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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Train to choose your actions

This is a follow up to my last post (State of awareness). It was brought to my attention (thanks Marc for all your help, and thanks Josh for speaking up) that I was missing a great teaching point. I had used that particular example because paying attention to what and who is around you is very very important.

The point I was missing is that the behavior of the lady in question was not about not paying attention. She was very aware of what she was doing. She was covert aggressive, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a bully pretending to be clueless.

First of all let’s look at it from her standpoint. Acting like this is a behavior that will attract anger and yes, violence against you. So if you are looking for personal safety, you may want to choose a behavior that is not going to make people want to stuff you in the meat locker. Violence happens in places and also in situations.

The other point of view is the receiving end. You have to realize that this behavior is the same of a bully. What is a bully? It is a person who forces his or her way aggressively or by intimidation, someone who forces you to do what they want. This is exactly what she did. She was forcing people to get out of her way and give her priority. If one does this accidently once or twice, it is not necessarily being a bully. It could be inattention. But this lady did this consistently throughout her entire shopping trip.

Most women are born with the “be polite gene”. We have been known to apologize for things we should never apologize for, for excusing behaviors that should be condemned. If you don’t believe this read “Betrayed by the Angel” by Debra Anne Davis


You need to recognize this behavior as that of a bully. If you learn to give in to a bully at this level, you will have trained your mind to give in to bullying period. When a big guy comes around and tries to intimidate you into getting into his car, or trying to get into your home, you will give in because that is what you trained yourself to do.

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

-Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC

So how do you stand up to this? First you need to see this behavior, not as powerful but as an act of selfishness and weakness. Instead of stirring anger this should stir pity and maybe even disgust. You need to see that be best power you have over this situation is choosing to have self control. But you “chose” this action it was not forced upon you. And yes, self control IS an action. Throwing canned goods and eggs, yelling and screaming at her are also actions, much less appropriate though. The most important part is that you are recognizing the fact that someone is trying to bully you and you are choosing self control. You are not forced into passivity. Self control is a very active response. It carries through body language, facial language. It has that stage presence we talked about a while back. You are basically sending the vibes of “I am aware of what you are doing and if you don’t stop I am prepare to carry it to a whole other dimension”. If you get used to choosing your responses, when someone is trying to attack you, kidnap you, come into your home uninvited, you will be trained to chose the proper response and not wait for someone to choose it for you. First of all an attacker will know you are not a weak prey; it’s their job to know this. They will probably move to another more appropriate prey. If they still choose to attack you will be a better position to defend yourself, you will be prepared not one step behind.

This is still working on awareness, awareness of behavior and proper choices.

If you don't become aware of small decisions that direct your actions you won't be able to see when you're drifting into dangerous territory. And this means not only with self-defense, but jobs, our relationships, marriage and with your kids. Looking at the rude bitch and saying to yourself "I know what you are doing and choose not to react. Not because I'm scared, but because you aren't worth it"

-Marc MacYoung

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I was at the grocery store the other day getting the supplies for a proper Thanksgiving feast. Going through the aisles gathering all the items on the list, I came across a lady who apparently was extremely intent on her shopping trip. So intent was she that she “drove” 3 people out of their intended course and straight into canned goods, and yet she noticed nothing. She was looking for something, going forward, pulling back, moving forward again, then speeding in another direction, meanwhile leaving a trail of angry people waiting to get through or side stepping to avoid getting run over. I followed her for a while out of pure curiosity and astonishment. She was completely clueless of what she was doing. Talk about NOT being aware of your surroundings. I could have easily stolen her purse, picked her pockets clean, or attack her without her even noticing before it was too late to do any damage control. I don’t think she would have noticed being stabbed until she reached her car!!!

OK, I totally understand being very focused and intent on getting a job done. But she was in a public place, surrounded by people she did not know!!! Being this blatantly unaware of the world around her is not something she could/would have been able to turn on and off. This complete disregard of your surrounding is a habit. A habit is something you fall back onto without thinking or when you are tired or when you are pre-occupied.

If you are going to be in a public place you need to raise your level of awareness and keep it raised the entire time. If you get used to being in what you think of as “safe places” and not pay attention, this is what you will revert to when you go to any public locations. A familiar place does not necessarily equate a safe place. And what makes you think that the grocery store is a safe place anyway? Just because nothing has ever happened to you before does not mean that you will not get your purse/wallet stolen? Do you know how easy you are making it for people to help themselves to your belongings? Why not just put a welcome mat or just hand them your money? The number one place women are abducted from or attacked is grocery store parking lots.

You need to make a habit of raising your level of awareness wherever you go. I am not talking about being paranoid and afraid of everything around you but about knowing who and what’s around you. Predators are professionals, they WILL notice when you pay attention. They are looking for a much more clueless victim, one they can take by surprise.

Make it a game if you need to in the beginning. Play spy. Pretend you are on a mission and take mental notes. See what’s out of place, out of the ordinary. Just a quick glance up and down is all you need to let a professional know that you are on to him. Check for hands, the possible bulge of a hidden weapon, for unusual behavior. Do this for 21 days and it will become a habit.

Take your safety into your own hands and teach your children to do the same.

Here is a real story of grocery store parking lot.


But again, like I previously said, don’t be paranoid, be alert.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prevention or damage control?

Early morning in Minnesota. Nothing like it to dish out a dose of reality sometimes. I woke up way too early for a Sunday morning. The dog had to go, you can’t argue with that. I am going out to grab the leash and unbeknownst to me it had apparently rained all night (yeah maybe I should watch the news, at least the weather once in a while). My covered porch was apparently covered in a very thin layer of ice. Yup you guessed, I took one step and went flying. I am very grateful for my falling down skills, it kept me from a serious injury. But I should have been more grateful my “paying attention to my surrounding” skills. The number one key to good self protection is to always make sure your surroundings are secure. Now a driveway, a road I would have checked before driving or walking onto it. But my covered porch?? Really?? So it rained sideways. Assuming is the mother of many a mistake. Assuming the environment is safe, assuming no one finds violence as disgusting as you do, assuming you are going to be able to react fast enough to defend yourself.

How many of you could close your eyes right now and describe what’s within 20 feet of you?

Like grandpa used to say “An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure”. Had I paid attention and notice a light glare on the roads, I would have stepped much more carefully and would not have had to rely on falling down skills and my husband’s healing chiropractic skills. You should always know what’s around you, what you are about to walk into or through, the environment, the people. Take notice. It may save you a lot of pain or headaches in the future. It is much easier to take a few extra minutes to prevent bad things from happening then to not pay attention and have to do damage control afterward.

Now I have a date with an ice pack. Enjoy your Sunday. Peace out

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tip Of The Day

If you want to practice your self defense skills, put yourself in a situation where you need to use them. On the other hand if you enjoy safety, stay away from trouble.
It's one of the laws of nature that the stupid usually remove themselves from the gene pool.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tip Of The Day

When going through airport customs and you are asked "do you have any firearms with you?" do not reply "what do you need?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Kasey’s blog “Commando Style Training” made me think. Now there’s the mark of a great teacher, to make you think (Re: “Find A good teacher” )

He was discussing people praying on your fantasies by teaching you how to be a special op guy, but ingraining bad habits since it is NOT our job to run toward danger (unless you are in LE). It’s our duty to run toward safety. Training for show instead of for reality. How many martial arts teacher are doing the same thing. They are promoting their school with “Learn self defense through … (insert any random style martial arts).” But they are not adapting what they teach toward real life violence. They teach their katas, their techniques and create violent situations to adapt to their teachings. Anyone else sees something flawed here? I call it giving an answer without knowing what the question is.

The definition or “martial” is:of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior”. I understand that teachers do not want their students injured but this does not mean they can dumb their teachings down. There are ways to keep things safe and real. Like Rory so eloquently states, the purpose of those techniques should be to maim or kill, of course if you train “realistically”, people would end up in the hospital every night. You can train with power against a bag or a partner that holds a shield or is suited up appropriately. You can practice for accuracy against a partner by slowing things down but still using intent in your movement. So many schools I have seen teach their students to make absolutely no contact, not even with a bag or a shield. What do you get when you have this? No injuries in the dojo? No students being afraid to get hit or hurt? Yes you do have that. But you have other things as well. First you have students who do not know how to strike properly. Ever hit a bag hard with your wrist bent? Hurts doesn’t it? How do you learn to correct it if you are always doing it wrong and suffer no consequences in the process. Second, you are teaching your students to fail. If you always miss the mark, you will miss the mark under stress. Third, your students are missing an opportunity to know what it feels like to receive a strike. If the first time you experience getting hit is during a real life violent encounter, I pretty well guarantee it will make your brain freeze. “Ouch, this hurt...what just happened?... No… wait …now I am in the hospital because I took too long to react”… when what you should be thinking is “Is this the best you got A..hole… my buddies hit me harder than that”.

Teachers… are you setting up your students to fail to make things run smoother in the dojo? Will you be able to live with yourself if they get hurt using the poor teachings they have received from you?

Students…. Do you want to be in a school that worries more about law suits than ingraining good habits?

If all you are interested in is dance or gymnastic, by all means take those classes. They are great… fun… good exercises. But do not delude yourself in calling them “self defense”. There is a LOT more to self preservation than throwing a punch or a kick, especially a bad one.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Monkey Braining

Anyone who has attended one of Marc or Rory’s class or read their books, has learned about the “Monkey Brain”

For those of you who have not, the “Monkey Brain” is the limbic system part of your brain.

The limbic system is the collective name for structures in the human brain involved in emotion, motivation, and emotional association with memory. Emotions and feelings, like wrath, fright, passion, love, hate, joy and sadness, are mammalian inventions, that originate in the limbic system.

Strong emotions or threats to your well being will make your Monkey Brain take over your Neocortex aka your Thinking Brain. This takes priority over any kind of thoughts until you have found a proper response to the threat or what you perceive to be a threat. In a life endangering situation, this is a good thing as it may save your life. In a lesser threatening situation, aka someone did something that you perceive as insulting or damaging to your feelings, the lack of being able to use your thinking brain can prove to be a problem as it can make you react in irrational way. That’s why you sometimes see grown men literally acting like apes. I am sure you have all been the witness to this display: puffing of the chest, wild gesturing, excited loud tone of voice, facial grimace, throwing stuff. Someone in their Monkey Brain is only concerned about the “ME”. If the other person gets into their Monkey Brain as well, the escalation will keep going into a fight until one of them backs down, walks away or someone breaks them apart. This is not meant to be a life threatening fight, more like 2 rams fighting and butting heads. But when things get out of control one can never predict how they will end.

This is typically very much of a male behavior. But women will do this as well

Here is a video of 2 women showing a text book example of Monkey Brain behavior escalating into a fight . Study it and see how things could have went differently. How would YOU have handled the situation.

And guys, contrary to popular beliefs, walking away from someone displaying this type of behavior will NOT make you look like less of a man. It makes you look intelligent and in control… much sexier in most women’s book. If you ever date a woman who pushes you into this type of behavior… drop her like a bad habit.

Fighting on a bus

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The world is your dojo*

Last week, anyone in Minnesota can attest to the wonderful weather: rain, snow and wind advisory… the good stuff. With weather like this, driving down the road can be hazardous as the blustery wind blows you all over the place. Here I am, going down the highway, gripping my steering wheel like it was the last lifeboat on the Titanic. It is tiring and nerve-racking. I am totally focused on holding the wheel tight so I don’t get shoved in the ditch or onto other cars. I am holding on so tight that every little wind gust makes me overly react, turning a big wind gust into an enormous waver of my car. Then I heard this little voice in my head ….“The world is your dojo*”. Hmmm… how can I apply my skills to this? Then Rory’s awesome blindfold drill came to mind. OK the principles of Rory’s blindfold drill…. that sounds better since I am definitely not driving blindfolded. So I loosened my grip on the wheel, relaxed and tried to “feel” the motion wind blowing me around. Instead of anticipating the gush, I let it happen and sorta ride the wave. Glory be, it worked! I am not only a lot more relaxed and at ease, I can feel the wind blowing me around a lot sooner than I did before and thus only needing to make a very slight adjustment. I am not getting blown all over the road. I am actually enjoying the drive now. I am zooming by all the other stressed out drivers, still having a death grip on their steering wheel. My car is going straight as an arrow, like the wind barely even affected me. I got home feeling a lot more relaxed and happy then the first drive I had in this weather.

Amazing how fighting principles can apply to mundane tasks. And if being relaxed and calm can make such a difference in a stressful driving situation, how much more can it apply to a stressful violent encounter. In a relaxed state you can actually feel what is really going on. Your eyes can not only deceive you, they are slow to relay the message to your brain. And being calm keeps you from going into the flight and fight response and all the ensuing effects attached with it (tunnel vision, loss of hearing, decreased fine motor skills, increased heart rate, loss of focus and cognitive abilities).

So stay cool, stay calm…. and breeze through your day.

*dojo = martial arts training hall

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


"One of the biggest paradoxes about de-escalation and violence prevention is the willingness to commit sincere violence often means you don’t have to.

If you convey to him that you know what the stakes are and you’re willing to go there (physical violence) just as fast as he is, then it is NOT safe for him to attack."

-K. Keckeisen

Monday, November 1, 2010

TV interview

We had an interview on KARE 11 Showcase Minnesota today. It was short but we were able to share the core of our self defense class.
You can go take a look-see here: