Most of my community work centers around LGBT youth and involves either literacy or self defense. For about four years, I have directed Supernova, a martial arts dojo at the LA Gay Lesbian Center as part of their LifeWorks program. Here are our core assumptions:
1. We come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Good health is different for everyone and we all have different strengths. Although physical training is rewarding and can give one a greater range of options, every one of us has the right to learn to protect hirself more effectively in hir current physical, mental, and spiritual condition.
2. As queer, we face a different subset of threats, dangers, and attacks. We will specialize in addressing these situations, including interactions with law enforcement and the legal system.
3. For many reasons, physical confrontation is a last resort. Avoidance and negotiation must be front-line defenses. However, it is better to empirically understand physical confrontation because it is sometimes unavoidable.
4. We assume the attacker or attackers are attacking us because they perceive us to be weak, distracted, or “easy prey.” Therefore, we assume that the attacker is stronger than we are and may have surprised us. That is not a failure; that is life.
5. We may not want to be “fighters” or full-time martial artists. While some of us may focus on martial arts, our practice is meant to be make our existing lives better, not change our lives out of hand.
6. Many of us have previous and traumatic experience with violence. We will show each other compassion.
7. Many of us may have no experience or traumatic experiences with classrooms, systems of learning, and spaces where there is authority and a common code of behavior. We will show each other understanding.
8. Many of us will not have had previous encouragement or experience honing and training our bodies. We will show each other patience.
9. We can become amazing martial artists and people not in spite of, but because of the paths we have traveled. We will never seek to overwrite or invalidate our pasts. Instead, we will view them as complicated gifts, sometimes frustrating or terrifying, but always irreplaceable gifts. We will show each other empathy.
10. We are healthier, more vibrant, and safer working together than apart. We will show each other community and family.