Something most of you probably don't know is that I am currently a licensed instructor with 500 Rising in Instructional Foundations for Women's Self Defense. I completed the Level 1 class and requirements back in April of 2022 and then completed the Level 2 class and requirements in September of 2022. (I'm proud to also say that one of my daughters has completed the classes and is working towards her certification as well. Her journey has been amazing to watch.) Part of my ongoing requirements to stay licensed include continuing my training. This past weekend I was able to do just that.
Before going to far with my post, I feel it's important to tell you about the founder of 500 Rising, Dr. Tammy McCracken.
From the 500 Rising website:
(I've known Tammy for a couple years now. Believe me when I say that you probably won't meet a nicer, more down to earth, a** kicker than her!)
Because of the person she is and the things she's accomplished, she has an amazing amount of respect within the community. That acts like a magnet for other strong women that want to get involved and I see it with each subsequent class I've taken. Each class has grown in size and grown in "reach". More and more women with amazing backgrounds are coming to the table. For this last class we had people from Canada, the UK, Sweden, Norway, and from around the US. It really was an amazing mix of humans.
Each of us came to 500 Rising for our own personal reasons. What we left with though was a clear common goal (and plan), to turn the tide of violence against women. There is an untold amount of work yet to be done, but that work has already started. Before I get into some more details about the class, I do need to rewind my life for some context.
First things first, yes, I am guy, average height, but I've been lifting since I was in 8th grade (more strongman type lifting than anything else). I know there are bigger and stronger people out there, but for my day to day, I generally don't worry too much about people messing with me. Why? Well, to be blunt, there are much easier "targets" out there than me. Just as lions look for the (perceived) weakest animal in the herd to attack, human predators (for the most part) follow that same instinct: highest reward, lowest risk.
Like everyone else, I wasn't always who I am today though. At one point I was just a kid.. a helpless kid who could do nothing but hope that things would change, that things would stop. Providing comfort almost felt shallow because the pain was so deep. Even before knowing anything about marriage and raising kids, I vowed to myself that my wife and my kids would have the best life I could give them and that I wouldn't follow what the statistics said I should turn out to be. I'm far from perfect, (I lovingly get reminded from time to time.. lol) but I'm constantly trying to better myself and be engaged in a positive way. This, 500 Rising, felt like something that was supposed to be there in my life. It was like everything I've ever been through, and every decision I ever made, put me on that doorstep.. and I walked through it without hesitation. Now, on to the classes!
To prepare for each class, there are a number of slides and videos to watch. The prep materials laid the foundation for the upcoming class. For the first class, I felt like I was prepared for what was to come, but I wasn't. Listening to the women (and the couple of other men who were there) talk about what brought them to 500 Rising was humbling. Even with all of memories I live with, the stories were hard to listen to. I knew then that if I really wanted to understand what I needed to do, and how to do it, then I needed to find that child that still lives in my head, and live in those shoes during my time in class. (I realize it's not the same as being a woman. Simply put, that was my most vulernable time in my life. Me just being today's "me" and "powering through" everything was not going to put me in a position for personal growth or put me in a position to learn what I needed to be an effective instructor.) It wasn't easy to put part of me back there and allow myself to feel that vulnerable. It truly was mentally exhausting. The only thing I could compare the mental exhaustion to would be finals week in college, and you've been up studying for 4+ days straight. Even then though, this was different.
This last class, like the other classes, covered an array of topics. The basics of running a women's self defense class or workshop was one of the first topics. Much of it covered things we went over in the Level 1 class, but it was a great reminder. Each day was broken up with time for slides and conversations and then time for movement/physical skill drills. That really helped us stay focused, especially since most people had just worked a full week or traveled from overseas just to get there. The slides and conversations went through the psychological, emotional, and legal aspects of domestic violence. Diving deeper led to topics such as situational awareness, setting boundaries, epigenetics, acute vs chronic trauma, and possible legal consequences of defending yourself (as crazy as that may sound). It might seem like we're training to become therapists, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. The point of learning all of these things is to help us understand what the threats are and how they present themselves. There are always anomalies, but speak to anyone familiar with domestic violence and you'll soon see patterns. These patterns can be different in different parts of the world, but they exist.
On the second day, we grouped up and had to present 2 techniques from any martial art or self defense that was either appropriate for women's self defense, or not appropriate for women's self defense. In addition to demonstrating the technique, we had to explain the "why?". A glaring example of something that wouldn't be appropriate for women's self defense is a TKD "tornado kick" (timing and range issues, the pure athleticism required). Meanwhile "brush, block, strike" (more universal, doesn't matter which hand you start with) was something that is appropriate for women's self defense.
At the end of each day we'd review what we did and go over any questions or comments that anyone may have (part of the "retreival" process of learning).
There is a lot more that I could write about regarding the classes and what 500 Rising is doing, but it would be better for you to read more about them, straight from them. (I like to think I'm a decent writer, but there's a reason I'm a Software Engineer by trade and not a Tech Writer!)
Please visit their website at:
If you want to help support them (they are a 501(c)3 Not-For-Profit Organization), then please consider donating! Right now they are collecting donations for the first Safe House for women & children in Zambia. That process is already underway, but they need more support. Donation information can be found on their homepage.
To stay up to date with what is happening and what classes are available, I encourage you to follow them on their social media accounts:
Also, please like and share their links to your own social media accounts. You never know who may need, or want to, help..
Please contact us if you have questions or if you would like additional information regarding the 4WARD pool.