Using Time to YOUR Advantage with Brain Processing – Erik Kondo

The ability to manipulate time is the ultimate super power. The benefits of time travel are obvious. So too is having the capability to slow time down and dodge bullets Matrix style. If you can control time, you will always be faster than your opponent. This advantage would virtually guarantee your victory in a physical contest. But let’s face it, you can’t control time. But you can optimize the manner in which you use time.

You can optimize the use of time through efficient brain processing which allows you to move and think as fast and smoothly as possible. Just like a computer with a faster microprocessor, you can get more done and quicker.

Your brain can be thought of as having two systems. System I is the fast processing part of brain that doesn’t think on a cognitive level. It processes movement, touch, and balance and is based, in part, around your Cerebellum. System II is the slow processing part of your brain that thinks, strategizes and is based around your Prefrontal Cortex. Most complex tasks such as human physical performance and competitions require both System I and System II utilization. The trick is to deconstruct these tasks so they are accomplished in the most efficient manner by your utilization of System I and System II.

As an analogy, imagine you have two friends Flash and Geeky. Flash moves very fast, but he can only do certain tasks and follow known patterns. Geeky on the other hand, moves slow, but his actions are creative and strategic. Your job is to locate a needle in a haystack. One method would be to divide the haystack in half and have Flash and Geeky sift through their respective piles. A more effective method would be to have Geeky devise a clever searching strategy that both he and Flash could implement.

When it comes to optimizing your overall task processing, your System II devises a plan of action that your System I is able to execute for certain aspects of the task.

Let’s examine juggling three balls as a complex task to be accomplished. If you pick up three balls and attempt to juggle without prior experience, you will fail. You will not know how to get started other than to throw the balls up in the air. No pattern will emerge. There is nothing instinctive about the standard three ball juggling pattern.

As an aside, you can learn to juggle two balls in one hand by doing nothing other than practicing. That is because it is intuitively obvious how to do it. You just need practice. Rock climbing is the same. Put someone in front of a rock face (not too hard) and he or she can just start climbing. She may be technically weak, but she can get started. The same goes for fighting. Emotions aside, anyone can physically fight without training. He or she may fight poorly, but he can do it.

In order to juggle, your System II must discover and learn the three ball juggling pattern. Once you intellectually understand the pattern, you still must implement it on a physical level. You will throw the balls up in the air as before, and they will still fall to the ground. It will appear to you that you have no time to throw, catch, throw, and repeat the pattern. You will feel rushed and overwhelmed. The problem is that your System II processing is too slow to be able to juggle three balls. And your System I has not had enough pattern training/repetitions/practice to take over primary processing control. Therefore, if you are like most people, you decide that juggling is too hard to learn and you quit.

But if you are determined to persist, you need a strategy for success. In the beginning, you need to slow down and reduce the inputs to your System II to a manageable level. You start with one ball. Your System II can handle one ball with ease. You have plenty of time to throw and catch back and forth. You add a second ball. Now it seems that you have less time to respond. The balls seem to move faster (they don’t). Two balls results as many throws and catches (inputs) as your System II can handle.

The more you practice, the more your System I will become involved in the processing. As System I builds proficiency and takes over processing from System II, you will feel as if you have more time. You throw and catch without thinking about the movements. They just happen. It seems as if the balls slow down. Eventually, you will notice that you have time to throw a third ball into the pattern. But once the 3rd ball is in play, you will feel rushed again.

At this point, your System I doesn’t know how to process the three ball pattern. Your System II must guide the pattern which slows down the overall processing. Hence, your feeling of having no time. The more you practice, the more System I processes and the less System II processes. With enough training and repetitions, you will be able to juggle three balls and feel as through you have plenty of time. When System I is primarily processing, System II is available to focus on other tasks such as observation of your surroundings, talking, planning future movements/tricks and so forth.

Now imagine that the processing doesn’t involve juggling. The task to be performed is hand-to-hand/stick/knife/gun fighting. The overall concept is the same. The more pattern movements processed by System I, the more time you feel is available for higher level System II cognitive tasks. Time seems to have slowed down for you (It hasn’t). But you have optimized your brain processing and resulting performance.

When competing directly against another person(s), you want to reverse to happen to him or her. You want to degrade his performance. You want him to feel as if time has sped up, and that he has no time to think or act. You want his System II processing to be overwhelmed. You want him to feel like you did when you first tried to juggle three balls. To want him to give up.

Your goal is to force him out of fast System I processing into slow System II processing. You can accomplish this goal in multiple ways. Here are a few:

  1. You change the movement pattern to an area that the other person’s System I is unable to handle, but your System I is able to handle.
  2. You put your opponent in an emotional state that interferes with his System I processing ability.
  3. You force him to “think” by making him uncertain, hesitant, or fearful. You want his System II to second guess his System I, thus degrading his overall efficiency.

The bottom line is that accomplishing complex tasks effectively requires prior brain training and maintaining optimal brain processing in real time. While you can’t manipulate the actual passing of time, you can still use time to your advantage.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: Why Traditional Self-defense Instruction is outdated – Erik Kondo

The most commonly held view of a self-defense situation involves an “evil” attacker assaulting an innocent victim. As a result, the majority of self-defense instruction is based on the following two fundamental beliefs:
1. If you are able to inform people about the existence of threats to their personal safety, this information will then make them more “aware” such that they will be able to identify and avoid these threats.
2. If you teach people basic physical defense skills, they can apply these skills for physical defense in the event their awareness and avoidance fails.
In theory, these two steps seem logical and make sense. But they fail to take into consideration that the primary factor for maintaining personal safety is the ability to execute good judgment and make critical decisions. These skills are developed through experience, and a process of observation, trial and error, and evaluation.
As a practical and statistical matter, the average person is exposed to very few incidents of actual face to face violence in their daily lives. They don’t see, hear, or speak about “evil” incidents or personal safety threats in more than a passing manner. As a result, they don’t really think about “evil” or self-defense scenarios.
In fact, “evil” incidents or violent assaults are commonly described as “the unthinkable”. Thus, they do not develop the judgment and critical thinking skills necessary in a time of personal danger.
As long as the image of self-defense and personal safety conjures up horrible and “unthinkable” situations, people will tend to not think about the subject regardless of any well intentioned attempts to make them more “aware”. It is not enough to be told about the importance of “awareness”. People need to be aware of “how to actually respond” to individual threats and that requires judgment.
The solution is for people to see, hear, speak, and ultimately think about the fundamental concepts of self-defense as Violence Dynamics with its roots in common everyday incidents and situations. And to think about how these concepts apply to themselves and to others in terms of social confrontations and disputes, not just in terms of “unthinkable” asocial incidents. This process will enable them to develop their judgment and critical thinking abilities.
These fundamental concepts of Violence Dynamics are that:
a. Human interactions are either social, asocial, or a complex mixture of the two.
b. Violence is used as a “tool” in both social and asocial interactions.
c. What works for dealing with social violence will not necessarily work for asocial violence and vice-versa.
d. The majority of violence is social in nature. Therefore, it involves a social dynamic that is the result of the intentions, actions, and responses of all the parties involved.
Once people are able to “see” these elements of Violence Dynamics in many of life’s relationships and common confrontations, they will be able to begin developing their self-defense judgment and critical thinking abilities. The “New” self-defense which includes Violence Dynamics is intended to do just that.

Think You Know How to Stop School Shootings? Think Again! – Erik Kondo

School shooting are a problem. Solving this problem requires some type of approach. Here are some commonly discussed and debated proposed solutions in no particular order:

  • Pass stricter gun laws making it more difficult for potential shooters to obtain high powered weapons.
  • Pass stricter laws on gun magazines making it more difficult for shooters to kill so many people.
  • Arm teachers with guns so they can fire back at the shooter.
  • Pass stricter background checks to make it more difficult for potential shooters to obtain weapons.
  • Make it easier to legally take weapons away from people who are deemed to be mentally ill or dangerous.
  • Train students on how to respond to active shooter situations.
  • Provide students with bulletproof backpacks.
  • Make schools more secure from unauthorized entry.
  • Make classrooms more secure from attack.
  • Eliminate male aggression in society.
  • Provide more resources for mental health.
  • Parents provide more discipline for their children.
  • Identify potential school shooters through tips.
  • Put metal detectors in school entryways.
  • Install more security cameras and monitoring equipment.
  • Provide teachers with Less-than-Lethal weapons such as tasers, rubber bullets, bean bag shotguns, chemical sprays, etc.
  • Teach students how to fight back against active shooters.
  • Enact stricter punishment such as the death penalty for school shooters.
  • Put mobile bulletproof backboards in the classrooms for students to hide behind.
  • Instil children with more family values and morals.
  • Stop glorifying violence in TV, movies, video games, and the media.

There are three Primary Methods to deal with a self-defense problem. Each one can be used separately or in combination with the others.

  1. Stop or limit a person’s Intent to do harm. Where Intent is defined as desire or motivation or ill intent to do harm.
  2. Stop or limit a person’s Means to do harm. Where Means is the ability or capability to do harm.
  3. Stop or limit a person’s Opportunity to do harm. Where Opportunity is the circumstances in which it is possible to do harm.

A person requires all three to cause harm. Therefore, stopping or limiting one Primary Method will stop or limit the harm.

All the above listed individual solutions fall into one or more of these three Primary Methods.

Each one of the three Primary Methods can be performed in one or more of three-time frames of:

1. Prevention (before the event),
 Intervention (during the event), and
 Mitigation (after the event) with varying degree of effectiveness depending upon the circumstances.

Therefore, there are nine Primary Method Time Phases to deal with school shootings.

There are Three Viewpoints to view school shootings:

  1. As a Systemic Problem where school shootings are the result of widespread societal and cultural factors.
  2. As a Situational Problem where school shootings are the result of a certain confluence of factors on a situational basis.
  3. As a Personal Problem where school shootings are the result of individual factors of the person(s) involved.

Therefore, the nine Primary Method Time Phases can be viewed from one or more of these Three Viewpoints. That makes for a total of twenty-seven (3 x 3 x 3) categories of different approaches for dealing with school shootings. Each of these categories of approaches comes with its own set of advantages, disadvantages, assumptions, truths, and falsehoods. In other words, for every approach that is effective, there can be twenty-six examples of where this approach doesn’t apply. Given the complete lack of unbiased data, evidence, and expertise on the subject due to the relatively low number of incidents, people select approaches based on their pre-existing favorite solution.

  • If you hate guns, you will say that gun control is the solution.
  • If you love guns, you will say more guns is the solution.
  • If you are for Capital punishment, you will say that the death penalty is the solution.
  • If you think that male aggression in a problem in society, you will say that eliminating male aggression is the solution.
  • If you think mental illness is a problem in society, you will say that more mental health resources are the solution.
  • If you manufacture bulletproof products, you will say that more bulletproof products in the classroom is the solution.
  • If you think that kids are out of control, you will say the more parental discipline is the solution.
  • If you are in the business of teaching self-defense, you will say that more student/teacher training is the solution.
  • And so on.

And every one of you will be correct in some manner AND incorrect in some other manner. For every example of why your pet solution will work, there are likely to be more examples of why your pet solution will not work. There is also the fact that no school shooting is the same. Some are mass casualty events. Some are few casualty events. And some are threats and fights gone wrong. Therefore, an effective approach needs to also take into consideration the various types of school shootings.

There are tens of millions of students in the United States. There are tens of thousands of schools ranging from elementary schools to universities. Given the relatively few number of incidents over time, you have minimal data to base your solution on.  How do you know your solution will not make the problem worse?

Solving the problem of school shootings requires more than applying your pet ideological solution to this complex problem. Solving complex problems starts with open-minded thinking. If you think that you already know the answer, you are most likely wrong. if you really want to stop school shootings, stop promoting your ideology and start looking at the problem with an open mind. Otherwise, you are a part of the problem.


The Mark Hatmaker Interview Part II – Erik Kondo

Mark Hatmaker is one of our excellent contributors and a true professional, he is the author of numerous books and a highly respected practitioner. Mark is the founder of Extreme Self Protection, a company that compiles, analyses, and teaches unarmed combat methods. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

This should have appeared in the December issue but a disastrous computer crash plus very busy events leading up to Christmas caused me to miss a beat here, so here is part 2 and I hop[e you enjoy it. – Garry.

Based on your answers, it seems that your clients are all highly motivated and receive individualized attention and instruction.
How do you instruct less motivated people in a group setting?

MARK: Well, we’re not all motivated in all things. None of us. Personal example, if someone says to me “Hey Mark, I want you to make your way through all 55 volumes of The Loeb Classical Library” I say “Sir, yes sir!” Why do I jump in feet first to this Greek and Latin compendium? Because I want to, I am motivated to do so. Compare with “Mark I want you to sit down and watch yet another super-hero movie with me” and all you get from me is hemming and hawing and foot-dragging. It would take far less time to sit through another one of these than read the aforementioned volumes but the charm of grown men and women wearing costumes and beating up bad guys is lost on this adult. Millions (billions) enjoy these flicks, they win, me, I feel like I’m being punished-I have zero-motivation to view them.

As a coach I do not see it as my (our?) responsibilities to “sell” the athlete on why what we’re doing is good for them or the wise way to go. I always assume from the get-go that the athlete is attending because they are a hard-charger, if not in body yet, at least in mind. We are then a team and can work together.

I assume if hard-work and/or the brand of madness we dish out is not to an individual’s thinking they will move on and play elsewhere or at a different game altogether. Just as I don’t want to sit through more adults-in-tights movies against my will, I do not want to force anyone to train as we do-I allow the natural peel-off or culling to occur.

To assist this choice we use a buy-in, ante up, earn your rounds protocol. Do the conditioning with us, do the necessary athletic work with us and you’ve proven that you want to be there.  Then, and only then do we start handing out the candy, so to speak.

If someone chooses not to ante up or sandbags the conditioning we have a nice conversation about what it is they really want-if it ain’t this, we scoot them off the mat and allow them to find what it is they really want to do and not force what we do on them. At the same time this insures that a non-earnest individual will not drag the attitudinal level of the team down.

Nobody minds working with a hard-charger no matter their skill or current conditioning level, but, come on, really, who enjoys coddling anyone along. The behavior already indicates that they may simply may not want to be there-have the polite conversation and allow them the liberty to ante up and join the team (if that’s what they really want) or to move on and find what moves them in life.

I see this approach as a courtesy. Life’s too short to focus on the unwilling. Focus your energies and attention on the can-do hard-chargers at hand, don’t make the unwilling watch your super-hero movie or read your pretentious books.

Problems: Systemic, Situational, Personal – Erik Kondo

Part I

If you want to find a Solution to a Problem, you need to understand the Problem. That means you need to determine what type of problem you are trying to solve. Problems can be primarily Systemic, Situational, Personal, and/or any combination thereof.

A Systemic problem is created by factors that are structural and inherent to the overall system in question. For example, each year in the U.S. approximately 30,000 people die in automobile accidents. These deaths are systemic to the US Driving System and present a Systemic Problem. A Systemic Solution to this Problem will reduce the overall rate of annual deaths. For example, the use of airbags in automobiles is a Systemic Solution that reduced the rate of driving fatalities and serious injuries.

A Systemic Solution may inadvertently cause Situational Problems. For example, airbags that inflate and prevent drivers from exiting the vehicle in water crashes are a Situational Problem that is increased by this Systemic Solution. Situational Problems result from similar circumstances and are a subset of the overall Systemic Problem. A Situational Solution to this Problem would be a means to deflate the airbag rapidly after a crash.

A Personal Problem is the result of primary Personal factors. A person who is a consistently poor driver is more likely to be injured or killed in a driving accident regardless of having an airbag. When the poor driving is the result of drinking and many people do it on a regular basis, it becomes a Systemic Problem. A person who only drinks and drives when other people around him or her consumes alcohol, has a Situational Problem.

Real world problems are made up of factors that are Systemic, Situational, and Personal making solutions difficult to determine. In addition, how a problem is described depends on the viewpoint of the person looking at the Problem. Since solving significant societal problems requires the cooperation of many people, it is important that there is a common language to describe the problems, solutions, and the factors involved.

In other words, an effective Systemic solution to a Systemic problem may be an ineffective Personal solution to a related Personal problem. An effective Personal solution to a Personal problem may be an ineffective Situational solution to a related Situational problem. An effective Situational solution to a Situational problem may be an ineffective Systemic solution to a Systemic problem and so forth. Difficulty arises when people are all talking about different type of problems and different types of solutions, yet they think they are describing a singular problem with a singular solution.

Another way to think of the labels is that Top-Down Problem Solving is a way of focusing on a Systemic problem that effects people. Whereas Bottom-Up Problem Solving starts with focusing on people’s Personal problems. Regardless of the exact terminology used, it is important to recognize that a problem can be viewed in multiple ways and so can its solution.

Bullying, sexual harassment, mass shootings, youth violence, domestic violence, police shootings, rape, robbery, etc. These are all problems in society that create a huge amount of arguing and debate over what the problems and solutions are and are not. But what percentage of the time are the people who are arguing actually focusing on the same thing?

The Mark Hatmaker Interview Part I – Erik Kondo

Mark Hatmaker is one of our excellent contributors and a true professional, he is the author of numerous books and a highly respected practitioner. Mark is the founder of Extreme Self Protection, a company that compiles, analyses, and teaches unarmed combat methods. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. – Garry.

ERIK: I read an interview with you by Richard Dimitri where you talk the concepts of randomness and complex systems as opposed to set systems, fixed curriculum, and dogmatic answers in domains in relation to Self-Protection and more.

I view a Domain as an environment where specific rules, factors, and variables apply. For example, a biker bar in Texas is a Domain which differs from a college bar frequented by MIT students which is another Domain. Both of these Domains are bars, yet the individual “rules” of behavior differ and so do the consequences of breaking the rules.

I view set systems, fixed curriculum, and dogmatic answers as Closed Systems that are designed to “work” in a specific Domain under certain predefined variables. A Domain can also be a dojo or a martial arts competition.

A Closed System doesn’t take into consideration differing Domains, and thus provides a static (fixed) “solution” to a given “problem”. For example, if someone does X, you do Y, regardless of the Domain (environment) you are in.

I define Closed Systems that correspond to Simple Domains (few variables and factors to consider) to be Simplistic Systems.

The opposite of a Simplistic System is a Complex System. A Complex System is open to change and constantly evolving. It corresponds to a Complex Domain with many variables and factors including randomness to consider.

In terms of Self-Protection, applying a Simplistic System solution to a Complex Domain problem can have disastrous consequences.

My question is: How would you relate what I have just described in terms of your own views on Systems and Domains?

MARK: Good question, Erik. Before I get started, to make sure we’re on the same page with my idiosyncratic phrasing.  I use the term “environment” for differing physical surroundings (the physical terrain indoors or out), “culture” for the human element or “attitude” of the environment, and “domain” to refer to fields of knowledge (biology and physics being two separate domains within the overall schema of science).

In your given bar example I would assess the given environment (exits, improvised weapons, etc.), allow the culture to determine my level of presumed readiness (me being less heightened in the MIT culture and a bit more cautious in the biker bar-with no slight to bikers or MIT students, simply playing to type for our discussion-rightly or wrongly.)

My curious use of the term domain will not apply here.

In a perfect world, I will have already presented myself with a myriad of potential self-protection tactics that I have drilled in isolation-that would be my nod to complexity. But this skill set means nothing without culling the tactical herd, so to speak.

After the complex drill sets educated in sterile conditions I would then have placed myself (and clientele) through a series of chaos drills we call The Outer Limits (60+ drills before overlays take it into the 100’s). We allow the drills to “set the personally tailored curriculum.”

We have found, that The Outer Limits allows each individual to strip the excess chaff/baggage of learned tactics down to what will actually emerge for each given individual, this culling usually manifests in seeing two heaping handfuls of go-to tactics idiosyncratically “forced” onto each individual. That is, what is my go-to may not be yours and vice versa.

Once we have simplified the complex and sterile we continue the drill sets to see how often we can make this culled arsenal apply and manifest in an ever growing variety of environments and cultures.

In a nutshell, we drill complexity at the outset to get to simplicity that has a high overall application value.

ERIK: I think my use of the term Domain maybe confusing since as you said a domain can be considered a field of knowledge.

So, I am using Domain = environment + culture. Maybe it is clearer to use Environment = environment + culture and my use of System is more of a subset of your domain. Do you see that?

The way I understand your methodology, you provide the Student with a large number of movements/techniques/tactics to determine which ones the Student has a natural inclination to use. Using the Chaos/Outer Limits is the filtering process that eliminates the majority of M/T/T leaving a customized set. The point being is that this is what the person will naturally do, so don’t teach them stuff they aren’t going to do anyway, correct?

I would call this customized set a Customized System.

Now that the System has been created, you apply the System in different Environments (environment + culture) to make sure the System is complex enough to handle multiple Environments. If it fails in
certain Environments, then you then modify the System in order to make it work in that Environment.

The end result is that different Students have different Systems that they apply in multiple Environments. But the goal is to keep the System simple to use as opposed to complicated.

That it?

MARK: Bingo, sir!

ERIK: The reason for all the terminology is so that we can be on the same page.

MARK: Agreed, sir.

ERIK: Here is a quote from Rory Miller

“If you are teaching self-defense, you are teaching students, not subject matter. This is the hallmark difference between self-defense and martial arts. When I am teaching martial arts, I am teaching a system that has been handed down for many generations, and I have an obligation to teach certain things to a certain standard, in a certain way. When I am teaching martial arts, I am teaching a subject.

When I am teaching self-defense, I am teaching students. Every single student is different. They have different brains and bodies. “

QUESTION: How would you expand upon or interpret it in terms of your teaching philosophy?

MARK: I see a marriage of the two in my approach. I don’t teach from dogma or set canon (and I’m not implying that Mr. Miller is either). What we do here is less teach than coach and where that may sound like hair-splitting to some I see a stark distinction.

If I were to “teach” I would be handing down set formulas and incontrovertible axioms.

Coaching allows me to give exposure of broad categories to the athlete and then observe their own varying attributes-we then coach, push, prod, cultivate the individual’s use of the general movement to a (hopefully) better fit with their own talents and abilities.

ERIK: I have always liked the idea of coaching rather than instruction because coaching implies that it is the student’s responsibility to learn whereas teaches implies it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the student learns. Could you expand more on how you coach students?

MARK: In a nutshell, we have a conversation to see what the athlete’s goals are, then we tailor a preliminary plan to start along that goal path using a few pre-sets. All the while we pay attention to how the athlete moves and responds to the material and make adjustments along the way for individual attributes. We tweak and add material where it seems wise and just as importantly we remove and cull where possible as reducing exposure to downside effects is often just as important (if not more so) than gaining new material.

Two examples to illustrate what I mean by emphasizing reducing downside as opposed to upside.

In self-defense/street work-In response to a query along these lines “What if I were in a biker bar and it goes bad?”
First, the less often you have to be in a given biker bar known for outbreaks of violence the less you have to work tactics that may or may not work when chaos hits. Where initially the query seems to want the upside of this or that self-defense tactic to respond to street-evil, the counter is to question the wisdom of continuing exposure to possible violence.

Yes, I am aware that we can’t reduce such exposures to nil, but we are a bit less than honest if we spend more (or all) of our time on how to respond in a fight that may never happen and little to no time on what we can do every day about being aware of practices and environments with increased risk.

Reduce downside and upside automatically increase.

In the sportive aspect. Let’s say I’ve got a new athlete and his footwork is a mess. Rather than belabor him with the dozen-points of solid footwork he or she needs to keep in mind to become more fluid, I will find one and only one negative aspect and say “Hey, let’s do it again but no matter what, I do not want to see that rear foot come off of the ground.”

Once we’ve killed that downside habit there is an automatic upside gain-stability, we move on to the next downside to be culled.

It’s sort of a negative injunction “Thou shalt not…” athletic approach but handled point by point rather than throw all of the concepts against the wall at one time leading to cognitive overload.

Part 2 to follow in December.

For more from Mark please go to

The Angela Meyer Interview Part V – Erik Kondo

Erik: I think that much of self-defense can be thought of in terms of boundary setting. IMO, boundary setting is comprised of the three elements of Respect, Communication, and Enforcement. Most people think that all physical self-defense is Enforcement.

But I think physical self-defense can be divided into two overlapping categories:

  1. Physical actions that are primarily Communication.
  2. Physical actions that are primarily Enforcement.

Defense actions that are “resistance” based are really Communication. These actions send a message of non-compliance. But Enforcement requires actions that go beyond resistance and actually “force” resolution by injuring and/or disabling the attacker.

I think that many times WSD instructors and students confuse these two different types of physical actions. For example, Resistance/Communication is only effective against lowly motivated attackers who are looking for victims that will not resist. But a highly motivated attacker will not be stopped by Resistance/Communication. This type of person must be dealt with through the use of true Force/Enforcement.

Problems come about when the Defender employs Resistance/Communication when she should be using Force/Enforcement or the Defender uses Force/Enforcement when Resistance/Communication would have been sufficient.

Therefore, effective self-defense requires knowing the difference between Communication and Enforcement and when which type is required.

What are your thoughts on what I said? Can you think of specific examples of what I am referring to?

Angela: I agree completely and really like the language you’ve coined around this.  I think so often when we are talking about Women’s Self Defense, we have this idea of being a badass on the streets and being able to “I wish a motherfucker would” stare down an attacker, when the reality is, most attacks will happen from men you know.  AKA, highly motivated, or driven by emotional content.

So, how do we teach this in WSD classes/ workshops?  Like any type of Self Defense or Martial Arts that is taught, there are layers to the teaching.  For the foundational classes or “one off” workshops, in Women’s Self Defense, I think the most important take away is boundary setting through physical intensity and becoming more familiar with limbic brain processes.

For those who continue to train and become more serious, the key word is “stress inoculation”.  I do not think this is just physical, although I do think physical is the “gateway.” Physical, mental, emotional training is all connected.  For example, I have trained in Muay Thai,  Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling for many years.  I think I’m highly competent in the physical movements during training.  That said, I still struggle with freezing if my brain goes into a limbic state. Consistent training and stress inoculation in a safe and controlled environment has greatly helped me to access the ability to act in these situations instead of freeze, but I do still have a lot of work to do.

Circling back to your question, I think we must start with the psychological realm (also knowing that when we are talking about “Women’s Self Defense” we must take into consideration different cultures, socio economics, age, well/sick, etc., and not lump all women into one category)

How do we live our everyday lives?  This needs to be brought to light… day one… through some type of stress inoculation.

Once a woman has entered this realm, then I think introducing weapons into the equation is necessary, since 99 percent of the time, women will not be successful in “beating up” a larger man even if he is “untrained” and she is “trained”.  It’s just bullshit to think that can happen. It’s a Hollywood mentality.

I do believe learning to fight and becoming stress inoculated is the first step, because without this, it’s not realistic to add on a weapon.  If I don’t understand “push/pull” energy, if I freeze when I’m hit, if I lay down and die, a weapon will certainly not save me.

I think it is extremely important and intellectually honest to make the distinction between lowly and highly motivated attackers.  This is why I think it is bullshit to teach “moves” in a WSD workshop or class and insinuate these “moves” will save you. This work is much deeper and complex than earning moves. I’m going to bring it back to working with psychology (especially, limbic response) through physical, emotional and mental stress inoculation.

Erik: I think that honesty and authenticity are two qualities that are missing in much selfdefense instruction.

I have a theory that instinctive movements are influenced greatly by the person’s emotional state. And a certain group of movements are consistent with the emotion of FEAR and another is consistent with the emotion of ANGER. Many of these movements are opposites. For example, the emotion of anger creates movements that bring someone closer to the person that she is afraid of. I call these IN Movements. While the emotion of fear drives the person to want to move away. I call these OUT Movements.

When you consider many physical self-defense techniques, you will notice that many of the technically effective ones require the defender to “attack the attacker” by closing/shutting him down or engaging in close quarter strikes, joint locks or chokes. What this means is that the defender needs to move closer to the person that she fears. These movements are not consistent with the defender’s primary emotion of fear. They are consistent with anger.

In other words, regardless of the theoretical effectiveness of the technique or how well the student can perform the technique when not fearful. She will most likely not be able to perform these techniques when in a fearful state. On the other hand, she is more likely to execute techniques that are consistent with being afraid such as kicking and pushing away in order to create the opportunity to escape.

For example, making a fist and punching is an anger action. Whereas an open-handed push away is more likely to be a fear action. This is not a question of which movement is more effective. It is a question of which movement is more likely to be executed given the projected emotional state of the defender. If the action is intended to be used by a female defender against an attempted stranger attack, it is highly likely that fear will be woman’s primary emotion. Therefore, those techniques that involved the woman pulling IN her attacker to choke/gouge/bite him are unlikely to be carried out, regardless of their underlying effectiveness.

It is for this reason that WSD self-defense instructors are constantly trying to get women to “get mad” when simulating a self-defense scenario. Or they use the analogy of the “protective mother” fighting to save her children. The instructors intuitively recognize that anger is an essential element for success in their fighting methodology. I think these instructors also need to understand is that they need to teach an alternative methodology that is suitable for the fearful defender too. It is not enough to only provide students with an Anger Toolbox. They must also have a Fear Toolbox. And students need to understand how their emotions are likely to override the trained movements that are not consistent with their emotional state.

here are small group of movements that are consistent with both the anger and fear state. I think that the hammer fist striking qualifies because you can use it in anger and also in fear to hit someone away with or without a weapon.

What are your thoughts on IN and OUT Movements?

Angela: I am in complete agreement with this theory and from my experience in teaching Women’s Self Defense, most women who have been through traumatic experiences, express anger and rage when training, because when the actual attack took place, they froze in fear.  They use mottos like “never again mother fucker (s)” Anger is a very powerful energy and when used properly can fuel a sense of fearlessness needed to create “IN” movements.

I also think it is important to use anger as a tool for women to find voice and authenticity in the world.  A woman who has been told to shut up and look pretty her whole life can find a lot of power through physical modalities that ask her to become bigger, aggressive and not selfconscious. That said, as someone who is a fighter and struggles with anxiety, I know first-hand that when put in a fight or flight situation, where huge adrenaline dumps are a factor, my fear or “OUT” movements are dominant.

In my most recent fight, I was able to override anxiety, by changing my eyes to “mean eyes” and sounding off in a very scary way every time i would strike.  These “anger” actions made me feel more powerful, therefore actually physically exhibiting more power.  This tactic worked beautifully in round one, but in the second round where her forward pressure didn’t stop and I was met with a situation that I had not planned for, fear became my dominant response, my eyes changed and I had more freeze responses, not able to think or take action.  After round two in the corner my coach sat me down and basically slapped me awake with his words, “What the fuck are you doing?  You are not scared of her.  Change your eyes right now.”  With just the coaching and shifting my state through my gaze and energy, I was able to translate the fear back into anger which felt more powerful.

These shifts take time, and self-awareness practice.  I think this is vital in teaching women’s self defense.  How do we, or can we in a limbic state, choose how you want to show up?  What are tools that can get us there?  Changing your eyes from deer in headlights to slits? Changing facial expressions and posture?

I think we start here and then move to other physical techniques that address the reality in an attack most women who are untrained or very little trained are going to have the natural response of fear.

Erik: In the example of your ring fight. When you are feeling Angry what images flash into your mind? And when you are feeling Fearful, how do the images change?

What do you “see” happening, if only for a moment?

By images, I mean rapid flashes of the future within the context of the fight. These images are part of your emotional mind communicating with you.

 Angela:  “In the example of your ring fight. When you are feeling Angry what images flash into your mind?”

Blood.  Lion with sharp teeth devouring its prey. Goddess Kali. Predator animal that kills without concern or thought for another’s humanity.

“And when you are feeling Fearful, how do the images change?”

I see myself scared…more as a little girl. Tender. tears. an animal who plays dead for survival purposes.

“What do you “see” happening, if only for a moment?”

First round of last fight.  Saw me as the predator.  Kill shots. Dominating.  Out for blood.  Invincible

Second round of last fight: Saw her crazy eyes.  Constant pressure forward without technique, but just animalistic aggression. I saw myself getting mentally tired, because I was afraid that physical I could gas out if I was that aggressive.

Third round of last fight:  I saw me losing and didn’t want that outcome. I still didn’t go back to the kill switch, but I was not running.  I saw me winning because I wanted to.

“By images, I mean rapid flashes of the future within the context of the fight. These images are part of your emotional mind communicating with you.”

When angry:  Predator animal.  Wild animal.  Fangs out. ability to kill without concern for humanity or feelings

When afraid. Myself as a little girl. hiding. running. not trusting in my own capacity to fight.

CRGI would like to express our sincere thanks to Angela for this interview.


The Angela Meyer Interview Part IV – Erik Kondo

Erik: I have noticed a common complaint among instructors who teach WSD. They complain there is a lack of interest from most women for participating in self-defense classes. There are bursts of interest that usually coincide with a highly publicized assault, but in general, women don’t seem to be motivated to take classes.
What are your thoughts on this issue and how do you feel more women can be encouraged to get involved in self-defense training?

Angela: I feel like it’s all about the environment created. We live in a world that is still operating with gender norms and socialized patterns of behavior that differ for men and women. I definitely see “bursts of interest” coinciding with current events, (Our recent administration has caused a huge rise in WSD in Washington DC), but I also see something more.

Within any Movement, people need to be inspired by the “why.” Why will it benefit a woman to train in Self Defense? To make her safer from a statistically low violent attack? To have better skills to deal with assholes on the street who say shit? For therapeutic reasons from previous trauma? To burn calories?

When we are dealing with people who have busy lives, limited resources, schedules, and proximity to training facilities, the question becomes what will be the motivating factor(s) to commit? I’m not sure the latter reasons are a strong enough catalyst, especially when we are dealing with a significant “intimidation” factor for most women.

For instance, I know it is MUCH safer to wear my bike helmet biking through DC, but I don’t always wear it, because I forget or I don’t want to carry it around. The potential risk is not enough catalyst for me, but I wholeheartedly agree wearing it could prevent serious injury if I had an accident.

But, if for me, wearing a bike helmet had a direct effect on my everyday life, I may be more serious about making that happen.

Or take a practice like meditation. At some point, I need to directly understand how a daily meditation practice will positively affect my life. If I don’t believe it will, am I likely to do it? I may “will” myself for a period of time, but if I don’t have my own “why” and a direct experience for my everyday life, I would be less likely to make the time to meditate.

These are random analogies, but…when we are dealing with Women’s Self Defense, we are also dealing with a high level of intimidation, lack of comfort, and fear on top of all the other stuff.

So how can we create a “why” that has an immediate effect on their everyday lives? Because I wholeheartedly believe it does. (boundary setting) This is where Self Defense begins WAY beyond learning techniques and how to fight. As a teacher, I use the physical modalities to tap into something much deeper and shed light on daily patterns, belief systems, mannerisms and habits.

I also do not think anything exists in a vacuum. The physical training is a necessity to tap into the deeper work.

I come full circle in answering your question. I see the “trend” of women’s self-defense rising and I see out of this trend, more women seriously interested and committed to training in Self Defense. I think this starts with the way we teach. Not wishy washy, “Sex in the City” shit, but some serious physical intensity, AND the encouragement to pay attention to what bubbles to the surface…aka: self-awareness. What happens when you are physically uncomfortable? Do you habitually say, “I’m sorry”? Do you feel self-conscious when you yell? Do you love hitting shit? Do you make excuses? This kind of awareness and training has a direct effect on women’s everyday lives because it is all integrated. Every relationship: work, intimate, family, strangers, has a direct correlation to this deeper awareness of how we are showing up in our lives. (boundary setting) I’ve found that women get this. They are inspired by it. They find a “why” in it, which inspires them to find the time, resources, commitment for continued training.

Erik: You brought up several points that I think are worth expanding up.

Self-defense training is a matter of the Risk vs. Reward a/ka Cost vs. Benefit equation. In this case, for most women, the Benefit is not worth the Cost. Where the Benefits are defined solely in terms of dealing with some future unlikely stranger attack and/or verbal harassment and the Costs are the immediate use of time, money, and the intimidation created by participating in the class itself.
In this case, the immediate and certain Costs outweigh the future and uncertain Benefits.

Question #1: How would you describe the female “Intimidation” aspect? And how can it be reduced?

Question #2: Many in the Self-Defense Industry (The Merchants of Fear) use FEAR as the means to circumvent the Cost/Benefit equation. They use the motivation of fear as the primary driver for getting women to attend classes. This situation results in students attending a class or two as a means to reduce their fear (Fear Management). But as soon as their level fear dissipates, so does their desire for training.

I think you are talking about expanding upon the Reward/Benefit side of the equation so that it becomes greater than the associated Risk/Cost. Not being attacked/harassed is a Negative Reward in that you get the reward when something doesn’t happen. And most people in safe communities get this reward automatically. Dealing with an actual attack and/or harassment has a negative association since you still have been attacked and/or harassed.

On the other hand, Positive Rewards are tangible benefits that have an immediate benefit. Some of these benefits revolve around creating more respectful interpersonal relationships, greater self-esteem and confidence, improved self-awareness, effective boundary setting skills, and more. These expanded benefits can be obtained without having to actually be attacked.

Question #3: In my opinion, the commonly used Self-Defense Training is like an Insurance Policy analogy provides the wrong impression. The implication is that the Payout only happens if/when you get attacked and there is a continual associated cost. I think Self-Defense Training is more like your health. The more effort you put into improving your health, the greater the benefit regardless of if you get ill or receive an injury.

You said: “Self Defense begins WAY beyond learning techniques and how to fight. As a teacher, I use the physical modalities to tap into something much deeper and shed light on daily patterns, belief systems, mannerisms and habits.”

I think this is the root of an issue that causes great confusion in the Self-Defense Industry. The physical fighting aspect of self-defense is only a fractional part of complete Self-Defense (personal safety). Therefore, it should also be a fractional part of self-defense training. But physical training is also a vehicle needed to reach the student’s authentic self. In other words, self-defense training that is not physical is likely to only reach into the student’s cognitive mind. While this aspect is very important, it takes physical training to reach into the student’s nonconscious processes and emotional mind. And not just any kind of physical training will do that. It takes authentic physical training to access the student’s authentic self.

Question #4: It is here that opinions start to diverge. What fraction of self-defense training should be physical and what fraction be non-physical? What should the non-physical fraction entail? What constitutes “authentic physical training”? What are the diminishing returns of physical training? In other words, once the student has received a certain quantity and quality of physical training, does it start to have less and less ability to reach the student’s authentic self? And if so, how can the physical training itself be modified to keep providing solid returns on investment? Is it necessary to replicate the actual circumstances of an attack to create authentic physical training, or depending upon the individual involved, can authenticity be created WITHOUT making the training as realistic as possible?

In a nut shell, I think the authenticity of the student’s response created is more important than how it is actually created. That leaves open for a wide variety of different methodologies for physical training, but they should produce a relatively narrow result.

These are general questions. It is not necessary for you to answer them all. Please feel free to respond as you wish.

Angela: RE: Question #1. My initial response would be, more female teachers. We are primal creatures who see pattern recognition. When I see a woman teaching, I also see the possibility of me being like that. If I see a man, that’s great too. I have had numerous male instructors and coaches that are phenomenal, but there is also an unconscious understanding that I can never be that for obvious physiological reasons.

RE Question #2. YES a million times to this paragraph. After all of the Women’s Self Defense workshops/events that I teach, I make sure to spend time talking to each woman or groups of women and just listen. what I am hearing as a common thread is, they love the fact, that I make Self Defense not just about the physical stuff, but also applicable to their everyday lives. The majority of women in these workshops have a personal “aha” moment about how they are showing up in their daily life, and “in turn” asking the question, “why?” From this awareness they can choose consciously to do something different. There is extreme power in this conscious act of choosing.

As a teacher, I am not concerned about pushing women to their physical red lines…. I’m a natural at it. I demand it of myself. I ask others to hold me accountable. I tell them at the beginning, I am not there to be their friend or get them to “like me,” My job is to ruffle feathers and if they felt uncomfortable, or hated me just a little bit, I did my job. I do not teach anything physical, without understanding a “why” to the technical part of my teaching, therefore I don’t feel any sense of being a “poser” in the physical realm.

From that “real” and tangible space, I can ask these deeper questions without fear of being “too soft”, “woo woo” or conceptual.

RE Question #3: A million times yes to this statement.

RE: Question #4: I think my answer to the latter questions is, Live relentlessly into the questions, not the answers. Be okay with, “I don’t know.” As a Buddhist Chaplain, End of Life care counselor, and hospice worker, the “money” answer would be….“I don’t know” It takes gritty courage to live into the questions, without a need to find ground or certainty beneath us. Because the most honest answer is, there are not hard and fast rules. We are all going to die and thinking we can out-smart, out-buy, or out-control, that reality will always bite us in the ass.

I also understand this way of thinking is on a much broader and conceptual reality plane. We as human beings want and need answers and structure “Knowing and controlling” are not necessarily limiting, unless bastardized into truth and concrete “answers.” So at this point, it is vital to have the conversations, communicate and practice. Being willing to try and fail, or try and get feedback, or try and succeed, it necessary.


[decisiontree id=”4868

The Angela Meyer Interview Part III – Erik Kondo

Erik: I am interested in your opinion on female runners and personal safety. What are some of your thoughts on training women to deal with their fears and concerns?

Angela: My first response would be, don’t run, train in Martial Arts and Self Defense instead. BUT I spent many years as an outdoor runner and even ran a marathon at one point (which was not the best decision for my body).

This is a serious issue and there have been several incidents where I live, in Washington DC, where female runners have been attacked, especially early in the am.

I think first and foremost, trusting intuition and that “gut” feeling of safety/unsafety is key when dealing with outdoor running as a woman.  For instance, I remember many years ago when I lived in AL.  I was running during the day on a trail in the middle of nowhere.  There was a part of the trail that paralleled with a small highway.  As I ran by the highway, a truck with 3 men hastily pulled off onto the shoulder.  There were no other cars or people around. They got out of the car and started walking towards the trail.  For a split second I thought, “Ang, they probably just have to go to the bathroom, don’t freak out,” But in the next split second, I started sprinting for my life.  I did not care what I looked like, I followed the fear in my gut. As I started to sprint, they realized it was probably not worth it to chase me, and yelled things like, “We just wanted to talk to you.”

I reiterate, when we are talking about Self Defense, we are referring to winning moments in time. I won that moment in time, but I just as easily could have not.

I have many women ask about carrying pepper spray while running.   My response to that is, “If carrying something makes you feel safer, do it, but unless you’re trained in using pepper spray, keys or a tazer, the reality of being able to access and use properly in a moment of “fight or flight” is slim.  Using weapons, takes just as much training as defending weapons and this is where I always default back to the real work of Self Defense, especially when we are specifying women.  Learning to fight is key, instead of being “weapon-centric” one must learn to fight on a deeper level and always look for exit strategies, weapons in a real-life environment, and the ability to use our bodies as natural weapons.  We must begin at the preemptive, psychological, sociological patterns that are deeply ingrained in us and it’s all connected.

Erik: In think that you brought up an interesting issue here.

On a statistical basis, I think that the majority of women are on some level effected by Fear of Violence while running and a smaller proportion are effected by verbal harassment and threatening behavior. And a very small proportion are effected by actual physical assaults. But the consequences of these assaults are severe.

Therefore, regarding Fear of Violence, carrying a weapon may have a soothing effect. In that case, the weapon provides a benefit. It also may help them in terms of verbal harassment since the person many feel less vulnerable and be more assertive, but, a major problem occurs in the event that they actually have to deploy the weapon.

In that case, not knowing how and when (legally and tactically) to use the weapon may have the effect of worsening the situation. In addition, they may have false confidence regarding their weapon’s capabilities which may encourage them to take more risk than they would without having a weapon. And of course, there is always the issue of not having the psychological will to use the weapon. Not to mention, the practical issue of carrying it.

Then again, there are always those situations, where having a weapon available may become the determining factor for safety.

Therefore, I think it can be reasonably said that carrying a weapon has both positives and negatives associated with it. The factors will vary from individual to individual, from environment to environment, and from incident to incident.

Reviewing what you said “We must begin at the preemptive, psychological, sociological patterns that are deeply ingrained in us and it’s all connected.”

These are deep issues that cannot be resolved in a few hours of instruction. Neither can the ability to learn and execute physical technique be learned in a few hours.

Therefore, for a one-time class with women who are unlikely to take additional classes, what do you feel is the most important aspect to focus on? In other words, do you think it is more important to focus on problems that are more likely to occur, but have less physical consequences, such as verbal harassment and sexual coercion. Or problems that are less likely to occur, but have greater physical consequences such as violent stranger assaults?

Angela: A big YES to all you said.  I am learning so much from your questions and deeply grateful for the process.

When I teach Women’s Self Defense workshops (or any “once off” training) I make sure they understand:

They are only dipping the tiny tip of their baby toenail into the vast waters of “Self Defense”.

There is nothing I am about to say/teach in this class/workshop that will guarantee a magical shield of safety.  I also tell them if they hear teachers who say, “these 3 techniques will make you safe.”  Run. Fast. In the other direction.

It comes back to the importance of boundary setting. I think this is the first vitally important shield to owning your own body and space.  Women being verbally harassed, sexual coerced, or violently assaulted are symptoms of our culture.  They happen.  Sometimes really often.  It’s disgusting.  It’s not right. And in no way is it a women’s “fault”.    That said, we as women, can start to make personal choices to how we want to show up in the world. Do we say we are sorry, just because we are apologizing our existence away, or are we really sorry for something?  Do we giggle, because we like to laugh and have fun? Or does aggression and confrontation make us uncomfortable? Are we not able to yell because we really don’t have the capability, or are we so self-conscious about how we come across? Do we always take care of others because we really want to, or are we just programmed that way?

I think this is the most important aspect to focus on. Through an intense, uncomfortable, physical experience, how do I as a teacher, shed light on everyday habits and engrained belief systems, that keep them from being a fucking powerhouse?  Awareness is key.  If I can just plant a few seeds that will take root quickly or grow over a long period of time, I have done my job of making a woman safer. I will never know when or if the seeds will take root, but I’ll try like hell to sew them.

I do think it is VERY important to acknowledge that every woman is different and there not a cookie cutter answer.

I had an experience the other night.  I was sleeping alone and thought someone broke in the window of my apartment.  I struggle from pretty severe anxiety.  It shuts me down, especially in a moment of primal fear. I went through all my self Defense 101 checkpoints. What could I use as a weapon? Where are my exits?  What will I do to get out quickly and where will I run?  The process was legit and proactive…but the real problem, was, can I actually do this?  My body feels shut down in fear. I “know” all of these things intellectually but can I do them?  It’s not an easy answer and I think we are doing a disservice to all women, when we give pat answers.

So to reiterate, I think the most important thing to start teaching women from day one:  Bringing awareness to how they move through their everyday world.  Does this way serve them and make them safer and stronger?


[decisiontree id=”4868

The Angela Meyer Interview Part II – Erik Kondo

Erik: Rory Miller talks about creating a physically safe place to do physically dangerous things and an emotionally safe place to do emotional dangerous things. It sounds like that is exactly what you are doing.

Angela: Yes. I also make sure I am fully responsible for physical safety as well. This is why I am very strict on no one talking when I’m talking, so that everyone can hear the instruction and there is no confusion. I let people know they may get bloody knuckles, from punching a pad bare handed, and if they have a job where that’s not cool, they can use palm heel strikes. I let them know they will be physically uncomfortable, and that’s part of the work, to get their bodies stress inoculated.
But I take the job of keeping them physically safe very seriously.

Erik: It has been my experience (and others) in dealing with the typical demographic of women that come to a self-defense class, the majority are really not interested in engaging in serious physical contact. Using a rough guideline of the 80/20 rule. I find that only twenty percent are willing to push themselves physically, the other eighty percent would rather not.

My solution to this issue has been to focus on primarily boundary setting and use role playing of common scenarios that women encounter in their everyday lives as teaching tools. Invariably, the women have voiced boundary intrusions and violations by men as their primary concern and problem.

Angela: I agree this is one of the most voiced concerns of women who are seeking “Selfdefense”. It’s that in between space, where someone has not physically crossed a line in the sand, but there has been some sort of verbal intrusion or feeling of impending violation. In Fit to Fight, the Self Defense system I train under, they refer to this space as the “fence.” The space in-between, where there is not a clear threat, but you prepare mentally and set yourself up physically to be ready.

I also agree many women are really not interested in serious physical contact, but I think a huge bulk of that trend is female patterns of socialization, which I see as something that needs to be directly addressed and changed. I tell women right away, this is not cardio kickboxing, calorie burning time or, group exercise.

Honestly, I don’t care if women don’t want to push themselves physically (although I think you are correct in the 80/20 rule, but I think the physical push is necessary to access the part of themselves that feels too powerful, violent, aggressive, too uncomfortable. I think it’s necessary for them to feel what they fear, in a safe and supportive environment, otherwise they will never have an opportunity to rise above it. Of course, this is all done by building trust and understating the real distress of trauma. I make sure from the beginning the women know I am a safe leader and yet in the next breath, tell them I’m okay with them not liking me.

Erik: Generally speaking, I have found that younger woman in particular, do not have a real understanding of the concept of deterrence. They confuse deterrence with aggression. They feel that by engaging in tactics such as strong body language, eye contact, assertive phrases, and the like, that they will encourage aggression rather than discourage it.

Much of their behaviors seem to stem from socialization that relies upon using passive body language and indirect communication to deal with conflict. Some examples are excessive smiling, giggling, downcast eyes, ignoring, hunched shoulders, pretending to be looking at her phone, entwined legs, etc. These behaviors seem to be ingrained responses to social conflict particularly in dealing with aggressive men.

It is my belief that these behaviors are habits that arise partly from the fear of engaging in Over-enforcement. Since they fear a backlash from assertiveness and strength, the tend to overshoot in the opposite direction and engage in Under-enforcement. The element that they don’t seem to understand is how Under-enforcement breeds contempt, a lack of respect, and can lead to violations, particularly from predatory individuals.

Enforcement is at the core of boundary setting. It is the willingness to enforce boundaries that creates respect for the boundary. Most of the time this enforcement is not physical, but sometimes it is.

I would like to know if you agree with my general assessment, and if so, where does your training fit in?

Angela: Very well said, and I couldn’t agree more. If there was ONE take away I would want women to get from training with me in Self Defense, it is your statement, “It is the willingness to enforce boundaries that creates respect for the boundary…under-enforcement breeds contempt, a lack of respect, and can lead to violations, particularly from predatory individuals.”

I start an intro Self-defense workshop or series with that in mind, therefore the work we do, will yes, be very physical and tactical…and yet I am looking to ignite the psychological grit and emotional resilience to say, “not today mother fucker”, not just to an attack, but boundary setting in all areas of a woman’s life, especially relationships…and maybe, just maybe, begin to de-socialize, normal female responses when confrontation/ perceived aggression arises: giggling, permagrin, lack of seriousness, apologizing, over nurturing, excuses, and sulky body language.

The themes I see the most are:

1.Apologizing: I find it fascinating how so many women are socialized to apologize their existence away. I encourage students from the beginning to count the number of times they say “sorry” during training. I am a firm believer that awareness is the first step to broader social change and movement.

2. Giggling: I bring awareness to this before we start training, that it will most likely happen and when it does, ask yourself why? Not as a way to judge yourself or others, but again, as an awareness practice. What are common habits when we are uncomfortable and why we do them? I of course do not think there is anything innately wrong with giggling, but if it is a response to uncomfortably, do others take us seriously?

3. Unnecessary Self -Consciousness. It can be very difficult for many women to yell. I have personal experience that I’ve had to overcome, the fear to be “seen”. But through a lot of internal and physical work, I have found voice, drawn boundaries, and become a woman, those on the outside see as “tough” and a “beast.” Many women find it extremely uncomfortable to yell from their guts. A little peep comes out or no sound at all. I think they see a part of themselves they don’t want to admit is there, violence, aggression, power, rage. I love the Marianne Williamson quote and read it often, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I don’t encourage women to go out and pick fights, but I do think it is necessary for boundary setting. I encourage women through physical uncomfortably to “unleash the beast” in a safe, supportive environment, so they can feel the underlying energy of it and know it’s “okay.”

I am so passionate about this work because I can see myself in all of it. My inspiration to competitively fight these days (besides loving it), is because I’m still working through deep ingrained parts of myself that are terrified to be “seen.” Parts of myself that seize up with anxiety if I think everyone will be looking at me, completely vulnerable, exposed, with no guaranteed control of the outcome.

End of Part II