Holiday Safety Tips

It’s the most wonderful — and distraction-filled — time of the year!  Stay aware of your surroundings and invest in your personal safety by “being present.”  When you feel rushed, harried, or frustrated, take a moment to stop and refocus on the here and now.  Don’t be that person wandering through a dark parking lot with your arms full of shopping bags, wondering where you parked.

Most people are law-abiding, helpful, and good.  However, not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit, and there are thieves and other opportunists just waiting for someone who is isolated, distracted, or otherwise at a disadvantage.

Quick tips:

  • Pay attention when parking, so you won’t be searching for your car when you leave.
  • Have your keys in your hand before you begin walking to your car.
  • Walk out with a group, to avoid isolating yourself.
  • Don’t carry too much at one time; make multiple trips to your vehicle if need be, to avoid making yourself a slow-moving target of opportunity.
  • Ladies, put your purse in the vehicle before loading your purchases, or unloading a shopping cart.  Too many times, a purse is the last thing you’re thinking of…I’ve seen purses on the roofs of cars, and I’ve personally returned a purse that was left in a shopping cart in a “cart corral.”
  • Don’t flash a lot of cash while shopping.  Be organized, and pay by card or take out only the cash you need to pay for your items.
  • Keep close track of your purse, wallet, and phone, and don’t set these items down.  Checkout lines can be hectic, and it’s easy to get momentarily distracted. Be sure to keep purses closed and zipped/latched, and phones and wallets securely and intentionally placed in a front or interior pocket.
  • Listen to your intuition.  Ask Security personnel to escort you to your vehicle; they’ll be glad to assist you.
  • When you get in your vehicle, lock the doors immediately.

Stay focused, stay safe, and have a wonderful holiday season!

Keep Showing Up!

Most people never take a single martial arts or self-defense class.  They never take piano lessons, try ballroom dancing, write a blog, start a business, found a charity, run a marathon, teach a class, or author a book.

However, most of us know martial artists, pianists, ballroom dancers, bloggers, business owners, charity founders, marathoners, teachers, and authors.  These things can be done…and they can be done by you, if you so choose.

The hardest part is showing up the first time…when you’re the newbie, the white belt, the novice, the unpublished writer, or the first-time teacher.  Swallow your pride, grab hold of your hope, sprinkle some ambition and courage on top, and show up.

Keep showing up, and you WILL make progress.  Invest some additional time or practice, and you’ll progress more quickly, hone your skills, and be able to employ new and more advanced techniques in your chosen endeavor.

Consider what you wish you had done a year ago, or even 10 years ago.  Now, take the first step.  Sign up, show up, and keep showing up.

You Have No Idea Who You’re Dealing With


You have no idea who you’re dealing with.   Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash.

If you watch TV or movies at all, you’ve likely heard the trope, “You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”  Awkward grammatical structure aside, it’s true for most daily encounters.

Almost anytime you’re in public — when you walk into a restaurant, get on a bus, attend a concert, or go grocery shopping — you’re quickly surrounded by people you don’t know.  This doesn’t mean you should treat everyone as a threat.  You have a wealth of knowledge and experience at your disposal, and every day you make dozens of assessments about the behavior of people around you that ultimately will affect your safety. Continue reading

The Perfect Woman

the-perfect-womanI see you.  Trying to act casual and fade into the background, hoping nobody notices you. I watch you checking things out, looking at groups of people talking and laughing.  In this massive swirl of humanity, you stand out.  You don’t belong.  You’re alone, out of place.  You don’t interact with the people around you.  You’re not engaging with your surroundings, only waiting.

Who are you waiting for?  Someone who perhaps isn’t paying enough attention?  A young woman who is preoccupied with her smartphone, has her arms full, or seems dejected and is walking alone?  You probably have the perfect woman in mind.

What will you do when you see her?  Will you offer her your assistance?  Will you flirt with her in an attempt to lure her to a more private place?  Will you ask for directions, tell her your child is lost, ask her to help you find your elderly parent, offer her free concert tickets…or will you tell her that she’s beautiful and you’re looking for models just like her?  And when your ruse works, what happens next?

It doesn’t matter what you’re planning.  It doesn’t matter, because I see you, and I’ll take action.   Law enforcement, security personnel, vigilant parents, and “watchdogs” of all types…we all see you.  And you won’t leave here with a victim.  Not today.

Stay safe! Contact the author directly at



Freedom has a price.

freedom-isnt-freeOn Independence Day especially, I contemplate the countless freedoms we enjoy in the United States of America.  Our freedom was paid for with the blood of patriots, and our unalienable rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Your own freedom also has a price.

In order to maintain and enjoy your personal freedom, you must not infringe upon the rights of others; obey local, state, and national laws; pay your bills; and make good choices with regard to mental and physical health and safety.

If you break the law, you may lose your freedom through incarceration.  If you fail to be financially responsible, you could lose the comfort and security of your home, your means of transportation, or even face incarceration.  If you aren’t a good steward of your physical body and mind, you may lose your freedom of movement, forfeit your sight, or even face an early demise due to your own poor decisions.

Making safe choices for yourself can help ensure your own freedom from harm, threat, or grievous injury.   Be aware, stay alert, and be present and thoughtful in your choices and decisions, so you can enjoy the countless freedoms we as Americans – and you as an individual – have.

God bless America.  Stay safe!


No is a complete sentence.

Verbal self defense“No” is a complete sentence.  Anything else either clarifies or amplifies your message.  In terms of self defense, anyone who won’t take “no” for an answer likely doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

It’s okay to say No:

  • No, thank you.
  • No, I don’t want your help.
  • No, I won’t give you my phone number.
  • No, I can’t help you.
  • No, you can’t sit with me.
  • No, I’m not interested.
  • No, I’ll take the next elevator.
  • No, I’ll take the next cab.
  • No, I don’t want to sit with you.
  • No, I won’t go up to your room.
  • No, you can’t join us.
  • No, I’m not okay with that.
  • No, you can’t come in.
  • No, I don’t want to share a cab with you.
  • No, you can’t use my phone.
  • No, you can’t call me.
  • No, I won’t be your Facebook friend.
  • No, you can’t sit with us.
  • No, I won’t loan you $20.
  • No, I won’t let you give me a ride.
  • No, I’m not going anywhere with you.
  • No.

Any of these sentences has the potential to save you from a compromising or dangerous situation, if you’ll simply say the words and mean them.  And if the person doesn’t respond appropriately, know in advance what you’ll do next…and do it with conviction.

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Stay safe!

How to Fight: Two Simple Steps


  1. Don’t do it. You could wind up in the hospital, the court system, or the morgue.  Use every available means NOT to fight.   Apologize.  Make it right.  Draw attention to yourself and the situation.  Clearly state that you don’t want any trouble.  Call the police.
  2. If you must fight, fight like your life depends on it. Commit fully, don’t hold back, and stop as soon as the threat is neutralized.  No one who picks a fight plans on losing, and you never know what advantages they may have.

Every situation is different, so trust your intuition and react quickly.

Stay safe!

How to Choose the Right Martial Arts School for Kids

choose-the-right-martial-arts-school-for-kidsIf you haven’t read my previous post on selecting the right school for adult students, please take a moment to do that, as it will provide context for this information.  

As a martial arts instructor, I evaluate potential students by asking myself:  Will this child be able to learn successfully in my class, without hampering the learning of my other students?

Very young children should not be in a standard martial arts class with all ranks and all ages.  We all believe our children to be prodigies…far more coordinated, talented and brilliant than other kids.   It’s very important, however, that your child is old enough/sufficiently mature to communicate effectively (I need to go to the bathroom/my foot hurts/I don’t understand) and participate fully (listen, understand, and follow instructions) so he or she has a safe, positive experience. Continue reading

How to Choose the Right Martial Arts School: Adult Students


Finding the right martial arts school doesn’t have to be hard, if you ask the right questions.

A lot goes into choosing the right martial arts school, so start by asking the right questions.  Those questions differ somewhat by age.  Younger students do not have their own funds or transportation, and must depend on parents or guardians for guidance.  This post will deal with choosing the best martial arts school for adult students, with a follow-up post for finding the right studio for kids, or helping young students participate in selecting a good martial arts school for themselves.


How far are you willing to travel to take a martial arts class?  Be honest and practical; if you’re time-crunched and will be hurrying across town after work to train, that may not be a viable long-term solution.  Convenience is a plus, and certainly increases your ability to participate in special events, arrive early, or stay late if need be.


How much can you afford to spend on a class?  Note that “more expensive” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be receiving more value.  Continue reading

Susan’s Stalker


Stalking is never okay. No matter what the situation, you cannot control the behavior of another person, nor are you responsible for it.

My friend Susan* has a stalker.  They met through a mutual acquaintance, he asked her out, and she said no.  That should have been the end of the story.  Instead, after she politely declined his dinner invitation, he continued to call and text her.  He acted overly familiar, prying into Susan’s personal life, demanding details and giving the indication that he had been watching her.  She quickly asked him to stop contacting her altogether.

Instead, he began calling at all hours, texting repeatedly and driving by her house.  As he became increasingly aggressive in his pursuit, Susan grew worried for her safety and that of her young son.  She varied her routine, taking different routes to work and coming and going at different times, but still he lurked in parking lots and on nearby streets.  Susan blocked his phone number to eliminate his calls and text messages, but then felt as though she were missing a valuable indicator of his mental state. Continue reading