.
Amelia Dorn - Founder of IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado, Creative Director, Instructor Trainer
IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado was founded by Colorado native, Amelia Norfleet Dorn, who was introduced to suited, adrenaline-based self defense training with Worth Defending while in her teens. Amelia has over 20 years of experience in the fields of self defense and empowerment. She trained and taught with Lisa Gaeta in Los Angeles from 1997 to 2005. In 2006, Amelia and her husband, David Dorn, founded IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado (IPSCO). Since then, IPSCO has trained thousands of individuals in Colorado participating in public classes and through our corporate offerings.
Amelia currently serves as IPSCO’s Creative Director and Instructor Trainer. Her greatest passion lies in primary-prevention programming like IMPACT’s Empowered Family Workshop and rehabilitation programs for convicts in federal and local correctional facilities. Amelia also facilitates Our Whole Lives (O.W.L.), a comprehensive and values-based sexuality education program for all ages. She works with staff and instructors to develop innovative new programs and curricula and put a personal stamp on this already-phenomenal work. Throughout the course of her career, Amelia has taught personal safety skills to thousands of adults and children. She is the proud mama of two very EMPOWERED children.
Yudit Sidikman - Founder of ESD Global and El Halev, Activist for the ESD Movement
Many people dream of making the world a better place. As a leader and activist in the Empowerment Self Defense movement. Yehudit (Yudit) Zicklin-Sidikman has been realizing her vision of a safer world for over two decades.
Yudit has founded two organizations, both of which are dedicated to teaching Empowerment Self Defense (ESD) techniques, abuse-prevention skills, and personal safety strategies to all who want and need them.
ESD Global Inc., of which she is founder and president, is a US-based non-profit that makes ESD training accessible worldwide. Since its inception in 2017, ESD Global has held eight international trainings and certified 164 women and men from over 40 countries on six continents to provide Empowerment Self Defense instruction to the members of their communities.
Yudit is also a founder, former CEO, and senior advisor of El HaLev, an Israeli NGO that provides ESD and martial arts instruction to women, children, and other vulnerable populations. El HaLev holds Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) and is considered to be an expert resource. In addition, El Halev is the recipient of the Midot Seal of Effectiveness for non-profit organizations, an award which attests to El HaLev’s success in stimulating significant social change.
In 2020, ESD Global Inc. and El HaLev joined forces to sponsor the first International Violence Prevention Education Conference (VPEC). At the conference, Yudit delivered talks on the importance of making Empowerment Self Defense accessible worldwide and led a series of hands-on workshops for aspiring instructors.
Other highlights of Yudit’s speaking career include an ESD workshop at the Girl Up Leadership Summit and a talk entitled “The Role of Empowerment Self Defense as a Method of Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention,” delivered at the 3rd Annual Conference on Domestic Violence in Oslo, Norway.
Yudit has given presentations on the importance of Empowerment Self Defense training at Women Moving Millions Summits. Through her work with The Lions of Judah Association, she has spearheaded projects that generate social justice, aid the vulnerable, and preserve human dignity.