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The Alpinist

Mountain climbers fascinate me, especially solo climbers, who pit themselves against nature with minimal equipment and support. When I watch them climb, I see individuals who face brutal conditions and survive, even thrive and feed off the triumph of overcoming them. They pursue goals that may seem meaningless to many of us, by working their

How your self-defense strategy will fail

On Monday, I encouraged you to challenge yourself when you train for self-defense. The general idea of learning how to solve problems under pressure so that you are resilient against an attacker is an important one, but sometimes it can be difficult to imagine exactly what kinds of issues might come up. Today, we’ll explore

Why you need to prepare to fail

For most of us, preparing for self-defense starts with imagining a particular type of bad guy and attack, and continues with visualizing a specific outcome that we want. It can be as simple as anticipating a nasty remark our nemesis might toss our way one morning and planning the witty and cutting reply we’ll spit

The mindset you really need to win a fight

Many of us have some idea in our minds about how we would respond if we were verbally or physically attacked by another person. Often, especially if we are already a few steps into our self-defense journey, we imagine that we will have pithy words for the attacker, and that we will easily and successfully

The power of apology

A video has been floating around this week, of a man who was shot by his neighbor in a parking lot outside their homes. He was being dropped off by a friend and coworker, who had pulled his truck into the neighbor’s assigned parking spot. As his wife came out with their newborn infant to

Safety from without and within

A year ago this week, I published an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer that explored how who I am can contribute to my vulnerability to violence and unpleasantness. It’s disturbing to realize that bad things can happen to people who are like us in some way, to us, but it’s even more disturbing when we

Subway active shooter: what you can do

The news cycle moves fast, but one of the big ones this week was the mass shooting in the NYC subway system a few days ago. It was a worst-case scenario in many ways: a busy commute time, a crowded subway car en route between stations, smoke bombs affecting visibility, and a gunman spraying bullets

“But it works for me!”

You’ve all seen at least one person who dismisses criticism of a technique or a piece of equipment because “it works for me.” Some of you, even me, have been that person. In an age when lived experience is an important part of truth, it’s not surprising to run into the position that the individual

There’s no crying in training…or is there?

Today, I’m going to revisit (with some light edits) a topic that I talked about on Blasting Beauty many years ago because, as it turns out in conversation with Healthy Buffalo and others, it’s still something that comes up in our training today. It’s an anxiety that many of us have when it comes to

Testing, testing, 1-2-3, testing

Learning self-defense skills is important. If you’re here, you probably already know that self-defense isn’t all about mindset and that it requires actually knowing how to do certain things. They may be “hard” skills like hands-on fighting, delivering pepper spray into the eyes of a bad guy, or shooting a gun. They may be “soft”

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