What do organizations like Girl Scouts of America, TRIO of South Florida, C.O.P.E. of South Florida, and the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Society – University of Miami branch have in common? They, along with a quickly growing list of local and National student and family organizations, are seeking out the ASSERT Empowerment and Self Defense curricula to provide their participants an array programs, ranging from strictly instructional, to motivational, to self-defense based movement.
Created by Cat and Liz Fitzgerald, ASSERT – or Adrenaline Stress Strategic Emergency Response Training, is the ever-developing culmination of years of research, martial arts training, and, as they describe it, a deep disappointment in the majority of self-defense programs, their techniques, and their fear-based training.
“Over the years, the more programs I looked into, the more I came to realize that they are designed to treat women as powerless victims, teach children to fear, and mostly ignore men altogether,” says program co-creator Cat Fitzgerald. “I couldn’t find a single program that was treating women as strong, capable fighters, teaching children to find the strength and courage to live well, or even addressing the fact that men also need to learn self-defense. Not to mention that one was addressing the family as a unit that can work together to get out of any situation.”
His wife and program co-creator, Liz, tells us, “We decided to scrap everything we had ever seen, every program we’d ever been exposed to, and start from scratch. We also did that several times – as we discovered new information, we realized that other things had to be revised, renewed, updated, or tossed out altogether. We researched crime statistics, case studies, crime reporting, enlisted the help of mental health professionals, medical doctors, and law enforcement. What we found was enlightening to say the least, but what it helped us create is pretty revolutionary.”
What they created is a unique curriculum that covers much more than just the physical aspects of self-defense. Through ASSERT, many young men and women are learning healthy, powerful techniques to respect and listen to their fears, face their anxieties, prepare for the best and the worst, and live freer, more confident lives.
The Miami, Florida-based ASSERT Empowerment and Self Defense was established in 2004. Based on crime case studies, reporting, and statistics, victim services, law enforcement training, and nearly 40 years of martial arts practice, ASSERT offers a variety of certifications, ranging from Family and Personal Safety and Self-Empowerment to Law Enforcement and Protection Services Assault/ Defense Tactics and Program Instruction. The program's founders have trained a wide range of students, from Elementary, Middle and High School-aged children and families thru FBI, DEA, and top military components.