Who We Are

Culture of Safety founders Erin (Culture of Safety is a Chicago-based (Rogers Park, to be exact) small business.  We are woman/non-binary and queer-owned, and were founded in May 2019 to offer empowerment-based violence prevention trainings.   Examples of the trainings we offer for adults are empowerment self-defense, bystander intervention, and workplace safety.  We also offer classes for young people, such as self-defense & bullying prevention for kids, youth, and teens in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. 

In June of 2020, during a global pandemic, we created Jin Sei Ryu Chicago to offer karate training, offering classes first online and then outdoors in nearby Warren Park.   

In August of 2022, we opened our storefront at 6961 N. Clark, between Morse and Lunt Avenues.

We serve individuals in public classes in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.  We also work with small businesses, large corporations, schools and educational facilities (K – 12 and higher education), nonprofit organizations, and private groups.  Culture of Safety strives to live up to its name and help our clients create a culture of safety and mutual respect in their environments, and to help people know that they are powerful and capable of keeping themselves safe in whatever environment they find themselves in.

To find out more about our next public self-defense class, check out the Take a Self-Defense Class page.  For more information on the martial arts program, see Jin Sei Ryu KarateKarate for Kids and  Karate Classes for Adults & Teens.  If you’d like to bring us to your office, school, or community group, drop us a line using the form below!

About the Founders

Kyren E. Epperson, PhD, LMT, AOBTA-CP (they/them) has been teaching empowerment-based violence prevention since 2012, and has been training in karate since 2011 and teaching since 2013.  In addition, Dr. Epperson has been practicing meditation and mindfulness since they were a child, and has been teaching it in various forms for many years.  They often introduce short guided meditations into their self-defense teaching as a way of helping their students re-regulate their nervous systems.  Kyren is especially skilled in working with children, youth, and teens, and with the trans community.  Senpai Kyren is a third-degree black belt in Jin Sei Ryu Karate-Do, and has also practiced Aikido, Tai Chi, Kickboxing, and fencing. They currently train in Jin Sei Ryu karate-do under the instruction of Kancho Ino Maquirang and Sei Shihan Mel Ramsey. They teach meditation as part of the Samatha Foundation of North America. They are also a certified Shiatsu Bodywork therapist, specializing in bodywork for LGBTQIA+ folks and trauma survivors. Kyren routinely incorporates their deep understanding about the body and its healthy movements in all of their classes.   Learn more about their Shiatsu practice or book an appointment.

Kyren and Amy laughing together
Amy’s the one on the right.

Amy L. E. Jones, LSW (she/they) is a licensed social worker and a 4th-degree black belt.  She has been teaching empowerment-based violence prevention since 2003.  Amy finished her MSW and became licensed in Illinois in 2013, having pursued the degree in order to deepen her knowledge about violence and the effects of trauma in people’s lives in order to be a more effective instructor.  Recognizing that sexuality education is an important component of sexual violence prevention, Amy received training in the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality curriculum in early 2020.  Since then, she has facilitated OWL trainings for middle schoolers with Oak Park OWL, and independently at The Children’s School (also in Oak Park).    Amy has taught self-defense workshops for people with cognitive, sensory, and mobility impairments; social workers and other helping professionals, insecurely-housed teens and young adults, older adults, the LGBTQI+ community, and college students. She currently trains in Jin Sei Ryu karate-do under the instruction of Kancho Ino Maquirang and Shuseki Shihan Mel Ramsey. She serves as co-chair of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF).


Our certifications and experience

Amy and Kyren collectively have over 30 years of experience in the field of Empowerment-based self-defense, and are both black belts in Jin Sei Ryu Karate-Do. We have extensive experience working in a variety of settings and with diverse groups.  All of our trainings are trauma-informed and strive to be culturally humble.  Kyren and Amy are happy to tailor trainings to the specific needs of the clients they serve.

Both Amy and Kyren have current nationally-recognized certifications in the following areas:


Contact Us

Call or Text: (847) 790-4226