subscribe to our Newsletter
At least once a month, we’ll publish stories of our students’ journeys, events at the dojo, or in-depth analyses of techniques. Subscribing to our blog is a great way to get to know our dojo community of students and instructors!
The Martial Arts, Self Defense, and Empowerment
In our martial arts classes, one of our primary goals is to help students acquire skills to be able to defend themselves. From kicks, punches, and strong stances to walking away from situations that might pose a danger, students develop confidence in their abilities as they advance through many years of training. We also practice forms as a way of simulating physical conflict, and these help us develop focus and endurance.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and to develop skills for self defense, but we know that not everyone may be able or interested in taking martial arts. In 2015, Sr. Master Lisa and Sensei Michele developed a self-defense curriculum called SETpoint out of a desire to bring inclusive, trauma-informed, and survivor-centered programming to people at high risk of assault. The SETpoint curriculum is grounded in a model called Empowerment Self Defense (ESD). ESD is highly researched, and has been shown in numerous ongoing studies to greatly reduce the potential of assault and physical violence (see https://jocelynhollander.com/self-defense/ for an overview by one of the primary researchers in the field).
ESD provides an opportunity to practice skills that are complementary to our martial arts programming. SETpoint programs focus on core elements that include:
- Situational Awareness to give ourselves time and space to react, as well as to recognize healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships;
- Boundary Setting and De-Escalation through stance, eye contact and voice, with drills that focus on setting, identifying, defending, and respecting boundaries;
- Physical Resistance Skills that are based on the inherent strengths and weaknesses of ANY body and can be quickly learned and executed without years of practice, including strikes and low kicks to vulnerable targets that will cause a predictable response to the other person's body;
- Survivor Support as a key self defense tool after a trauma; and
- Active Bystander Intervention, where we use the toolkit we build for self defense to help another person.
We have ongoing partnerships with a number of local organizations where we offer ESD, including the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery, and several local universities. Master Lisa and Senseis Michele and Camille have coached with these organizations, and we work with the organizations to refine our teaching and our programming to be most effective for people they serve. In addition, our coaches regularly take part in training opportunities to help teach in trauma-informed and inclusive ways, including trainings on sexual assault counseling; diversity and equity; and sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. All of these also help in our day-to-day martial arts instruction, as we honor and value the unique history and life story each of our students brings to the dojo floor.
We’re proud to offer both traditional martial arts and SETpoint training at SDSS in Regent Square. The programs provide a complementary set of skills designed to help anyone interested in self defense to find an option that’s right for them; skills that all of us can use as we navigate through school, work, travel, and our personal lives.
Interested in taking a SETpoint session? April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and we’re excited to partner with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape to offer a session at our studio in Regent Square on April 19th from 5:30 - 8:30pm. Learn more and register. Learn more about SETpoint programming at www.set-point.org.