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Like mini bad guys in the brain, excuses attack us and never the problem.


Yin and yang

CATS Yin and YangThis photo is my cats’ feline interpretation of the yin and yang symbol.

They are at rest and so am I.

At least when it comes to blogging or writing or having much of an online presence.

I don’t know if or when I will be back.

Life is full right now, but of those things you find when you are at rest.

In silence – and in self-defense – I figured things out in my own little way.

Loretta Young


If you need a self defense tip, here ya go:

Bad guys are more insecure than you. They do everything they can to hide this. They belittle, berate, badger, batter, and brow beat. To alter the dynamic, don’t throw this information in their face, but go beyond reactive fear and move into tough-minded, cool-headed, and strong-hearted action. How? You must build your self up — mentally, physically, emotionally — with as much determination as you put into earning a living or raising a family. Why? You are worth it, your family needs you, and you are stronger than you think.


Blessings to you and vaya con dios.

Lori Hoeck


Self defense and emergency thinking skills

selfdefensethinkingWhen most people look at items on an office desk, in a purse, or around the house they see the item and its function. Scissors cut, magazines have articles to read, reflective sunglasses make sunny days easier to bear, right?

Those trained in self defense, emergency thinking, or how to Think Like a Black Belt never limit objects this way.


  • become a hole punch to add a hole in a leather belt to better secure a leg splint
  • gouge, tear, or otherwise create bodily trauma to an attacker
  • pry open a stuck window to escape danger or fire


  • become a splint when rolled and taped tight for a forearm break or small child’s leg
  • create a blunt weapon when rolled up tightly and ends are used
  • when pages are crumpled up acts as insulating barrier against cold or to keep in cold (in an ice chest)

Reflective sunglasses

  • cover eye movements to subtlety assess a threatening situation
  • reflect sunlight to signal aircraft or rescuers
  • help look around corners in a active shooter situation to see if an escape route is clear

Take a new look at what’s around you. Do things have an added dimension to them now?

Photo: Banjo Brown


Self Defense and Principles of Power


Most self defense instructors and martial artists talk about maintaining a Reactionary Gap when confronted with a violent person. This gap is the space between you and the attacker that allows time — time to pull a gun, time to run, time to go from 0 to 60 mentally in preparation to fight.

Getting chest-to-chest or nose-to-nose with someone in a screaming match isn’t maintaining a good Reactionary Gap. Pointing a finger at someone and poking them in the chest with it isn’t maintaining a good Reactionary Gap. Shoving matches are the same.


But, sometimes the Reactionary Gap is gone before you know it. The attacker is suddenly in grabbing range. The time to think about a Reactionary Gap is gone for the moment until you can regain it by your actions.

Most people in smelling or grabbing range of an attacker will freeze or try to ball up into some protected position. If you know four Principles of Power (they come mainly from the grappling arts), this panic doesn’t have to own you.

Here they are*:


People with any common sense don’t lift a heavy object far away from their body at arm’s length. If you have to pick up a heavy box, you hold it close to your body. Why? You are stronger in close.

This doesn’t mean you can easily generate power if your arm is jammed into your own body, but you can execute a powerful elbow into an attacker’s rib inches away from your body. Foot stomps are in-close power moves. So are hammer fist strikes downward onto the nose, knees into the plexus point on the calf, and head butts.


When baseball players wind up to hit a baseball, they are “loading up the spring” so the body’s power can release suddenly. The powerful hits rise up from the feet, travel through the fast moving hips, and direct outward with the arms and hands to the bat. Compare this to a bunt — a slight hit on the ball with a quick tap of the bat as the ball comes in. The first hit uses the source of force from the whole body and sends the ball flying. The other uses a little arm power and the ball only travels a short distance.

The key to more powerful moves is putting the whole body into your counter-attacks. Don’t be like the old film stereotyped woman falling forward to beat her fists ineffectually on the chest of the big burly guy. Get your body into it!


Many traditional martial arts’ punches and kicks drive forward in a straight or linear move, but in close, the arc or circling moves hide more speed and power than you might image.

The previous discussion of the baseball players is a perfect example — the body moves in a circular unwinding motion as the bat follows along in an arc. It would be tough to move a bat in a linear fashion and get anywhere near the same power.

Many of the in-close release moves I teach involve turns, pivots, or other arcing or circling motions to negate the attackers hold or grab.


Have you ever been on a rope tug of war team when the other team decides to let go of the rope? The ones still pulling fall down in a pile. All that force has to go somewhere.

So what if someone grabs and pulls you? I’ve seen this on movies and in videos of actual kidnappings: A man grabs the wrist of a girl or woman and pulls her along with him. Few people realize the pulling motion is creating power. Power that can be turned against the kidnapper.

Imagine if the target resisted a bit. The bad guy would pull harder, possibly with a lean forward to better drag the person along. A quick move forward into the bad guy could make him lose his balance. Using his force with a side kick downward onto his exposed front knee would be nice, too. Just saying.

A similar borrowing of power can happen in a shoving match, but you have to pivot and sidestep fast without losing your balance. If you do fall, make sure they are on the bottom. As you might guess, I suggest you fall with a downward strike since gravity is helping, but that’s just me.


I know this is tough to read and understand without the visuals I can provide in a class setting, but I think you get the basics. Add these concept to your visualizing drills. You know, the ones where you play “What if…” in your mind in preparation for self defense situations.

Feel free to visualize while sitting in traffic, bored in a line, or waiting for someone. Think to yourself, “What if that guy pulled a gun?” or “What if someone tried to carjack me at this stop light?” or “What if that car jumped the median and came at me in my lane while I’m in this traffic jam?”

Now you’ll never be bored while waiting again.

Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

Photo: Tambako the Jaguar


Self defense requires this key understanding

BW-FistWhen it comes to self defense, violent criminals or unsafe people fall along a continuum ranging from the difficult drunk who wants to grab your attention to the horribly violent and cruel person who will take your life…or worse.

The continuum is vast. I can’t teach even senior black belt students how to handle every situation represented on the continuum. What I can teach, however, is the key factor for when you find yourself on that continuum. That factor is relationship. A dynamic must exist — however short — in which the bad guys or gals insert themselves into your life in an unsafe or violent way. Violent types or jerks can’t do anything unless another person is the target.

The drunk or the murder can’t bother you if you aren’t there. Awareness, intuition, and recognizing patterns help you proactively avoid entering their selection process.

But even when you are in Code Red and the interaction or violence has begun, you can control and avoid worsening the situation by realizing this is a relationship. You must decide to manipulate or control it to your advantage and for your personal safety.

Dealing with a flirtatious drunk?

Alter any give-and-take nature of the conversation by ending it in a way that tells the person you have a job to do and it’s nothing personal. Learn to be assertive, parental, and as you turn away say, “Have a good day. I must get back to work now.” Be repetitive if necessary.

Dealing with an impaired or unstable person?

If one way of interacting fails try another. Alter your responses to minimize escalating the situation. You may have to agree with them on some minor point, be assertive, or become a parental voice challenging them to “give the other customers a quiet evening at the restaurant.”  And remember, your self defense is always more important than customer service. Never hesitate to get other staff or security to help.

Dealing with a bully?

Bullies can get off on fear, or they think they are doing you a favor by “toughening you up.” They want a relationship in which they control your emotions and reactions. You must find the inner strength or acting skills to thwart this dynamic. More on my blog post here.

Dealing with violent crime?

Some crimes occur in broad daylight, like a bank robbery, and those are often the ones where you should lay low.  In more personal attacks, the criminals will also want control, compliance, and quiet. When it’s just you trying to survive the moment, you may need to disrupt their need for control or work around it. Distraction may help get them off the attack track. Yelling “Fire, Fire, Fire!” may bring help. Feigning compliance for a brief moment so they think they are in control, which may allow their adrenaline to drop, could give you a moment to assess attack or escape plans.

Dealing with a dog attack?

Thinking in terms of relationship — and how to alter it — can even apply to a dog attack. Just a few hours before writing this article, a massively muscular dog came at me as I was taking a walk. Removing my baseball cap, I slapped my leg with it noisily and then pointed it menacingly at the dog. At the same time I used a command voice to tell it “NO! Go home!”

I set the relationship with the dog, not the other way around. If I had turned to run away hysterically, it would have taken me down with ease because the relationship would have been one of hunter and prey. And if not me, then the two small kids on a single bike who were right behind me.

Think Like A Black Belt: When faced with criminals and unsafe people, remember it’s a relationship. If they control the relationship, they get what they want. If you can avoid, alter, or reverse the relationship, then you mess up their plans and create opportunity to escape to safety.

As always, I can’t tell you or advise you what to do in your particular self defense situation. You are the one who will face the moment and the variables involved. I offer options, ideas, and educational material so you can make your own decisions when faced with violence or unsafe people. Each situation is unique and you must decide while in the situation.


Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck


Photo: Untitled blue


Time to stop and give honor where honor is due

Cheers-To-Barbara-SwaffordUsually I write about how to Think Like A Black Belt. Today I want to introduce you to someone who Lives Like A Black Belt in heart and deed. This is a “Cheers!” to one of my favorite, most honorable blog authors.

One of the reasons I keep “the blogging faith” is that I’ve met wonderful people online — bloggers and writers — who have the gift of encouragement. These are people willing to help newcomers or long-time blog authors with information, connections, or a simple “You go, Girl!”

Such a person is Barbara Swafford of Blogging Without a Blog. She launched her first post in March of 2007–long ago in blog time–so she knows blogging. She also knows people.

One of her many goals is to help other bloggers with information freely given. As a teacher and mentor, she offers up posts that can guide newcomers, make long-time blog writers ponder creatively, or gather from readers a list of options for trouble-shooting the how-to of blogging.

Barbara also enjoys networking people together. She writes on her site, “As a blog author, I love to meet and promote other bloggers. Additionally, I love to introduce bloggers to each other.”

And don’t mistake this as a gimmick. She is one of those rare types who walks the walk. As she noted in a 2008 interview,

“I don’t think of it as being generous, as much as just being helpful and considerate. With the blogging community being a group of kind and caring people (minus the bad eggs), we need a way to find each other. It’s just a small contribution on my part.”

In her earlier blog days, she showcased a number of other blogs. She picked some amazing  people to promote. Many of the people she highlighted have made a difference in my life in how I live, write, and approach blogging. Here are a few:

Life’s Little Inspirations — Wendi

Abundance Blog — Marelisa

MomGrind — Vered

The Jungle of Life — Lance

Urban Panther (now blogging at Silver and Grace) — Eliza

Writer Dad — Sean

Passing Thru — Betsy

Loving Pulse (now blogging at Shades of Crimson) — Davina

These bloggers represent the good guys and gals in the blog world. They have a track record of integrity, helping, and pushing their own envelope in creative ways.
Cervantes wrote, “Tell me what company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are.” Barbara’s community speaks volumes on who and what she is.

If you want to learn how to treat your blog audience, Barbara can help, too. Like Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan character on the TV show Star Trek, The Next Generation, Barbara has a unique knack of reflective listening few can match.

And just recently Barbara launched yet another way to help her online community, specifically the writers among us. In her recent post Help Me Help You, she writes of her new project, “‘Writers’ Blogk’ would be a gathering place where writers can share and promote themselves and their blogs via their writings AND receive feedback from other writers.”

So if you need a boost of blogging faith or just a great community of bloggers to hang with, visit Barbara’s blog today and say “Hi!”

And to Barbara — Thank you so much for being a shining light to so many. Here’s to you!


Lori Hoeck

— Many thanks to Patricia of Patriciaswisdom.com for helping make this day a special one for our friend and teacher, Barbara. —

Photo: Melalouise


Nonviolence, fighting back without fighting

On the morning of September 23, 1957, nine African-American teenagers stood up to an angry crowd protesting integration in front of Little Rock's Central High as they entered the school for the first time. This event, broadcast around the world, made Little Rock the site of the first important test of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision.

Statutes of nine African-American teenagers who stood up to an angry crowd protesting integration in front of Little Rock's Central High as they entered the school for the first time.

As a long-time martial artist and senior instructor, I’ve seen people stumble or argue over the idea of a Peaceful Warrior or “learning to fight so you don’t ever have to.”

There is a balance between inner strength that leads to peace and the inner warrior that honors self and society by being ever ready to prevail against evil with weapons or wiliness.

But there is a type of defense against injustice and the forces of darkness that requires a completely different approach than what most martial artist or combat trained individuals would advocate.

It’s called nonviolent protest. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated it as well as Gandhi and Lech Walesa. The idea is to achieve cultural, social or political goals via symbolic marches and protests, civil disobedience, non-cooperation, and other nonviolent means. (It’s not the same as defending yourself against a rapist, thief, or home intruder.)

The protesters believe suffering for a moment at the hands of the unjust (as being beaten by police or knocked down with water hoses) will eventually awaken and win the hearts and minds of the majority. They are willing to put themselves on the line to improve the lives of all, especially future generations.

The Five Principles of Nonviolence

from Martin Luther King, Jr.

1.  Non-violent resistance is not a method for cowards. It does resist. The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests, as is the person who uses violence. His method is passive or nonaggressive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, but his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade the opponent that he is mistaken. This method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually; it is nonaggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually.

2.  Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation but he realizes that noncooperation is not the ends itself; it is merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent.

3.  The attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces. It is a struggle between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

4.  Nonviolent resistance avoids not only external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit. At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

5. Nonviolence is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. It is the deep faith in the future that allows a nonviolent resister to accept suffering without retaliation. The nonviolent resister knows that in his struggle for justice, he has a cosmic companionship.

Here is the Pledge MLK’s followers were expected to take and fulfill when involved with non-violent protests:

1.   As you prepare to march meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus

2.   Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.

3.   Walk and talk in the manner of love; for God is love.

4.   Pray daily to be used by God that all men and women might be free.

5.   Sacrifice personal wishes that all might be free.

6.   Observe with friend and foes the ordinary rules of courtesy.

7.   Perform regular service for others and the world.

8.   Refrain from violence of fist, tongue and heart.

9.   Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

10. Follow the directions of the movement leaders and of the captains on demonstrations.

Courage takes many forms. It’s easy to start a fight. And quite frankly it’s easy to end one, too, if you are trained. But to face suffering willingly without throwing a punch back, without hurling insults, without doing anything but allowing the world to witness the injustice — even though you know you could extricate yourself from the situation — well, that’s a unique courage few have the stomach to take.

Would you take this approach and this pledge if you wanted to march or protest against something you considered unjust?


Lori Hoeck


Photo:  Steve Snodgrass


This time baby, I’ll be bulletproof

EllyJacksonBulletProofThe smash technopop hit Bulletproof sung by Elly Jackson of the musical duo La Roux speaks to that desire we all have to find place where fear and doubt are banished behind a skilled resolve not to be hurt by unsafe people.

(Face it, with a hairdo akin to Woody Woodpecker, Jackson has to have some thick skin and a fairly bulletproof ego. OK, it’s just a persona for the stage, but still…)

Don’t we all want that level of confidence and that comfort within our own skin? You know, that often elusive point where we own our lives so completely no one–even our lesser selves–can push our buttons, manipulate our emotions, or intimidate us. It’s what this site is all about, learning to Think Like A Black Belt.

How does it happen?


This can be intentional or not, but it must be either ongoing or more reality based than not.  As a martial artist and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), I trained for years. No syllabus or pop quizzes came with my time on the family farm, wilderness camping, and pushing the envelope of life experiences, but the lessons from them last a lifetime.

Whatever the training, it must push us beyond our comfort zone.

Trial by Fire

This is an experience so long, intense, or pivotal, our soul is bared in a supernova blast. Suddenly we peer deeply into who and what we are.  At this point we say, “This is not working! I’m changing things starting right now!” Those who hit bottom in their addiction and turn their lives around have a similar trial by fire of the inner kind.

True Moments

A good quote summing this one up is:

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

As the main care provider for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s and dementia, I’ve been pushed beyond normal levels of patience and creative ways to honor her. Opting out of a convenience mindset and doing the right thing often brings us to true grit moments that instill inner strength.

Notice all three of the above methods don’t fit the couch-potato personality. Nor can we find our way through them very far if we have too many issues, like addictions, weighing us down and keeping us in denial.

“Denial loves the darkness of half-truths and self-medicating narratives. Maturity requires the full light of courage, love, and perseverance.”


“Maturity consists of no longer being taken in by oneself.”  Proverb

So, to sum up — to Think Like a Black Belt is to think beyond the you of right now and value positive change enough to embrace the more bulletproof (mature) person you can become.

What do you think of the song or becoming bulletproof?


Lori Hoeck


If you liked this post, you’ll like:

To take a stand takes courage, ownership

Self defense and owning your survival

Independence Day Song for Targets of Narcissists


Photo: stusev


Self Defense, simple moves anyone can do

Robots vs Zombies, vs Ninjas vs Pirates

Self defense made easy? A list of the best, simple moves?

Well, as close to it as I can get on a blog post. This is from my Think Like A Black Belt newsletter #10, which you receive when downloading my free self defense ebook.

Some of these moves can knock someone out, but they also create a few moments of shock and pain for the attacker, otherwise known as distraction, so you can escape.

Unless you are trained, one move may not be sufficient, so be ready to run to safety or follow-up with another move.

NOTE: Some of these moves are graphically explained, so proceed at your own discretion.

With wrist bent back toward your own arm and fingers out of the way, the lower, fatty part of the hand makes a good striking surface. For a chin strike, an uppercutting motion is best. The motion is similar to a pushing someone away, but the hand moves in a rising motion from your chest or stomach level forward and up under their chin. Strikes need to drive through the chin, not stop and bounce back, but don’t lose your balance leaning forward.

Take a pen or pencil and tap the long part of it across the bony, top part of your nose. Start softly, but then tap until it hurts a bit. You will find it takes very little tapping pressure to cause some pain. Now imagine bringing down a closed hand, a rock, or a bottle of water on someone’s nose, and you have some idea of how effective this can be.

If you’ve ever hit your own shin, you know this pain. This strike can be made with a quick, powerful kick (no long wind-up like on TV) or swinging a very hard object downward onto the shin (like a bat).

When someone grabs your wrist or arm, find ways to quickly and forcefully slam an attacker’s hand into something to cause their grip to loosen or release. This is especially painful for them if you hit their fingers or top part of their hand against a metal door knob, the edge of something, or the corner of a wall.

The elbow can strike in many directions: forward or backward into the ribs or upwards into the solar plexus or chin. One strike is very similar to the motion you make to reach back across yourself in the car to grab your seat belt. The trick is to strike while putting some weight behind it. Just throwing an elbow with arm muscle power alone won’t be too effective. Think more like a batter getting reading to hit a baseball — use the hips and body weight behind the elbow to give it power.

OK, so a super-macho person may laugh at the idea of a pinch, but it’s about location, location, location. Imagine where you would never want to be pinched and you know where to pinch an attacker. Any place the skin is thin, like the back of hands, are most painful. You can try it for yourself it you want.

We’ve all dropped something on our toes or stubbed them. The pain can drop you to your knees. To do this, your knee comes up (which raises your foot) and then strike down onto their foot with your heel. Best to have some weight behind it. Also, it takes very few pounds of pressure to drive a high heel through another foot (or other body parts).

Think about how you sneeze. The head tilts back as you breathe in before the sneeze and then comes forward fast and hard during the sneeze. That’s pretty much how you do a head butt, except with deliberate power and targeting.

Hit with the area of the forehead close to the normal hairline. A good target is coming down on the bridge of the nose, but the cheek bones, hinge area of the jaw, eye socket, and temple are vulnerable to the head butt’s power.

Timing a hip check on an attacker as they pass by something like a coffee table, cliff edge, or a sharp, pointy object can cause them to fall or worse. Think hockey player, but don’t give the move away early.

It’s nasty sounding, but a blinded attacker is a lot easier to free yourself from and escape. No, don’t try to do a Three Stooges eye poke — unless that’s all you can remember to do and then do it with power and repetition. The thumb goes in the eye at the outer edge of one eye socket while the middle finger goes in the other eye, also at the outer edge of the eye socket. Push in, bring thumb and finger toward one another (closer to the nose), and pull.

When you make a fist, the pinky or little finger side of the fist is called the hammer fist. Imagine bringing a hammer fist down on a nose! It can also be used to strike powerfully down on the front side of the shoulder to break the clavicle. If grabbed from behind, you can hammer fist backward into the groin.

Eardrums are vulnerable because they can’t take sudden pressure change. You can create that sudden change by cupping your hands and bringing them forcefully together like a powerful clap, but instead of clapping hands together, you clap (strike) the attackers ears at the same time.

Yes, this is painful and it takes hardly any pressure to perform. The trick is to grab the finger before they pull away and to bend the finger in the direction it will break. Just grabbing a finger and flailing won’t help. You must grab and snap it painfully back with full power.


It’s best to visualize and practice these before you need them. If you can learn to flow powerfully from one move to another, you will add immensely to your self defense options.

Disclaimer: Consult a doctor before engaging in any physical activity and do not practice this with a partner unless under the supervision of a trained instructor. Use them only in self defense situations in which you feel your life or the life of another is in imminent danger.

When using self defense moves:

  • Feet must be apart or you will lose balance as you create power.
  • Use “whole body” motions instead of just the arm or leg muscles.
  • Stepping with a strike can add power, but watch your balance.
  • Strikes must be delivered with a powerful & resolved mindset.
  • Since one strike may not work, move quickly to repeat the strike or move to another.
  • Keep striking until you can free yourself and get to safety.
  • Use deep, powerful yells to add power, attract attention, & psyche yourself up.
  • If you are grabbed by the wrist or both wrists — practice deliberate calm — you still have many other weapons at your disposal.

Thank y0u for stopping by to learn about self defense,

Lori Hoeck

Photo: kennymatic


Independence Day song for targets of narcissists

FreeFromNarcissistI love this line in the song by Sara Bareilles King Of Anything: “Who cares if you disagree? You are not me”

I heard this today and had to make it an Independence Day song for those dealing with (or done with) their narcissist, crazy maker, unsafe person, or emotional manipulator. Here’s the link to the video.


{Excerpts from the lyrics. NOT THE FULL SONG.}

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps
You got the talking down, just not the listening


I don’t have to tell you, but you can decide “it is your turn to decide.”

Photo: Kalyano2