BI workshops teach empowerment, self-defense

Self-defense classes have been around for decades and the idea is simple: to teach women to better physically handle dangerous situations.

But there is a missing link between having the physical ability to handle anything and having the self-esteem mentally to put that ability into action. And that’s the idea behind a series of workshops held on Bainbridge Island.

Be Bold Be Brave, which promotes itself as ‘self-defense from the inside out’, is led by two island residents, Dr. Allison Kress, nationally recognized clinical psychologist and Master Steph Aduddell, professor of marriage arts and fourth degree Tae. Black Belt Kwon Do, who runs Pacific Fusion Martial Arts.

The genesis of the workshops comes from one of Auddell’s oft-repeated sayings to his students: “All physical self-defense training in the world will not make a difference unless you feel worthy of being defended.” ”

Kress, whose daughter is a pupil of Auddell, heard this mantra and realized that it was the perfect concept to apply to her work.

“This is exactly what I do by helping women turn their personal challenges into opportunities for self-discovery and empowerment,” Kress said.

This is when Be Bold Be Brave was born – a holistic approach to personal empowerment that speaks to the whole person mentally, physically and spiritually. And the skills are transferable to all aspects of life – the classroom, personal relationships, the athletic fields, and the business world – regardless of age.

Be Bold Be Brave offers workshops for women of all age groups, including middle and high school, middle school, and adults. The workshops are age-appropriate and tailored to the unique needs of each group. The workshops for adults also include fun activities, such as tapas and wine tastings.

The next workshop will take place on September 25 at the Pacific Fusion Martial Arts and is aimed at college girls.

A typical day begins with receiving a bag of goodies for participants, then the group comes together to break the ice and get to know each other.

Kress will then lead the group, working on internal empowerment first and weaving together concepts like self-defense and assertiveness. Workshops usually have a guest speaker as well as group work and will cover different topics. For example, Courtney Oliver of Bainbridge Youth Services joined a previous workshop with teenage girls to discuss dating, setting boundaries and sexual assault.

Be Bold Be Brave also features a question-and-answer panel so young girls can ask older people things they would like to know at their age. For example, a workshop for secondary school students will feature high school girls.

Although the topics are heavy and taken seriously, the workshop aims to leave students feeling positive and uplifted rather than weighed down. “We want people to leave feeling like they’re on top of the world,” Kress said.

After lunch, the physical work begins with Master Aduddell. Students can write on one side of the board something that they personally find difficult, whether it is in their own life or a problem that is happening in the world. “It’s a huge success,” Aduddell said. “We found out that they had some amazing topics to discuss at this point.”

On the other hand, they write down what they hope to gain from the workshop and what possibilities might be opened up. “We’re breaking the boards we’ve been working on,” Aduddell said, “and we come out of it incredibly empowered, hopefully, really working on this internal gut response.”

The combination of Kress and Aduddell is natural for both women. Kress has over 20 years of clinical practice experience and has led numerous therapy groups focused on women and has presented a number of larger presentations for schools, parents and professionals. Aduddell, in addition to teaching martial arts, fills his classes with lessons on goal setting, self-actualization and life skills.

Their respective areas of expertise combine perfectly. “I can dig into the physical,” Aduddell said. “Allison can dig into where we are emotionally for three times and how we empower ourselves during those times.”

The two women said they have built an excellent personal and professional relationship based on mutual respect. Kress called Aduddell “powerhouse” as a role model, and the sentiment is mutual. “If your kids aren’t with you, you want them with Steph and her husband,” Kress said.

The workshops are led by volunteers who also help and participate.

Intern Audrey Measer, a graduate of Bainbridge High School and senior at Gonzaga University, also joins Be Bold Be Brave. Measer, who specializes in public relations, said she was lucky to find Be Bold Be Brave.

“It took me about five minutes to know it was really special,” Measer said. “I want to spend time communicating with these two women and my home community.”

To register, visit Another workshop for high school girls, “Be Boundless”, will take place on October 23, followed by “Rising Strong” for middle school girls on November 6 and “Safe in the City” for adult women on November 13.

Students get together to write challenges on their boards before learning how to solve them – a popular activity in the workshops. (Photo provided)

Each workshop takes place at the Pacific Fusion Martial Arts on Bainbridge Island.  (Photo provided)

Each workshop takes place at the Pacific Fusion Martial Arts on Bainbridge Island. (Photo provided)

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