- Sean Cayton
Fullpower's five-hour workshop is a tour de force for ass kicking in the name of self-defense. It offers techniques for repelling head-on assaults as well as surprise snags from behind. And if you thought the dead-of-night bogeyman that smothers victims horizontally was utterly invulnerable, you'll learn that effective resistance is just a hip swivel away.
Participants of Fullpower's programs are mostly, though not exclusively, women who have been victims of crimes, from sexual assaults to muggings.
"For some of them, it almost feels as if their shame enters the room before they do," says Sam Rush-Walton who co-directs the center with Tracy Schneider, pictured above. "But within five hours they find that place of righteous anger, that place that says, 'It's wrong for someone to do this to me.' And then they're able to give that back to someone because it's not their shame to carry."
That someone is in the form of Karl Herndon, a deputy with the county Sheriff's Office, who suits up in a Buck Rogers outfit complete with 60 pounds of padding. As the "attacker," Herndon takes eye pokes, heel palm slaps and snap kicks to the face, chest, and where it counts while helping students re-enact their various traumas.
Fullpower combines martial arts techniques with a psychological understanding of perpetrator-victim dynamics. Its name refers to the necessity of practicing at full capacity; to hit, kick, and scream at the right time in the right part of the body and to get away as quickly as possible.
At the heart of the training, Rush-Walton explains, is patterning defense moves into the bodies of participants. The hope is that in the moment's adrenaline gush, their memory kicks in and, should the situation call for it, keeps on kicking.
Of course, Fullpower is not all about punching and jabbing. "We are not creating fighting automatons," says Rush-Walton. "We're teaching people how to keep themselves safe in their own body."
-- John Dicker
photo by Sean Cayton
Fullpower is a recipient of a grant from the Independence Community Fund, a charitable arm of the Independent. This is the second of a series profiling this year's seven recipient organizations. To learn more about Fullpower, call 591-6289 or visit