Monday, July 03, 2017

Subtle Warrior - the history begins

Way back in 2000, when I stepped away from a "Traditional/Classical" martial art that I had been a part of for 18 years, I had no idea where my path would lead. All I knew was that I was done with the arts. What good was it if 'it' it didn't keep me safe enough when I needed to defend?

That perspective was wrong. 'It' wasn't what failed in my defense. The instructor failed. Like many others in the "Traditional/Classical" arts, they are the all-knowing... 'This way and ONLY this way'. I followed blindly. All the physical stuff was great, many skills were incorporated into all that physical. In fact, it was all those skills that opened soooo many doors for me. For that alone, I can never be grateful enough. So even though I had no idea where my path would take me, the training and the skills set acquired over those 18 years has opened doors from one coast to the other, and border to border to train with some incredible people. 

My path, right after I left the arts, brought me to Upaya Zen Center. A Buddhist Monastery.  Unbelievable. One of the summers there I was required to attend a Women's Retreat where I met some incredible people. I think of them often still to this day. It is from that retreat I decided I wanted to teach women how to defend. I knew the 'martial art' I had learned was not the way to go about it, but I did not know anything more than that. 

Long story shorter... I found myself in North Carolina getting a certification with the Modern Warrior(c) crew at a Women's Self Defense Conference. They got me going in the right direction and relayed to me the vital particulars that I was ignorant of. After that first seminar, I had a direction I wanted to go and a rough draft of a map. Coming up with a name for my 'business' was a long process. 


In 2004 the name came to me: Subtle Warrior

  subtle   |ˈsətl|   adjective    (esp. of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe: his    language expresses rich and subtle meanings.        • (of a mixture or effect) delicately complex and understated:subtle lighting.        • making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something: he tried a more subtle    approach.        • capable of making fine distinctions: a subtle mind.        • arranged in an ingenious and elaborate way.        • archaic crafty; cunning.

I felt this moniker for my business was fitting for what my goals were. Woman are true warriors. How many women do we know who are so strong and resilient, who have overcome some amazing obstacles and constantly understate their grit. They are Subtle Warriors. 

For each of us who carry loads and burdens that others cannot see; who go fourth and present ourselves as consistent and relentless in our everyday interactions for the sake of others. Presenting a steady, stable environment so that others may know there is, and can be, a place of stability. Which gives a sense of hope and calm. 


The violence we face as humanity is not new. And there are places that are worse than others, evils that cannot be grasped, unless you've been there. Even knowing someone who has been there, doesn't offer the reality of it. Be thankful for that. I have met and trained with some very dangerous, interesting people and the information was profoundly disturbing. 

The Subtle Warrior is anyone who knows challenges; who goes about their days doing what has to be done despite of the battles they face internally and elsewhere in their lives. The caregiver that goes to the store or to church and is pleasant and lighthearted to others. The woman whose just found out she has a cancer battle to fight, and yet goes to work and maintains the usual schedule, for the sake of consistency. How about the parent who struggles with doing the best she can, keeping a positive attitude when the world seem to be adamant at keeping her down. Then there's all the ladies of all ages who feel 'judged', 'inadequate', 'stupid', 'fat', 'ugly', 'not good enough'... or whatever else their 'self' constantly whispers within. All warriors. Subtly going through their conflicts, their scrimmages, their day to day struggles, non-stop. Everyday. 

The Subtle Warrior is all women, all ladies of all ages, we know the fight so well, so intimately that many time we are not even aware of how fierce we fight it.  💖

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What Don't You Know?

I want to know all I can about personal safety, more than just how to defend against an assailant. The want to know about real 'self' defending came, as with many karate-ka or martial artists, after an assault. 

As a black belt in a system whose training was very 'ol' school'. We were full contact, used no protective pads, and did all training, throws, and falls on concrete. We knew we were tough; tougher than any other martial artists, of course. Arrogance was a part of my person as well - probably just the arrogance of young ignorance. I knew I was fully prepared to defend against an attack from that bad guy coming from the dark alley way.

I was sold a façade. It's not the many techniques, physical skills or toughness that will be the golden ticket, the silver bullet, or wooden stake in defending. 

Throughout my martial art training, I always wondered how will I know which one of the 150+ technique use when I am attacked? Whenever I asked, the answer was always, "You'll just know". Like most karate/martial arts schools, the techniques were practiced in a static way. Two people face each other, a step or two away from one another. One executes the 'attack'; either a punch of some sort or a grab or maybe even a gun or knife. Always expected, always face-to-face from a 'fighting' stance.

This is not how attacks happen. This is certainly not how my assault occurred. 

So after my experience, I walked away from the traditional, classical, patriarchal, militaristic martial art that I had trained in for 18 years. I felt it failed me. There were very, very vital elements of personal defense that were missing from the training. But who knew?

That was 16 years ago. 

I had no idea what those 'missing' elements even were or that they were for real. How does one go about 'finding' something not known?

Twelve years ago I learned of those missing elements with the discovery of an instructor who filled in the blanks. In his school, above the entrance, Phil has a sign posted: "For Those Who Are Seeking". Pretty ironic, I thought. Especially considering where his school is located in relation to where I lived. What are the chances!?

Six years ago, I came across even more in-depth awareness and consciousness about those very elements. All because I touched base with the guy who wrote, Meditations on Violence, A Comparison of Martial Arts Training an Real World Violence. This book validated what I thought I had experienced. It felt good that someone understood. And still, I keep finding myself in the presence of knowledgeable and experienced people, learning amazing and sometimes disturbing insights from them. Little ol' me from the middle of nowhere!

The saying 'you dont know what you dont know' and the scripted, static, 'tab-A-into-slot-B' self defense taught in martial art schools are not whole. It's a façade. It looks cool, and feels empowering, but it is not whole, it's not in it's entirety. But who would know? 

I want to be as prepared as possible. It's more than the physical, it's the emotional, the psychological, the intangibles, the before and the after. I want to know how to see what to see; pre-incident indicators and I want to know the realities of 'threat recognition'. This is why I go train. This is why I have the network of people that I go to to learn from.

Those who prepare and train themselves for the possibility of violence will react differently than those who do not. ~Left of Bang, p.189 

I want to be as prepared as I can possibly be. This means educating myself, along with others, to be prepared for the possibility of violence. Yet I am fully aware that there is more that I dont know. 

What is it? What dont' you know?  

Saturday, July 02, 2016

No Hope. & No Quitting.

In light of all the 'violence' that is rampant in the world today, you would think that people would like to learn a bit about being better prepared.

Is there more violence? Or is more social media just embellishing how often and how much of it there really is. Humans are the scum of the earth and we relish in other's misery and suffering. Often we like to inflict it ourselves. We would rather blindly follow the foul-tempered windbag that sound confident -or maybe just loudest- who is good at instigating shit, than actually standing up for the dignity of others. 'Tell us what to think, but don't you dare teach us how to think, or worse yet, teach how to - do'.  What happens when you get a community, a nation, full of people who don't know how to think for themselves; who do not know how to 'do' stuff, like sew, cook, read, converse, discuss, learn, care. 

Is there more violence? Or maybe it is just that there are way too many people. Too many humans on the planet. There is only a limited amount of resources available. And at this point we are at the most consumable, throw-away society ever along with begin at the most populated earth ever. Resources consumed, overcrowded congestion... too many people equals more violence. 

Even if it is over-population that helps add to the violence and the all-around social media frenzy of violence feeding... the bottom line is that generally, those who say they want to be better prepared don't even know what to prepare for? Zombies, maybe?

How many times have I heard, "I want to learn, please set up a training." So, I go thru the process of scheduling a date, finding a facility, and getting the word out. Only to have the scheduled training date approach and low and behold, who is NOT present... the one who requested training to begin with. 

Have had even more confirm 'Yep, I gonna do this, I'll be there" and then just before the date.. 'oh, something came up, will do it next time, keep me on the mailing list.' or 'Oh, I've wanted to train with you for years! Can't this time.. again, tho. Keep me informed of future ones." 

I go to my own trainings not only because the people I learn from are genuinely experienced with defense, violence and survival, but because those that also attend get me. The last one came to about $1,200, which was a pretty good price. I stay at scummy hotels and usually skip a meal or two. I go because I want to learn. I go because it is the kind of people that I am most comfortable around. I go because when I am with my training buddies and learning from the instructors, I don't feel like such a freak. Like the sheep dog always on the outskirts of the crowd of sheep that don't really want much to do with me, other than maybe a couple of civil words of greeting and surface conversation, if even that. 

Nothing is more frustrating than having something so valuable to offer, people saying they have concerns and want to learn, but then it always gets put on the back burner. I understand that life happens. I understand emergencies come up, but every damn time?!

I.  Quit.  I quit.  I quit putting my 'teaching' out there for all these people who aren't showing up. I quit the format that obviously does not work. Since no one attended with the current method in which I offer seminars/classes, I am fully capable of adapting. The worse that can happen is the same ol' shit... nothing. The best thing that can happen is that the person looking back at me from the mirror wont be a quitter. I literally can't just walk away from this. Even if I wanted to. Thus, a re-designing of the approach to putting my classes out there. 

So many friends offered their understanding. All of which, know precisely, my frustration. They all offered much needed support and great suggestions. I don't know what I would do without my friends. Wished I lived closer to all of you, but obviously that would be literally everywhere. :)  Good thing there's Facebook.

So, in light of the last frustration melt-down. I am not closing the business. I am not quitting entirely, but rather, readjusting the approach. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Red Pill - Knowledge Taken In

You know the movie 'The Matrix', when Neo is given a choice. Morpheus offers Neo one of two pills. One pill was red and the other was blue. If Neo chose the blue pill, he would return to the world he had always known, nothing would change, his life would be as it had always been.

If Neo chose the red pill, he would be drawn into a world that was beyond imagination. Surreal, beyond plausible and one that Neo would have to adjust to in a rather quick and bizarre way from the get go.

If he chose the red pill, he would not be able to 'un-choose'

How many times in our lives do we wish we could 'un-choose'? Not even a 'do-over' just a plain ol' 'un-choose'... an option to not have ever made that choice to begin with?  Many, many years ago, I was siting around a campfire with Kelly. It was our last campout and we talked about a lot of things. One of the questions she asked was what would I have done different? The conversation took place 11 years ago on July 2. 

My answer at that time was 'nothing'. I would not have changed anything about my life and the choices made, because it all had brought me to the point I was at then. I liked who I was. I still do. My answer today would be the same. I often re-visit that specific conversation I had with Kelly. More often as a gage as to where I am at with myself. And if she would be proud. 

So, what has this to do with the red pill? Stepping onto the floor of a martial arts school is easy, in the fact that it is a physical commitment. Week in and week out, working your body, and learning new stuff, moving in ways that may be challenging, and unfamiliar. Just following commands and becoming stronger. I enjoyed my time in the traditional martial arts tremendously. There are many , many things that I experienced with it, that I cannot believe I did. 

But when I chose to walk away from the traditional martial arts and dive into the Self Defense aspect of it all, I was unaware of the 'Red Pill' world I was entering. Maybe it's that way for every person who has had an experience with assault or violence. If they've trained in a 'fighting' art, the experience disturbs  the ideology of their learned 'skills'.  I don't know. 

My first experience with learning about teaching self defense to women was with Phil Messina of Modern Warrior©. Phil is a retired NY PD who has had over 1,000 felony arrests. He volunteered for the one of the first decoy units NY had many years ago. He knows violence, he has had his share of experience with it. He was a great person to begin my Self Defense journey with. I still go and train with him whenever I can, and it is always an honor. 

As I honed my skills at presenting personal defense information, I continued to learn as much as I could. Then after reading "Meditations On Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence" I found another person to train with, Rory Miller. Rory added more information to add to what I already had, and he also presented a shit load more. When I go train with him, I am introduced to more personal defense people, opening more opportunities to gain more knowledge. Sometimes, as I drive the long hours home, I wonder..

Trying to educate the area about self defense, and all its aspects, is challenging. One of the obstacles I feel I face is that so many people sincerely feel that karate, martial arts, the fighting arts IS self defense. Or that some think it can be fully comprehend self defense in a short workshop or seminar. A good workshop or seminar can certainly open recognition and provide some perception.

The further I pursue learning about personal defense stuff: self defense law, threat assessment,violence dynamics, environmental awareness, criminal methodology, the more I wonder about that red pill. I know that the traditional martial art I trained in failed to educate me about the whole spectrum of self defense. Important details that would have armed me well enough, prepared me well enough to have stopped the assault before it got physical.

The main focus of almost all karate/martial arts classes cover in their 'self defense' segments is the physical. The physical fight, as if it is a fight, a competition, rather than the true ambush of terror it is.   Self defenses is about keeping safe, not being present if the shit hits the fan by figuring out how to escape and evade, or deter the violence. Recognizing predatory cues, and the kind of predator presenting them, and what it is, how it is, exactly to be 'aware' of. And most importantly what you, the individual is capable of doing in her own defense.

Denial is not a very good strategy of personal defense. Being prepared helps one live a little less paranoid, giving options and information give one a bit of freedom. Depend on yourself to defend yourself, because only you will be the one in the eye of the storm, preparation will help better the chances to get you through.

More people should opt for the red pill when it comes to their personal safety. Be Neo. Choose knowledge. Although once taken in, the knowledge cannot be un-learned. 

Monday, May 09, 2016

"It's a dangerous business walking out one's front door..."


I live in a small rural town. Rural, as in, nunya can completely comprehend the real meaning of 'rural'.  You see many rural towns if you drive across Nevada, and this one isn't much different than any other small, rural Nevada towns. There are small rural towns scattered throughout this good ol' U.S of A.

I like it here. There is nothing. Nothing. No medical. No theatre. No stoplight. Hardly any sidewalks. Our grocery store has 12 aisles. But a short 10 to 15 minute drive will get you to the top of a mountain with abundant hiking, fishing and wilderness. That same 10 to 15 minutes will get you to hills with streams and more fishing, or natural hot springs. Its great. Fresh air and very few people.

So when I travel from this middle-of-nowhere town into the great unknown. The adventure is always one that send ripples out that one has no idea what will happen.

As Gandalf says, "It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."

When I left the traditional martial arts system back in '99-2000, I soon found myself at a Buddhist Monastery, hanging out with the likes of Roshi Joan Halifax, and others. It was during some time there that I realized I needed to teach women some personal defense. Put some of my skills out there and start teaching a group, a target audience that I had never taught before. My martial arts students were always guys.

After deciding I was going to teach women self defense, I journeyed across the country to attend my first American Women's Self Defense Association* Seminar. I did so strictly to get the little piece of paper that said I was 'certified' to teach. Woo hoo. What I got was so much more that a certificate. I gained an extraordinary teacher when I met Phil, who I now train with as often as I possibly can.

I also gained many long-time friends, from all over the country. All which have the want of teaching women how to defend as a common bond. But most do other things as well; school teachers, councilors, professors, administrators, law enforcement, writers and more.

I live in a podunk, mud-puddle of a town, with absolutely nothing, but the people I have met along my journey, and the friendships gained, have opened doors beyond here. In fact, because of being swept off, I will be participating in a workshop this weekend that has nothing to do with self defense, specifically. But the opportunity to do so has come about strictly because of the self defense involvement.

So, stepping out my front door, driving for 2.5 miles hours to the nearest international airport, I will venture fourth to cross off a long-desired bucket list item. It is incomprehensible to me. How do I find myself at these places with these people, doing these things? Life is amazing and the windows of opportunity are within reach. But you must be willing to step out the door. Even if you have to do so all by yourself. Because you won't be by yourself for long.

Taking that first step sometimes is the scariest. But the journey, the adventure, no matter what it brings fourth, cannot be experienced any other way.

*as far as I am aware the AWSDA organization I knew has changed, I am no longer a member.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Little Ol' Me

Recently I had the opportunity to train with some really great instructors. A variety of people with an array of backgrounds. And once I started really thinking about the gentlemen that I had trained with, a bit of fear descended... these guys, were and are very, very scary.

What they've witnessed and have been a part of is truly terrifying to think of. Thus, what they teach about is all from first hand experience, rather than information passed down, around and through various teachers about 'how' to defend or what to expect.

Lately, my thought process has been obsessed with "Why am I doing all this Self Defense stuff for anyway?" Not in a self-doubt way, but more in a 'what-is-the-point' way. Then I get to thinking about my journey, and all the information and skills I have had the opportunity to gain throughout the years.  WHY?

I had a conversation with a guy the other day. The exchange started as some do as he asks..."You do marital arts?" My normal response, "I use to." And as usual, the conversation evolved from his asking what style and when did you start.. then... ya' know, I did a semester of something once, too?

Eventually the point came up about why I left the traditional, patriarchal, martial arts to learn about self defense; what it is and what it isn't. As I made a statement about understanding that having to defend means that you have to be able to explain why you had to make that decision. When the threat is no longer a threat, it is no longer self defense.

Obviously the conversation was more detailed, yet quick. From the expression of his face, never before thought of concepts of defending, as is with many, suddenly emerged. Stuff they never could have, or would have considered before.

It is interesting when these kinds of conversations come up with the people from Northeastern Nevada. The sparsely populated area doesn't offer the population density that contributes to the kind of violence training I partake in. Hence, they cannot really realize the in-depth ruthlessness of the people I know and train with. Even when I have the opportunity to explain it, it is difficult to fathom.

Many times I cannot fathom the quality of people I have trained with, either.
Me.
Little ol' no one from no where... [smirk]



Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Personal Defense - EDUCATION

As a Self Defense instructor I know that what I teach is vital, it MUST be accurate and simple.  Someones life may depend on it.  Teaching Self Defense is not teaching Karate.

My certification is done in New York, from Phil Messina at Modern Warrior Defensive Tactics Institute.  It is where I came to understand how different Self Defense is from traditional karate or martial arts training.  My first certification with Phil was in 2004.  I have a few other certifications from Modern Warrior and I have assisted in the certification process as well.  I have also had the privilege of teaching at "Female Self Defense Week" a few years ago.

I have also travelled to various places in the west to train with Rory Miller. Places like Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, Billings, Reno, San Diego.  Each time was the training was to help me become a better self defense instructor.  To learn more about violence, articulation, force law, and how to prepare for ambush.  It is important to know all the levels of personal defense in order to better inform those I teach.

I make the effort and excursions to continue my own education in order to to present the best, most accurate and informative courses I can.  It is because I know the people I train with have gained their experience in the foxholes of violence and survival.  I know that they are bona fide.  They have dealt with the violent people and have gained knowledge about their specific skills and learned how to execute those skills to keep themselves safer.  These guys realized that they had the opportunity to teach others how to survive and keep safer as well.  No fancy titles, no flashy belts... no ego.  Just sincere want to help others understand what they have learned.

So what is the difference between Self Defense and karate or martial arts?  For my journey, the martial arts gave me strength, endurance, coordination, history, background and a strong foundation.  Being forced to spar eventually got me to conquer my fear of sparing.  That in itself took eight years, thus perseverance was another positive aspect of the martial arts.  The art I was fortunate enough to study was very comprehensive. It included full contact sparring- no protective equipment on concrete, grappling, throws, weaponry and more.  Which was very well rounded for a future I had not anticipated at the time of my relentless training in the traditional art.

Self Defense, or Personal Defense EDUCATION as I prefer to refer to it as, is so much more than the rote movements of a karate/martial arts class.  Its more than the formalities and ritual.  Personal defense begins way before the physical altercation.  It is more emotional and ethical than the traditional martial arts school I was apart of ever taught.  There was no preparation for the psychological aspect of victimization.

When I chose to specialize specifically in women's self defense, it was because I had come to realize that the cognitive aspects and the social taboos that hold us back were apart of many women's lives and experience.  Violence is more than a punch in the face.

How one prepares for the ambush of violence makes a difference in whether she survives and thrives or becomes a victim that forfeits her psyche.  Education will give her a better understanding of what to prepare for, and how to switch the switch from prey to predator.  My mission, in seeking out the best to learn from, train with, is to be able to give those who are not 'karate-ka, martial artists, fighters how to best fight the fight of their lives. Or better yet show her how to see it before it gets to that point; detect and deter, escape and evade; and if necessary, become a force to be recon with if it does go physical.