From Bullied to Blackbelt, by Anna Erishkigal

This is the tale of a suburban mom’s journey to self-defense readiness.

In the photo above, I’m sparring with my instructor. (I’m the one on the left.) Don’t let my karate instructor’s size fool you. This petite blonde woman can kick my @$$.

My father was an abusive man, the kind who would hit you – again – when you came home crying after the neighborhood bully shoved your face into the dirt and stole your lunch money. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had taught us how to defend ourselves, but his “lessons” on self-defense consisted entirely of berating us and beatings. Enter high school — the bullying continued. It was a way of life where I grew up. But a friend taught me a single self-defense move – to flip an assailant who grabbed you from behind. Several years later, that move saved my life when an abusive boyfriend tried to strangle me.

Many years later, as a suburban mother with three kids and a soft-spoken computer engineer for a husband, the issue of self-defense came up again when my middle daughter came home from the bus, in tears, because an older bully kept picking on her. Calls to the school, numerous meetings, and even the threat of legal action failed to protect my child. So, I signed my kids up for martial arts classes and, about three months later, when the bully hit her again, she laid him out on the floor.

Try messing with me now, you big bully!





Number 2 daughter, no longer afraid

It took several years, but the martial arts instructor finally convinced me to sign up for the adult class. By this point, I knew many of the katas (pre-rehearsed defense moves) because I’d helped my children practice them for rank advancement, but the thought of getting into the ring myself always frightened me. I’d like to say that I was an instant bad@$$; but at the time I was seriously overweight, with bad knees, and the only thing which kept me there was the fact the instructor was patient, my fellow students cracked jokes as we sparred, and unlike my father, I wanted to set a good example for my kids. Gradually the moves became second nature, the pounds came off, and it suddenly ‘clicked’ one weekend when some gangbangers approached my family and, rather than cower, something in our demeanor made them realize we wouldn’t make an easy target.

The family that fights together, stays right together…





Eldest daughter with my son

Ten years later, I received my first blackbelt, and two years after that, I achieved my second “dan” (degree). In addition to karate (USA Urban Goju), I’ve learned Philippine stick fighting, Aikido, and boxing; while my oldest daughter achieved blackbelt, my second daughter is currently a junior blackbelt, and my son has his purple belt and is moving up the ranks. Will I ever be Black Widow? No… I’m still a middle-age suburban mom who prefers to knit sweaters or can-up a batch of jelly rather than seek out trouble. But what martial arts has taught me, and my children, is that you don’t have to remain defenseless against the bullies and the baddies.

In these unsettled times, when even the hint of “microaggression” or support for the wrong political party can result in being dragged out of your car and brutally beaten, wouldn’t you feel more secure if you knew how to defend yourself? Here is some advice to get you started on your journey:

1.     Find a Patient “Sensei” (Instructor) and Dojo

If you’ve watched any martial art movies or seen “The Karate Kid,” you know that some martial arts studios come with an overdose of attitude. If you’re a natural athlete (for example, you grew up playing team sports), you may thrive on this competition. But a too-aggressive dojo (karate school) will often discourage more moderate temperaments. Luckily, for every “Cobra Kai,” there’s a dozen Mister (or Miss) Miyagis, eager to teach you how to defend yourself.

Nor is there a single “best” method. Each discipline developed due to local threats (for example, Okinawan karate developed under Japanese rule which forbade the peasants to own weapons, so clever farmers learned to use farm implements; while Brazilian Capoeria was developed by African slaves who hid their self-defense practice within the guise of dance). Each method has strengths and weaknesses, just as each instructor or dojo might appeal to one person while turn off another. What’s important is that you attend at least once per week so you can develop the reflexes to shake yourself out of a state of paralysis if you ever get attacked.

What about online classes, cardio-boxing, or books? These are all great methods to learn basic moves, but you won’t develop the necessary reflexes until you actually block real-life punches or hits. If somebody ever tries to hurt you, your body needs to react while your mind is still in denial. There is also a camaraderie which will develop between you, your instructor, and your fellow classmates that will keep you moving forward long after that online video class has grown stale.

2.     Give Yourself Permission to Suck

When I first started karate, I was 85 pounds overweight, with three children (one a newborn), bad knees, and a propensity to freeze when somebody got into my face. For two years I couldn’t kick any higher than my opponent’s shin, I was always out of breath, and to this day, rheumatoid arthritis prevents me from delivering a solid side-kick on my left side. But after a while, the scale began to nudge down, I grew more confident, and those hard-won reflexes finally began to kick in. They say it takes 888 times to practice a new skill, so I’d laughingly call out each time I failed miserably at a new maneuver and remind myself it’s just a numbers game. You may not be a natural athlete, but anybody, fat or fit, young or old, timid or brave, can learn to deliver an absolutely devastating tornado kick if you practice it “X-number” of times.





Giving Bob some kicks

Okay, so “Bob” is shorter than me and dressed like a 1970’s pimp. But at least I can finally kick higher than my opponent’s shin.

Remember, it’s not about winning competitions (though if that’s your thing, it feels great to win a trophy or medal). The true purpose of learning self-defense is so that, if you’re ever surprised by a bad guy on the street, rather than freeze, you’ll snap out of your paralysis quickly so you can hit back and get away.

3.     Avoid Trouble – Situational Awareness is 9/10ths of Self-Defense

We’ve all heard advice to avoid “that part of town.” But in this era of District Attorneys refusing to prosecute violent leftists, politicians emptying their jails of violent criminals due to covid-19, roving gangs of illegal immigrants (such as MS-13), not to mention “fiery, but mostly peaceful protests”, avoiding trouble now extends to watching the news, being aware of protests in your area, reading survival blogs, and remaining vigilant in a way that has not been necessary since the founding of our nation.

Practice ‘Gray Man Principal.’ No matter how bad@$$ you are, the best fight is the one which you avoid. And read up on ways to secure your home or business. The best self-defense move is to reside in a home or business that bad guys can’t break into in the first place!

4.     Learn Self-Defense Skills from Many Different Disciplines

While mastering a “method” is a laudable goal, it’s highly unlikely, if you need to defend yourself in real life, that your attacker will follow the same rules as a method purist. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to adapt.

Within the martial arts world, not only will you find karate, aikido, jujitsu, kung fu, taekwondo, and boxing, but hundreds of sub-arts, including hybrid schools of self-defense such as mixed martial arts and Krav Maga. And this doesn’t include the use of weapons, ranging from the Japanese katana, to the German longsword, to other “primitive” weapons such as knives, nunchaku, or a police baton.

What’s important is that you assess what tactics and weapons a potential attacker may use, and then learn how to avoid, thwart, block, or disarm them. While I pray that I’ll never get into a knife-fight, at least once a month, we practice disarming a knife-wielding assailant. It’s also useful to learn how to wield alternative weapons, such as pepper spray, tasers, and mace, along with “found” weapons such as your walking stick, a tactical key-fob, or the contents of your purse or briefcase.

5.     Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight, but….

Learning martial arts is not a substitute for modern weaponry such as shotguns, rifles, and handguns, No matter how much I might wish that I could take out a dozen men like Black Widow, physics makes it difficult for a moderately-sized man or woman, no matter how well you train, to prevail in an extended fight against a larger, more aggressive opponent without using an “equalizer.”

Why bother learning martial arts at all if you already know how to use a gun? First of all, acquiring a gun is almost impossible in many states. Secondly, many private places where large numbers of people congregate—such as shopping malls, churches, and government buildings—prohibit guns. Third, in a prolonged SHTF situation or government gun-grab (I’m looking at you, Australia), you may not be able to purchase ammunition. Fourth, since most people don’t walk around brandishing their gun, a well-developed blocking reflex could mean the difference between being taken out immediately by a surprise attack, versus buying a few seconds to either reach for your gun or run for safety.

But perhaps the biggest reason to learn both (physical self-defense, as well as weapons) is that only carrying a firearm limits your response to only threats of death or great bodily harm or you face arrest (which the homeowners in St. Louis, Missouri, found out the hard way after “peaceful protesters” smashed down their gate and threatened their home). With the Second Amendment on life support in many parts of the country, soon we may find ourselves with no other option.

6.     Teach Self-Defense to Your Spouse and Your Kids

The most important job you will do on God’s green earth is teach the next generation the skills they need to survive. Although my own father shamed us for not being “tough,” he failed to teach me how to deal with that problem, so when a bully targeted my kid, even though I lacked the skills myself, I went in search of a teacher and made sure, not only that they learned it, but that -I- learned it, as well..

It’s also important to discuss these difficult topics with your spouse. They may feel apprehensive or skeptical about learning self-defense, but even if they refuse to accompany you to classes, you can still raise awareness by talking about things such as “defensive circles” or how difficult it might be for you to respond against a variety of potential threats.

The anti-gun lobby and Hollywood have done a magnificent job of brainwashing people into thinking that an unarmed homebody can wield kung fu moves to dissuade a rapist or disarm a gang of home invaders. There’s nothing like having an opponent cross a room, in milliseconds, and remove your rubber knife to teach you the reality of a post-law world. It will give you “street cred” when you tell your spouse that you want to buy a bigger gun, try to convince your best friend to attend a home-invasion defense class, or argue with your neighbor that defunding the police is a bad idea.

7.     Cultivate an Aura of Empowerment (but don’t advertise it)

Most criminals search for an easy target. Unless they bear you a personal vendetta, or you have something they really want, they’d usually rather knock you down, take what they want, and leave, all without the hassle of a prolonged fistfight, shots fired, or the police intervening. In 1981, sociologists Betty Grayson and Morris I. Stein published a now-famous study[1] where they outlined many of the inadvertent “clues” that victims gave of which attracted an assailant.

While learning martial arts won’t guarantee you’ll give off that magical “don’t f—k with me” vibe, it will train you to remain alert, walk with confidence, make eye contact, and to react immediately if somebody violates your defensive zone. Once you’ve studied self-defense, you’ll instinctively move into a “ready stance” whenever you’re approached (a “ready stance” is an erect stance which enables you to react quickly to another person’s movement) and remain vigilant against quick, aggressive action.

Conversely, while it’s good to give off signals that you are probably more trouble than you are worth, in today’s upside-down world, gangs of leftist thugs are roaming the streets in packs, searching for “right-wing bigots” to gang up on, harass, beat up or even murder. Operate on the “gray man principal”, try to blend in, and if you find yourself in a tight situation, first try to “disarm” your attackers by being agreeable, empathetic, or even humorous, depending on what the situation demands.

If you do ultimately have to kick an assailant’s @$$, in this era of smartphone-cameras, the fact that you appear to have not been looking for trouble and did behave in an agreeable, non-violent manner (right up until the point that they hit you first and you defended yourself) will go a long way towards thwarting the attempts of a left-wing prosecutor to put the blame on you instead of your assailant.

In this topsy-turvy age of “fiery, but mostly peaceful protests,” the refusal of police and politicians to clean up our streets, and empowered criminals, learning self-defense is an important part of your long-term SHTF plan. I hope to punch you, literally (but gently), in the very near future. Maybe you’ll kick me in the stomach? And then we’ll laugh, go out for a drink, and compare our long-term food stores.

I hope to see you at a nearby dojo!

About the Author: Anna Erishkigal is a second-degree blackbelt in USA Urban Goju karate, a suburban prepper, and the author of eleven books, including The Caliphate: A Post-Apocalyptic Suspense Novel and the award-winning epic fantasy series, Sword of the Gods. Many of her books have been translated into Spanish and Afrikaans.

[1] ‘Attracting Assault: Victims’ Nonverbal Cues‘, Betty Grayson, Morris I. Stein, Journal of Communication, Volume 31, Issue 1, March 1981, Pages 68–75.


    1. True to a degree, but let us not distract from all the other benefits to this article. This article demonstrates passion, drive, honor, the value of self defense, family bonding, and exercise (among others).

      Simply trying to pass and smash in order to dismiss the hard work this author put in seems strange.

    2. Grappling arts are indeed important, but most fights are won or lost with just situational awareness and getting in the first decisive kick or punch. I worked my way through college as a security guard. Many of the company’s contracts were at public events where alcohol was served. So I’ve personally witnessed a half-dozen serious adult fisticuffs. All but one of those was over within five seconds, and none of them had any grappling. Twice, I saw fights that ended with punches to the throat and one that ended with a solid kick to the groin.

    3. I agree with JWR. Most thugs aren’t BJJ masters or have any significant martial arts training. Being able to strike quickly and definitively will most likely shock your opponent giving an advantage.

    4. So you end things before they go to the ground. Situational awareness helps with that. Practicing hitting first and hard helps with that too.

      Tournament rules are for tournaments. In a survival situation–fighting off an attacker or defending your family–no one cares about the distinction between styles, and there are no illegal hits. The winner is the one who disables the other and lives to tell the tale.

    5. @SH – hah-hah! Yes… My eldest daughter (the one kicking her little brother) went on to compete two years in her high school wrestling team. We learned not to let her get a grip on us or we were going down and STAYING down. But honestly, prolonged combat wasn’t the goal in signing my kids (and later me) up for martial arts. I simply want everybody to have a fighting chance.

    You are a wellspring of unending strength to your family. Your courage to begin, and dedication to make it a life practice is admirable. Thanks for the encouraging reminder that our children are our greatest treasures and purpose!

    1. @wingfootjr – thank you for that uplifting comment. I believe that it’s REALLY IMPORTANT that we teach the young people in our lives self-reliance, which includes not just how to handle themselves physically in a dodgy situation, but also the individual component-skills of preparedness and prepping. There’s no better feeling in the world than when one of your “mini-me’s” independently demonstrates a skill.

      1. “There’s no better feeling in the world than when one of your “mini-me’s” independently demonstrates a skill.”

        Amen to this!!! It is THE COOLEST thing to watch one of them “get it.”

        Thanks for this article. It was very informative and inspirational too. I often use my kids as a reason/excuse why I can’t do things to take care of my own self, and of course that is valid to some small extent, but here you were starting this journey when you had a newborn to take care of…

        1. @Bear – I find I will do things for my KIDS that I’d slough off for myself. Whether it’s learning martial arts, or boning up on a survival skill such as wilderness survival or making cheese, the motivation to turn around and teach it to my kids usually makes the difference between sitting home on my butt vs. going out to DO SOMETHING.

  2. Martial Arts and Guns go together. It’s not one or the other. Grappling and gaining distance are primary training. Learning to draw, when to draw and how to shoot without shooting through yourself or others in a fight is a must.
    Incorporating stick and knife into it for a more complete combatives is best.
    I’m curious as to what y’all do to test your skills in fighting.

    1. @Matt in Oklahoma – up until covid-19 lockdowns, we sparred in class a couple of times per week. I don’t think of ourselves as all that “good”, we’re not a MMA dojo, we’re pretty low-key, but the few times we’ve gone to competitions, I was surprised at how well we all did against the so-called “big” schools in actual fights. I don’t think that’s because we’re all that “great.” I think its because you make a very good point, that most so-called “martial arts” are long on showy katas and short on actual sparring.

  3. As an enthusiastic advocate of martial arts I agree with everything said in this article. But the one thing that is so often unsaid is this; in a real fight the stronger person will win. Yes you can sucker punch/kick someone and end the fight or even get lucky and get the knockout punch in, it happens. But the persistent myth in martial arts is that a 120 lb housewife can beat a 200 lb man in a fight because she knows a little Karate. After all that’s what we see in the movies, right?

    1. I disagree. Training and discipline are imperative. As a small man (yes 120 lbs) all my martial arts opponents were larger than me. I have full contact sparred against opponents ranging up to 230 lbs and beaten them. Training, discipline and a little of the unexpected.

    2. @OneGuy – I whole-heartedly agree that it takes a phenomenal amount of skill and training to beat physics, and that in a prolonged fight, physics will usually win. Not always … Bruce Lee was not a large man. But if a small man (or woman) wants to prevail against a larger opponent in a prolonged fight, they will really need to be at the top of their game.

    3. Again I will say that I agree with the author. The point is that now she has some skills and some confidence. My advice is if you meet someone in a dark ally that wants your life or your wallet hit first with the most lethal strike you have and get out of there. Why? If martial arts is so great, why not stick around and give the perp what he deserves? The simple answer is that more than likely the perp has done this before and if you were lucky enough to catch him off guard with a sucker punch you will not get that chance again. He is probably over 200 lbs and has beaten other people up since the 1st grade. Now he is pissed and he is not going to be sucker-punched again. You will lose.

      Most martial arts is not for real. That is you cannot hit your opponent and break bones and gouge out eyes. The liability would put the dojos out of business. It is more like a choreographed dance class where you make a move and your partner/opponent makes a move etc. It is not a fight. If you think it is a fight you are kidding yourself. It is training, it is much better than not learning martial arts but it is no substitute for being in the trenches and weighing 220 of all muscle and having a bad attitude. A real street fight that isn’t determined in the first punch is almost always won by the bigger stronger guy. And usually it is the bigger stronger guy with street fighting experience that is going to confront you out of the blue. And let me hasten to add that it isn’t just size/height/strength. Some of the toughest guys are 5’8″ and weigh 160 and they will take you apart.

      Best advice I can offer is to act like you don’t have it in you to fight and find that opening for the best sucker punch (kick) and get out of there. I mean run as fast and as far as you can. If you are lucky you will put the attacker down for 15-30 seconds to a minute and you can get away. But do not think because you got a black belt while training with good friends that you are a tough guy. The tough guy can literally lift you up over his head and body slam you on the concrete and after you punch him that is exactly what he will do. Then he will take what he wants from you and kick you in the head a few times for good measure.

      1. Your “Dance Kata” assertion may be true for those “Buy-a-Belt” strip mall dojos that you see in some cities and suburbs. But the serious martial arts instructors in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are indeed dead serious about full contact and you will come home with some bruises and welts, after sparring. This is why it is important to first do your Due Diligence when searching for a dojo. When you phone them, ask about “full contact” and possible bruises. If they assure you: “You won’t get hurt”, then pass them by.

        One of the nicest compliments that I’ve ever received in my life was from a dojo master who noticed that I trained hard for two years, yet I never “tested” for a different color belt, in Tae Kwon Do. He said: “I can see that you are old-fashioned and just want to gradually turn your white belt into a dark belt, with sweat and grime. Honorable.”

        1. Well said, JWR. I have had several broken bones (ribs, fingers and toes), spinal injuries, black eyes, pinched nerves and torn ligaments all from sparing in class.

          I know for a fact that smaller people can absolutely wreck a larger persons day.

      2. OneGuy, I have a lot I could say in response to the differences between your first reply and your follow up.

        But, instead of me going on a long winded reply, I’ll just say this: consider taking a BJJ class or a Muay Thai class. When you are crawling out (literally due to exhaustion) at the end of class with the need to vomit, you may have a change of opinion and a new understanding of humility. Please report back if you take that step.

        1. I’m 77 YO, my exercise is walking. I boxed for 5 years from age 11 to 16. I spent 20 years in the military and exercised/lifted weights during that time and for some 20 + years afterwards. I took Kung Fu for years. I don’t consider myself an expert but there are few “experts”. You believe BJJ is the best but for straight martial arts I think it is Muay Thai. But for pure street fighting it is probably Krav Maga. NOT the Krav Maga that is taught at strip mall sites but the real thing as the Israeli Defense Force does it.

          If I were confronted tomorrow by a thug I would act like I’m complying and try for a speed straight finger jab to the Adams apple. If I hit it, you could be a Muay Thai, BJJ Krav Maga expert and you would still be useless for the next two weeks or more. Because 90% of street fights are won or lost in the first punch OR by brute strength and NOT by black belts in your closet.

          This argument is like the Ford vs Chevy argument. No one is going to win it. But I’m telling you that a black belt is not worth a damn when a genuine tough thug wants your wallet. First punch is good, being bigger and stronger is good, having ‘actually’ fought more than a few times as an adult is good. Black belt from the strip mall dojo means very little.

          1. Agree to disagree. In this article, the author shows the willingness to overcome obstacles in ways that provide all very useful attributes.

            Like a few here in the comments, I could have chosen to start blabbing about how my way, or my experiences are better than hers (which is subjective and not true), and in doing so, I completely dismiss all of the authors hardwork. I do not see the value in that, and because of my experiences on this topic, I feel confident that I do not need to internet warrior scenarios. BJJ and other arts can speak for themselves.

            We are on Survivalblog, and IMO, what it takes to survive is more about attitude and drive to learn skills than it is to showboat. I do not care which martial arts a person does, anyone can lose a fight. Its not hard. Yet, if a persons cardio is solid and they have training under pressure, they have a huge advantage, regardless of size. Its all too often have I seen large scary dudes gas out in less than 10 seconds, then they become rag dolls.

            Anna, great job on your article and your efforts! Keep going!

  4. “ suburban mother with three kids”. You lost me when you put your children above your husband. That’s not biblical. It’s God, husband, children, and other folks last. That’s why I married an Asian girl. Her husband (me) is above our children. She calls herself wife. Our kids call her mom. There’s an old saying don’t call yourselves a Christian but let your friends and family. Don’t call yourself mom but allow your children. Take the more subservient title as wife means servant of your husband. The way God intended it.

    1. Sorry, going to push back on your post. You infer something that is not stated. You do not have the Biblical interpretation of scripture correct. And no, a wife is NOT the “servant” of her husband. She is his helper/mate. The man is to honor and respect her, even die for her, as Christ has done for the church. And she, in return, *willingly* submits, as Christ did to His Father God in God’s perfect plan for Christ’s sacrifice. I think applying your version of the truth to a beautifully written and inspiring article of this woman’s courage is a travesty. You have the option to retract it.

      While I’m on a roll, saying that is the reason you married an Asian woman is very disrespectful to Asian women and women in general. I could speak even more harshly to you, but I’m only speaking up in defense of the writer who did a beautiful job, and is an excellent role model for her children and others. I’m sure her husband is very proud of her accomplishments.

    2. @Jefferson Davis – my husband is a wonderful, kind man. He is not, alas, interested in learning martial arts, learning to shoot a gun, or at all interested in prepping. Nor am I interested in learning how to engineer the computer systems you’ll see in 10 years or coding .html. We each do our part. We agree that we each do our part. It’s not my husband’s “thing” but he doesn’t object to it and, more importantly, he’s worked hard over the last 12+ years to fund martial arts lessons for four separate people. Not sure how you got “doesn’t put duty to husband over children” out of that?

    3. ” …“ suburban mother with three kids”. You lost me when you put your children above your husband.”

      Nowhere in English grammar does it state that the sequence items are listed in a sentence automatically indicates their relative importance to the author. I would express regret about your reading comprehension skills, except for the fact that better reading skills won’t necessarily fix such a criticizing mind.

      “Take the more subservient title as wife means servant of your husband. The way God intended it.”

      Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. If you would read the Bible, you would see how He did that: He HUMBLED Himself and DIED for us. He became as a slave to all so that He would then be exalted. He never DEMANDED we serve Him. (We’ve got free will.)

      (P.S. It’s kind of rude to infantilize your wife. “Girl” indicates a child. I hope she was in fact a woman when you got married.)

  5. So often I see stories here that reflect my own life. As a kid I was very small and my family moved several times resulting in different schools. Third grade the bullying started and eventually ended in a fight which I lost but apparently earned enough respect for it to stop. Fourth grade bullying but no fight. Fifth and sixth grade lost the fight again. Seventh grade, we were lined up along the gym class wall when I couldn’t take it anymore and lashed out giving him a black eye. The gym teacher said guess you picked the wrong kid to bully. Eighth grade two guys grabbed while a third punched me in the stomach repeatedly, I laughed at him, then my friend showed up with a teacher. Ninth grade as I being pushed from behind, I spun around and hit him square on the nose with a haymaker continued my spin to a full 360 and took the fearing for my life seeing as he was much bigger than me. He got a bloody nose and I got suspended. We moved that summer and I joined the football (at 112 lbs) as first string benchwarmer. One time someone tried to bully me and three team members backed him into a corner an never again was I bullied. At 20 I got into tae kwao do eventually earning a black belt. I also attended many seminars highlighting various other martial arts. After tae kwon do I got a black belt in shorin ryu lum.

    1. @BWL – Wow! I can so relate to that story! When you mention joining the football team, I think you raise an important topic which another writer covered yesterday, that as preppers we tend to think a lot like lone wolves, but we really need to find like-minded people and band together for protection. (Referenced article: “OPSEC Problems for Preppers” by The Lone Canadian)

      TaeKwonDo is a FIERCE martial art. The Koreans got bullied for centuries by the Japanese before kicking them out, so their martial arts really reflect their “not going to take any more guff” attitude. I rode on the same plane with the Russian State Taekwondo Team on their way back from the World Taekwondo Championship many years ago, when I was still a green belt. Outclassed? Just a bit?

      1. It’s funny you mention Koreans. The toughest fight I ever had was with a Korean. He was a foreign exchange student that also went to the shoren ryu dojo. We also had similar tae kwon skills. The match lasted over 20 minutes much of it grappling. I don’t remember much of the fight but I did get the advantage and was able to deal what would have been a incapacitating blow. We were exhausted afterwards.

  6. Thank you so much for this inspiring article! Short version: I recall when one of my daughters was bullied in school by another girl… I told her to hit back with all she had since the school cared less about protecting her. The next day, she was shoved and hit, and she punched that girl as hard as she could. My daughter was suspended. I made sure the school also suspended the other girl and threatened additional action. I told my daughter to enjoy her time off from school and was proud of her for defending herself. She wasn’t bullied again after that. It gave her great confidence to know that it was not “unchristian” to defend oneself.

    A long time ago, it was considered “normal” to defend oneself, even in the schoolyard. School administrators and teachers knew that sometimes kids had to work things out physically and kept a watchful eye over it, intervening when necessary, as did other kids. Kids would protect a classmate against a bully. These days, everything is a “micro aggression” if you don’t tow the party line in speech, dress, or belief system. Teachers themselves can bully children into submission of their radical ideas. The world has gone mad.

    I found this article very helpful and interesting. Thank you.

    1. @SaraSue – you are so right that schools have become overly “pacifist” while simultaneously failing to protect our kids! And now we see those attitudes being carried out to the larger world, where aggressors get a free pass, but victims get prosecuted.

      I have a rule for all three of my kids. If somebody picks on them, they must first politely ask the person to stop. If the bully persists, they should go to an authority figure and ask that person (teacher, policeman, etc) to make the bully stop. If the bully -still- persists and physically hits them, then they have my permission to hit them as hard as they can and knock them onto their backs … I will back them up … as that line of defense (ask, tell, before react) gives me grounds to sue the school for failure to protect. Alas, in the larger world, the powers-that-be have decided that they don’t have a “duty to protect” us big people, so its up to us to protect ourselves.

      I hope your daughter will become interested in learning self-defense? My story is “goofy,” but I write it because in a post-law world, it’s important for EVERYBODY to know how to handle themselves physically, even if it’s only a few surprise moves.

      1. As I think back, that was my rule too. The request to stop was ignored. The school authorities refused to help, so that’s when I counseled my daughter to defend herself. She went on to be very athletic and accomplished! She can shoot straight too.

        1. @ThoDan – I don’t think we disagree. Perhaps I wasn’t clear that I meant what we call in karate the “pre-fight” stage where somebody is berating you, getting into your personal space, and perhaps pushing (not shoving) you back. At that point, I would prefer that my children attempt to defuse the situation or appeal to an authority figure rather than throw the first punch. Once first blood is drawn, all bets are off. Flatten them.

          In a “street” situation, you may not have that “pre-fight” stage. A bad guy might just attack. That’s where it’s important for kids to have experience actually sparring (fighting), not just performing katas and showy kicks.

          1. This prefight stage devolves normally in my experience into the assault/fight stage in my personal experience.

            So I could understand when my children don’t wait for the first blow, they shouldn’t provoke it but if somebody threatens them, I would give The John Sheridan Excuse.

  7. Anna, Words cannot express how much I loved your article with your life story. What you have done is pure inspiration.

    I am so sorry for your wounds of an unloving and abusive father. One thing I have learned, is the truth that Jesus is near to the broken hearted…

    Your persistence in strength and overcoming is an example to us all. Thank you so much for sharing.

    May your Heavenly Father’s love fill your heart, Krissy

    1. @cabingirlsmiles – thank you for your kind words and blessing. My father was not a “good” man (he was, literally, a Hell’s Angel), but I rebelled by becoming a decent human being who believes in the Lord. At least he taught me how to shoot at a young age — I’m a decent shot — and butcher a pig. And it made me determined to never allow myself, or my children, to become victims.

  8. Anna, I loved your article. Your life story is inspirational. My prayer for you is that you would feel and know how much your Heavenly Father loves you. You are precious to Him. Blessings, Krissy

  9. My 9 year old started karate. He’s so excited to be able to defend himself and others! He got bullied by some nearby kids (badly)- and headlocked the bully… until the police came. I’m so proud he’s a real man already in his ability to handle conflict (he was protecting some other kids as well)- but he prevailed. I’m a pretty proud papa today 🙂

    Vital article, thanks again SB

    1. @John – so glad to hear your son has enjoyed similar success from being targeted by bullies. I hope you encourage him to keep it up and move all the way up to blackbelt in whichever sub-art he prefers. It teaches the kids respect — for others and themselves — and it teaches them not just to stand up for themselves, but also to have a realistic sense of when to avoid that fight in the first place. It’s also helpful, I think, to teach your children to have a good sense of humor since I’ve found you can defuse many conflicts with empathy or a well-turned joke. So karate, and joke books. Jackie Chan is the master of martial arts humor suitable for kids, I think?

  10. Good article and good advice.
    Women and girls need some martial art skills because they are the victims of sex criminals. Boys and younger men will get into fights. [I’ve been told, having an older sister is worst than having an older brother.]

    An older man will be mugged; usually with an unexpected attack. Sometimes a person is grabbed and pulled into a ‘knock out’ punch. … Once on the ground a man can get kicked in the face or the groin, before the wallet is taken. It’s rare for a grown man to dance around, launching karate kicks at a villain [like in a James Bond movie].

    Martial Arts can teach a man how to elude an attacker, and then get the feet into high gear; unless they’re with the family.

    1. Around here, gangsters will travel in a group. I’m an old man, but when I was in high school, I saw a gangster attack.
    After a public dance, a big tall, red-headed kid got into a pushing match with a peewee gangster. We thought the big kid was going to thump the little kid. However, the peewee gangster was just maneuvering the big kid around.

    All of a sudden, an older gangster ran up behind the big kid, and punched him in the back of head with a pair of brass knuckles. The gangsters then, all ran, and jumped into a gangster getaway car.. There were at least five gangsters with a preconceived plan of attack.
    The big kid had a severe cut to the back of his head, and was dazed. He was >lucky he was tall. The older gangster was short too, and he had to jump in the air to deliver the Sunday punch with brass knuckles.

    2. Years later, in a neighborhood bar, a man played a pool game with a little gangster. The little gangster lost the game; an argument ensued. The man was suddenly confronted by three little gangsters.
    The gangsters rushed up close to the man. … It’s typically a prelude to a stabbing. One gangster has the knife. The other two are a diversion, or there to grab the victims arms. [A stab to the stomach.]

    The man was wise to the gangster tactics. He backed up to a wall and kept one hand over his chest; the other over his stomach. The hands and arms were a few inches from his body. He did NOT try to push the little gangsters away. He was protecting himself from a possible knife thrust.

    Fortunately, some of the other men knew what might happen. They stood up from their barstools and said, “Hey, hey, hey! Get out of here!” The three gangsters didn’t like the odds and walked out; waving good-bye with the single finger salutes. And yes, the man was scared and relieved, because he thought he was going to be stabbed.

    I was sitting down playing a penny ante card game at the time. [My nickname was one beer GGHD, and then time to go home.] …. I learned afterwards, all about the gangster tactics from the wiser bar patrons than me. I saw the event happening. Subsequently, I’ve read about similar attacks, that end with a stabbing.

    3. Long ago in a trade-school, another kid demonstrated how to fight with a stick against a knife attack. [I pretended to be the attacker.] the kid was quick; real quick because of practice. … Currently, I have a wood cane I bought at a Goodwill. [No martial arts training, however] … It’s possible to take the cane into public buildings guarded by the cops and metal detectors. [Unsolicited advice.]

    The trade-school kid took stick-fighting along with a ‘grappling’ martial arts class. My advice is take a class that teaches stick-fighting too. [In the trade school we had to have leather gloves with gauntlets. I didn’t get hurt.] … The cane can become a defensive weapon.

    Better yet, move to the Redoubt Region, and carry a gun. It’s safer there too.

    1. @GGHD – I saw that three-man diversion gang-stabbing that you talk about demonstrated when I took a weekend intensive Philippine “Pekiti Tirsia Kali” stick-and-knife fighting class with Grand Master Apolo Ladra, so yeah, it’s a nasty, but known trick if you’ve ever had to deal with street gangs. Most of our classmates were law enforcement, there to learn less-lethal disarmament techniques. He’s from the Philippines, but teaches a circuit around the world and cycles through the USA every year, so if you ever have a chance to take one of his seminars, I highly recommend it. Guy is faster than a striking cobra.

      BTW – I got “stabbed” by three very good-natured “gang” members during that demo. It would take a LOT of practice to be able to actually disarm the three attackers in real life. Your friend at the bar was very lucky he understood the “play.”

    1. @Old Welder – hilarious fighting song 🙂

      The hulk of a man with a beer in his hand
      he looked like a drunk old fool
      And I knew if I hit him right
      why I could knock him off of that stool
      But everybody they said watch out
      hey that’s the Tiger Man McCool

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