IMPACT Personal Safety has been training women, men, teens and children in self-defense and personal safety for nearly three decades.

The IMPACT full-force, full-contact form of self-defense has its roots in the early 1970s with a group of martial artists who developed a new form of self-defense for women in response to the assault and rape of one of their female black-belts. Their system would  address the needs and capabilities of women, acknowledge women’s issues, and use training methods that featured more realism and therefore better results.

In 1984, the seeds for Impact Personal Safety were planted when our founder, Lisa Gaeta, took her first “Model Mugging” class. Once she fought off the mugger for the first time, she knew her life was changed for ever. She trained to become an instructor and soon after began to develop the verbal skills curriculum which is now so prevalent in most IMPACT training around the globe. Because of this work, in conjunction with the writings of Gavin De Becker in his groundbreaking book the Gift of Fear, our ‘verbals’ have become our defining feature and what many grads report as the most valuable thing they take from class.

IMPACT initially developed its training for adult women, seeking to combat the frightening statistic that one-in-three women will be the victim of sexual assault during her lifetime. But at least half of the women who took our class had already survived some type of assault. So we developed workshops for teen girls. When we again encountered a much-too-high incidence of assault in that age group, we developed a kids program for boys and girls, ages 6-12.

Over the years, the husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and other males in the lives of our female graduates expressed a desire for training. This led to further research into the dynamics of assaults on males and the development of a men’s course.

Students had endless “what if…?” questions—What if I can’t see? What if he has a gun? What if I’m in a bed? What if my kids are with me?—which resulted in experimentation and the addition of more classes to our roster such as the Advanced Course, Partners, Weapons Defense and Multiple Assailants. But, we didn’t stop there…

In 1989, Millicent Collinsworth asked IMPACT to train her in self-defense. Millicent was legally blind, partially deaf in one ear, and had been the victim of several assaults. IMPACT accepted her challenge and eventually assisted Millicent in creating Project: Blind Ambition, a non-profit self-defense training program for the disabled. This cemented another fundamental of IMPACT’s philosophy—no matter what a person’s disability, we can teach them to improve their personal safety.

In 1993, Marlborough School in Los Angeles hired IMPACT to teach the nation’s first semester-long course in self-defense for PE credit. In fact, demand for the course at Marlborough has been so great that now three to four classes are offered each semester. We’re constantly adding to our list of schools, companies, organizations and community groups for whom we teach.

In 2010 we became a 501(c)3 non-profit with the goal of providing our life-saving training to at-risk youth, and financially disadvantaged women who cannot afford our regular classes. We work with the LA Downtown Women’s Shelter regularly and in 2013 added scholarship slots to all of our regular Basics courses.