A video reportback from our J17 Lightning Bolt training with teachers from Girl Army.

Transcript and Girl Army Solidarity Statement below.


[Setting: a public park in Oakland, California, on an early morning]

Trainer 1: [Pulling wrist grab on Trainer 2] Come on, come with me! Come to my car!

Trainer 2: No! No! NO! [executes escape and throw]

Students: [Gasps and laughter]

[Cut to single person’s face]

Narrator: So even though a public self defense training is just one small piece of the personal and political self and community defense that we’re gonna need to do in the coming Trump era, it was a great time building concrete skills and building a sense of community, that we’re gonna be the ones protecting one another — not the police, and not the state apparatus.

[Back to morning training in the park]

Student 1: [Punching a mat held by Trainer 1] NO! NO! NO!

Students: [Cheering, encouraging]

Student 2: [Hands her baby off to another student, to complete the hammer-punching exercise] NO! NO!

[New setting: inside a house]

Student 1: We’re demonstrating a wrist escape that we learned the other day from Girl Army.

Narrator: Great.

Student 1 + Student 3: [Demonstrate wrist escape, joyful]

Narrator: Yeah, knifing! Knifing with the knife side of the hand!

[Closing info, photo of 6-month-old student from the training]




January 20th, 2017

We, the members of Girl Army, affirm our collective solidarity with organizing efforts that resist the epidemic of fascism, which threatens our communities and our lives. We declare our commitment to the practice of mutual aid and creative collaboration in the face of this threat.

For 21 years, Girl Army has worked to instill the principles of agency, self-determination, and consent into daily life. In a time where these principles are under attack, the need for community and self-defense is both deep and urgent. Therefore, we promise to redouble our efforts to provide tools and hold a space of peer learning, safety, and awareness that will grow wider and more resilient with every workshop, training, and collaborative endeavor.

To our students and to all those laboring under the weight of racism, transmisogyny, heterosexism, misogyny, ableism, and classism: you are always worth defending. You have the right and the power to defend yourself. You have the right to seek safety from the many forms of violence that you encounter– at work, at home, in the streets.

As a movement there is much we can learn from one another. We believe empowerment comes from within: our students already have the strength to be self-directed and self-determined when it comes time to fight. We believe our community and this movement exemplify that same essential perseverance, and that is that spirit in which we hope to serve.

Yours in struggle,
Girl Army Self Defense Collective, Oakland CA