Monday, June 19, 2006

Your kids, martial arts & the internet

By Joel Persinger

The internet is a great tool and one which my family uses all the time. I use it for work, my wife uses it for research and fun and my son uses it to help with his school work. Let's face it; it’s a terrific tool most of the time. However, my wife and I agreed years ago that we would have every content filter known to man on our systems to keep the garbage out and we would never put our children's pictures on the internet. We've just heard too many horror stories about kids who have their faces and locations plastered all over the net for every nutcase in the world to see.

So what's the point Joel? After all this is a martial arts blog. What are you talking about the internet for?

The point is that you don’t “do” martial arts, you live them. The study of martial arts starts with humility. Humility teaches us that we cannot win every fight and that martial studies are not about fighting but learning not to fight. Fighting is done only as a last possible resort. Therefore, we take steps to avoid conflict where possible. Certainly there are conflicts and dangers we can reasonable avoid when it comes to our children.

Take my son for example. He is a teenager now and a 1st degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. He's also 6'1" and 205 lbs. He's a great kid with a good solid head on his shoulders and a good heart. Consequently, I don't worry about him quite like I used to.

Earlier today he helped me demonstrate some martial techniques while one of his friends took some pictures. I had received a number of emails with questions regarding an ongoing class that David Collins and I are teaching in the park and thought the answers would be easier to convey with images. So, I sent the pictures as part of my response to the friends who had asked the questions.

The pictures came out great. Since I got such a good response from friends about them I thought I might post them on the blog for you. I started to do so when a bell went off in my head and a loud voice shouted "what are you doing?!?!?!?!?"

Now look… my son is a big guy and he can take care of himself, but I'm still his dad and I would have to be a USDA prime grade idiot to put his picture on the web where every loony in the world can see it. He may be big and trained, but as my father used to say “any black belt can be beaten by any average kid with a gun and five minutes instruction”. So, I thought “No way Jose, I don’t put my kids in peril”. But even though that’s my attitude I almost slipped and forgot the first rule of self defense and defense of family. The very first thing I learned in my study of martial arts. Be aware of trouble and take steps to avoid it.

You may already have taken steps to protect you kids. You probably know all the parents of all their friends and have been to each parent’s home before your kids can go there. You my have given your teen a cell phone so he/she can call for help if need. You may have spent hours talking with your kids about the dangers of the world. You may even have made sure they were trained to fight as I have with my son and will with my daughter. But even if you’ve done all that and more, the minute you put a picture of your child on the internet you open a box that even Pandora would be terrified of.

So here’s my advice. If you're putting your child’s pictures on the web, I urge you to rethink that decision. At the heart of the martial arts is learning to be safe and keep your kids that way too.

Self Defense Classes

Self Defense Classes - 1st two classes FREE

Learn real world self defense from beginner to advanced levels. We start by teaching you how to avoiding problems in the first place knowing that the fight you can always win is the fight you never get in. You'll learn how to:

* Change your behavior patterns in order to reduce your risk of attack
* Spot trouble before it gets to you
* Calm things down before they escalate
* Defend yourself from a standing position if attacked.
* Defend yourself from the ground if you've fallen or been knocked down.
* Use common objects as self defense tools
* Understand the responsibilities associated with self-defense.

Classes are taught by martial arts experts with experience in law enforcement, security and emergency response. No previous training is required in order to take the class. All classes are taught in a safe and friendly environment and no one has ever been hurt in our classes.

New classes are starting every Saturday from 9:00AM to 10:00AM at

La Mesita Park
8855 Dallas Street
La Mesa, CA 91942

The first two classes are FREE so you can check it out. If you want to continue beyond the first two classes we charge a small fee by class or a discounted fee if you wish to pay monthly. There are no contracts so you can start or stop at any time.

No special clothing is required, just wear something you can be athletic in and bring some water and a beach chair if you want to have a place to sit when we’re demonstrating techniques.

The number of students we will teach is limited so we can give you the attention you deserve. So, you must sign up ahead of time in order to attend.

To sign up or for more information contact Joel at 619-337-3601 or email

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Verbal Judo Briefing

From "Maintaining the 'Semantic Edge' Verbal Judo tactics & techniques with Dr. George.

Thompson In Tactical Communication/Verbal Judo we make a major distinction between natural language and tactical language, the former being dangerous and unpredictable, the latter, safer and more professional.

Natural Language or "Verbal Karate," as I like to call it, is language used to hurt, to attack, or to express personal feelings where not appropriate.

"Verbal Judo" is tactical and re-directive language used to achieve a professional purpose.

In our on-going efforts to train officers to speak more professionally, we ourselves need to use language correctly. Too often police trainers use language loosely which misleads officers. Ideally we should all use similar words when describing the "job." For example, in academies we often stress that officers must be "aggressive". I heard this for months in my academy and then when I hit the streets and got a complaint, I was told I had been "too aggressive!" What does that mean? No one was ever able to explain that to me. I should have been told to be assertive, not aggressive. "Assertive" means to have a positive influence upon, while "aggressive" means to attack, to push ones personality upon another. Should an officer enter my home aggressively, he would meet righteous resistance. Don't, for example, tell me rudely, "Sit down!" I won't do that for anyone in my own home, and I suspect most people feel the same way. By contrast, an "assertive" officer would have said, "Sir, I know it's your home, but for your safety and mine could I ask you to have a seat so we can chat about the issue here?" The "could I ask you" phrase makes all the difference and I would sit. The officer would have had an "influence, a positive impact" upon me created by his respectful tone and request.

Connected to this semantic problem is the police truism I often hear officers relating: "Never Back Up" for it will be read as weakness by the wolves on the street." If one is not going forward, one is retreating backward. This "straight line" thinking is disastrous for two reasons:

  • One, it leaves us but one option: go forward, even if we have blundered in our initial approach. I liken talking to the martial arts for several reasons, one of which is the flexibility suggested by the circular nature of the arts. Should we come on too strong in our approach with someone, for example, we don't back up, we simply change angle. We change the way we approach the subject, we master by adapting and improvising.
  • Two, such advice does not allow us to tactically disengage should we not be capable of handling the situation in front us. Once we believe "Never Back Up," we are trapped, and our ego will get us hurt or killed.

Another critical semantic distinction is this one:. The "aggressive" officer RE-acts to events. The "assertive" officer RE-sponds. The prefix RE means to come back to, to return, so when we React, the act controls us. Reactive officers make mistakes because they are controlled by the action itself. Should an officer lose his temper and snap at someone, he is reacting to their attitude and behavior, letting them shape and control his behavior. The assertive officer, by contrast, REsponds, he re-answers rather than reacts, suggesting greater control. The root word of respond is the Latin 'respondere,' a verb meaning to answer. Communities want responsive officers--not reactive ones--working their streets.

Another confused set of words is sympathy & empathy, a confusion that in police work can be dangerous. The word sympathy means to share feelings with, to be in accord with, whereas empathy (EM from the Latin 'to see through,' and 'pathy' from the Greek meaning 'eye of other) means to understand as if you stood in the others shoes only momentarily.

In police work, we rarely sympathize with anyone, unless it be for a victim, but to maintain the tactical edge we always need to think like those we are dealing with if we are to anticipate their actions. Tactical Empathy is an officer's greatest skill!

And finally, consider the distinction between "anticipate" and "expect." To anticipate means to "see before hand and move to prevent." It would, for example, be good to anticipate a punch and move your head before such landed! The word expect means to "wait for," suggesting greater rigidity of response. Expect a left to the face, for example, and you will get hit with a right or kneed in the groin! Indeed, if you want to test the rigidity of "expect," try this: Approach three people on the corner and expect the one on the right to give you the most trouble. Within two minutes, the one on the right is in fact the most troublesome! We know from acting research that audiences reflect back to you what you put out three times in intensity! When you expect trouble, you generate it! In short, the trained officer is assertive, not aggressive, he responds but never reacts, and because he employs tactical empathy rather than sympathy, he is able to anticipate trouble and move to prevent it, rather than expecting it and causing it! A mouthful, I know, but words do make a difference, and I urge us all to use the same words the same way when we train officers.

Such clarity cuts down on confusion and gives officers a clear idea of how they should perform in the field.


Dr. George J. Thompson is the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm based in Auburn, NY. He has trained more than 175,000 police officers and his Verbal Judo course is required in numerous states.

Doc has created the only "Tactical Communication" course in the world and he has written four books on Verbal Judo, each analyzing ways to defuse conflict and redirect behavior into more positive channels. The Verbal Judo Institute, offers Basic & Advanced courses in the Tactics of Verbal Judo. Doc received his B.A. from Colgate University (1963), his Masters and Doctorate in English from the University of Connecticut (1972), and he completed post-doctoral work at Princeton University in Rhetoric & Persuasion (1979). Widely published in magazines and periodicals, his training has been highlighted in such national media outlets as NBC, ABC, & CBS News, CNN, 48 Hours, Inside Edition, LETN, In the Line of Duty, and Fox news, as well as in the LA Times, NY Post, Sacramento Bee, and other publications.

On a personal note, Doc and Pam are the proud parents of three-year old, Tommy Rhyno Thompson, and Doc, a survivor of throat cancer, has returned to active teaching. He currently offers VJ training on the internet, and has two more books forthcoming, Verbal Judo Leadership: The Hard Right (with Gregory Walker), and Hammett's Moral Vision. You can contact Doc at VJI, Inc., 2009 W. Genesee St. Rd., Auburn, NY 13021, 315-253-0007.

« Last Edit: May 31, 2006, 21:25:30 by Hock

Monday, June 05, 2006

Age and Gravity

By Joel Persinger

Let's face it, we all have the same enemies… age and gravity. So, there are two facts regarding our physical condition that are simply unavoidable. First; as we grow older we will be less able to do what we could do when we were younger. Second; if we actually muster the courage to step out of our front door and live life, we are going to get injured. Of these two facts, I am experiencing both at present

First of all, I am edging up on 50 years of age. This is currently present in my mind because my birthday is coming up. Second, I injured my left leg on Saturday during a martial arts class. So here I am suddenly realizing that I’m older and limping around with a cane while I recover from what my doctor says is probably a torn calf muscle. If the mathematical formula used for calculating estimated healing time by age is correct, it will probably take me three times as long to heal as it would have when I was 18.

Why, you ask, am I telling you that I have suddenly become old and lame? Because if it hasn’t happened to you the chances are good that it’s going to. Therefore, the question is not “if” it will happen, but will you still be able to defend yourself when it does? As I have gotten older my stamina and strength have diminished somewhat and they will continue to do so over time in spite of my best efforts to the contrary. Now that I have an injury my ability to fight is diminished yet again even if only for a few weeks while I heal. So what’s the solution? Do I stop going out my front door into the world? Do I simply give up on the idea of being able to take care of myself? Neither of those possibilities seems appealing to me and since I’m not a movie star or politician hiring a personal security squad is out of the question.

Actually the answer is much easier than you might think. Here is a simple truth for you to ponder; your fighting ability is not completely dependent upon your physical ability. I’m not going to be a UFC champion, so I get to do something that they cannot do… cheat! I can tell you from first hand experience that in a real fight, cheating is the only way to go. Teddy Roosevelt once said “walk softly and carry a big stick”. The basics of this theory as it applies to the average citizen today are as follows:

  1. Avoid trouble in the first place.
  2. Have an equalizer. Here are some that work: A surefire flashlight (blind an attacker and then hit him with it across the bridge of the nose). A Knife (obvious, but make sure it's legal and that you have training to go with it.) A cane (you can take it anywhere and it's a great weapon, but get some training). A gun (only if you have a CCW permit or you are at home and it's legal in your area).
  3. Train to fight injured. Even when you’re not injured, you may start a fight at 100%, but after taking damage you will quickly be reduce to lower percentages. You had better train to fight injured.

As for myself, I have trained to fight with a cane for years and my first martial arts instructor from whom I received my black belt forced us to practice fighting as if we were injured. So, the fact that I have to use a cane to support my injured leg when I walk for the next few weeks only diminishes my fighting ability a small percentage. While my mobility has been reduced, my base is still solid and I have a weapon with which I am very proficient in the cane. This weapon gives me more reach (distance equals time) and increases the damage I can inflict with each strike. In addition I’ve carried a knife for quite some time and train to use it.

After spending a few hours the day I received my injury with my leg elevated and ice on my calf (and my wife telling me to stay on the couch or else!) I got up and moved around a bit to see what my limitations were from a martial point of view. I found that I can still launch a devastating front thrust kick with my good leg. My injured leg limits my mobility but is still strong as a platform provided I don’t do anything that requires rotation on that foot. I also found that I can lift the bad leg to block with my shin and can launch forward to bridge distance by using my good leg for thrust. Retreating and side stepping are a little more difficult, but can be done. Both legs can be used effectively for upward knee strikes. Then I worked with the cane for a while and found that I am just as effective as I was before the injury. Some adjustments needed to be made for certain techniques, but all were manageable.

My wife and I have a home defense plan, so we talked about it for a few minutes and agreed that when we’re home the issues surrounding my injury don’t really matter as much. I will always be able to defend my family at home as long as I can point and pull a trigger. Then again with my son being an avid shotgun competitor on his school’s Trap Team and my wife an avid shooter I may be able to just lie on the couch with ice on my leg and let them defend me for a change.

By the way, having a home defense plan is a very good idea. The fire department is constantly encouraging families to have a plan in case of fire. Why not have one in case of burglary or some other intrusion. Intrusions don’t happen often and in my neighborhood they never happen quite frankly, but the old boy scout motto still applies. "Be prepared"!

But getting back to the subject at hand, here’s the bottom line. We’ve all got to face the fact that we won’t be in top physical shape forever. Even if you’re 20 and in peak shape you will get injured. Take the advice of an old fighter. Train for the days when you won’t be at the top. Remember age, experience and sneakiness often triumph over youth and exuberance.