Fighting/Self-Defense Articles

By request, I’ve gathered the posts I’ve written on self-defense and fighting–many of which are the result of Patreon support–so they’re easy to find.   While not “how to write” articles, writers will find the contents help flesh out their understanding and use of violence and a fighter’s perspective.

If I’ve missed including one of my self-defense articles here, I’d be grateful if you pointed it out to me!

Making the Nice-Guy Challenge A Safe One

August 18, 2016

While I could say that injury was caused by my moment of inattention, or my failure to clearly tell the adult student to wait a moment, the source of the failure was really a single decision: I’d assumed, based on his past training and present niceness, that he had the same understanding of partner-work as I did.  Read more…

The No-Fun Public Challenge From Strangers

July 16 2016

Every now and then, the mention of martial arts in a group conversation results in an edged challenge from a stranger who—apparently threatened by the very thought of martial arts—wants to cut down that threat right away, with words or with fists. Most do come from men (though I did have a fearsome experience with a woman who claimed she had top-secret CIA training she wanted to demonstrate…).

Depending on the setting and company, these challenges range from a middling annoyance to a heart-racing adrenaline trigger. Every martial arts student will have different reactions and different methods to deal with the challenges, depending on a combination of personality, experience, and training philosophies. Every instructor will have different advice, based on the same. This is mine.  Read more…


The Snarky Partner

June 8, 2016

Train or talk about martial arts and self-defense long enough, and someone will invariably want to test you.  It’s usually annoying or amusing to varying degrees, depending on the person’s attitude, but it can sometimes be frightening.

I’ll talk about that frightening aspect next month.  This time, I want to talk about a specific sort of challenge most often laid down before the new student whose combination of budding knowledge and excited inexperience makes them vulnerable to emotional undermining.  Read more…

Putting “Run Away!” In Its Proper Context

March 24, 2016

The temptation to make “run away” the foundational principle of self-defense lies in its simplicity.  But since the advice is usually given rather than taught, its limitations are rarely considered, and how to use it as a successful and integrated portion of an overall strategy isn’t much discussed.  Read more…

Set A Choke, Break A Choke — Part Two

February 2, 2016

Being choked from behind—when the attacker uses biceps and forearm as a vice on the sides of the neck for that blood choke—is a very different experience. It can be more of a “Hey, what are doing back there?” experience because the pain isn’t always as acute as the air choke. By the time you hit the, “Hey, I feel funny…” realization, you’re halfway to any set of techniques being useless because everything below the neck will soon stop listening to you.  Read more…

Set A Choke, Break A Choke — Part One

January 31, 2016

Being choked is a frightening thing. Really frightening. …  And with good reason. Some well-set chokes can incapacitate a person in seconds. Some can cause a lasting and/or fatal injury in even less time, even though unconsciousness and death take longer to occur. There isn’t much time to escape, and the stakes are high if you don’t.  Read more…


 Where the Boundaries Are Drawn

November 25, 2015

Statistically, the larger danger is not the creepy stranger lurking in the bushes, waiting to pounce.  It’s the family member or acquaintance who keeps his behavior just inside the lines of what society tells us we should expect to accept, the level of behavior we should treat with subtlety and civility, until he’s ready to attack.

But the primary danger is where society puts those linesRead more…


Keeping Our Men Safe

October 29, 2015

After writing on camping-while-female, I wondered where to find statistics on the relative dangers of men who dared to venture outside the home. It looks like folks in Australia have collected some data on the matter. (The linked article includes links to source material as well.) …


What Does Blair Bring to the Woods?

October 22, 2015

In my recent post on camping while female, I mentioned I bring weapons that are legal and that I’m trained to use. Out of curiosity, I asked what folks envisioned those weapons might be. Most of the answers involved firearms.

Guns are the default, truly. When we hear armed, we think “gun.” When we hear weapon, we think “gun.” When we watch crime dramas, we see “gun.” When we watch the news, we see “gun.” So it’s natural to assume the discussion of weapons concerns guns. And, for anyone familiar with and comfortable with guns, it’ll seem odd to hear I am, too, but have made the decision to leave them behind when I camp alone.  (Read more…)


Five Things To Avoid When You Want To Learn Self-Defense

September 12, 2015

Someday I’ll talk about how great martial artists can be crappy teachers, how many don’t become truly good teachers until they’ve gained depth and breadth of life experience, about how giftedness in any art or skill tends to decrease one’s baseline ability to teach it. Today isn’t that day.

Instead, I’m going to offer five things that’ll help you screen out unhelpful self-defense offerings. More specifically, we’re going to look at some of the silliness martial arts schools and instructors use to hook you into a program that—no matter how much the instructor believes in it—won’t be of that much help to you if you’re attacked. (Read more…)


After the Smack (or Break, or Burn, or Stab, or…)

May 3, 2015

There are bunches of little guides out there on how fantasy writers can realistically and vibrantly portray combat.  Information on everything from edged weapons and individual duels to archery and battle formations is fairly easy to find.  But not as much hoopla surrounds the aftermath of those fights—the small injuries, the crippling injuries, and the physical/emotional life-long consequences.  It’s simple to Google for “broken leg” and come up with a pile of guidance from modern medical sites.  But that’s only part of the story.  (Read more…)


The Purpose of Kata

July 22, 2015

A friend recently asked me about the purpose of kata. I gave a short answer, then realized how different today’s answer was from the answer I might have given ten years ago, or even five years ago. My understanding has changed — not only because of my training, but because of my teaching experience.  (Read more…)


Fighting Isn’t a Failure

November 25, 2013

True or false: “If you have to fight, you’ve already done something wrong.”

If you’re male, or female but educated in self-defense primarily by males, you will say True.  If you’re female, aware of the dynamics that most commonly lead to real self-defense situations, you will say False.  If you teach self-defense, and want your students to understand those dynamics, you will say, It’s a pile of crap, and believing it could get you killed.  (Read more…) 


I Thought He Was Taller

August 11, 2013

As much as we (using “we” in the most general sense) like to believe we are empathetic creatures at heart, even the best of us have blind spots. It’s difficult to understand how one person’s experience feels on a visceral level unless we have a similar experience to which we can compare it.  (Read more…)


More On That Self-Defense Stuff

April 13, 2013

Look: I respect any woman who has trained so long—particularly a woman who began at a time when women weren’t much wanted or expected to be in a dojo. That’s a woman like one of my own primary instructors, whose courage and determination made the mat a safer and more welcoming place for me to be in more recent years. But I can’t help pointing out when advice can be not all the useful, or useful only to those who have a lifetime of good physical agility and ability.  (Read more…)


Five Things About Throwing People

February 15, 2013

1.   People accustomed to using strength often have a hard time learning to throw, partly because strength permits them to “cheat” on technique if the majority of their training partners are not as strong.  People who are smaller and weaker learn proper technique more quickly because errors in body mechanics are immediately apparent.  (Read more…)


Five Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Self-Defense

December 18, 2012

1.  People who haven’t fought at speed have no idea how fast a fight moves. In the time it takes to count one-Mississippi, you can be struck quite a few times.  You can be maimed.  You can be killed.  There is no moment to come up with a plan. The advantage goes to the one who doesn’t need to think about what should be done next. (Critical consideration, since the average 911 response time can be around seven to eight minutes.)  (Read more…)



Actively Wondering

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