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Think like a Black Belt? Yes you can!

Round-house kick in kataIf  black belt level self defense skills came in a pill, everyone would want one. Heck, it sure would have saved me a lot of blood, sweat, and tears coming up through the ranks from white belt starting in 1981 to senior martial arts instructor. There are a lot of push-ups I could have avoided as well. In the strict and tough karate studios where I trained and taught, roughly 3 out of 100 people made it to black belt. Far fewer continued training to my level of third degree or above.

Fortunately, many self defense skills don’t require hundred of hours learning the art of combat or the artistry of powerful movements. Physical self defense can be dialed down to basics moves most people can learn (practice is on you though!). Other parts of self defense require a tougher-minded outlook combined with street-smart awareness. It’s thinking ahead, having a wary eye, and presenting yourself to the world in a way that makes criminals and predators naturally pass you by as undesirable.

You won’t learn how to move and groove like a black belt here, and I don’t have a magic pill either, but I’m excited to help you discover many of the insights I’ve picked up along the way to senior martial arts instructor — insights that will allow you to Think Like a Black Belt and keep you and your children safer, such as:

1) Physical Self Defense
Martial artists are, well, artists. We learn to move our bodies and mind with precision, force, and tenacious inner will. Our moves, stances, and even our breathing all channel into the art of combat. It is a beautiful and awesome thing when done well. Basic self defense, on the other hand, can be boiled down into simpler moves almost anyone can do.

  • Not everyone can hold their wrist and knuckles just right to land a powerful punch. Most people can however heel palm strike a chin, stomp a foot, bash a nose, break a collar bone, or bring a knee to the face of a doubled-over attacker.
  • Not everyone can break free of an attacker’s grab while putting the attacker in a joint lock or submission hold and taking them to the ground. Most people can however learn to break free from chokes, bear hugs, hair pulls, wrist grabs, and head locks.
  • Not everyone can choose from an arsenal of 40 blocks to parry a strike. Most people can however learn the basics of avoiding and blocking a punch or kick.

As you read my ongoing articles, you won’t learn artistic kicks and complicated grappling techniques (join a karate or Mixed Martial Arts school to do that!), but you will discover the down and dirty moves of street-smart self defense.

2) Mental Self Defense
Black belts walk and talk with long hours of class time experience adding subtle power to their body language, confidence to their step, and fire to their awareness. Dozens of tips can help you develop this more powerful self and thus become slippery Teflon to an attacker’s targeting phase.  The tips can help you fashion a new mindset, a survivor’s instinct, and savvy street smarts.

3) Emotional Self Defense
Not all criminals and predators dress like thugs, twirl their mustaches with an evil laugh, or fly their pirate flag at full mast. A few spend their whole lives working to control, manipulate, and suck the life out of others. They come with different names, but bottom line is they sap you of energy, make your life miserable, drive you crazy with personal issues, act subtly or overtly superior, and make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them:

  • Scott M. Peck calls them People of the Lie.
  • Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, in their book Safe People, refer to them as “unsafe people.”
  • Your friends may call them exasperating and frustrating.
  • You may know them as emotional predators or vampires.
  • I call them Dark Hearts.

My subtitle to this section is called Defense Against the Dark Hearts — a take off on the name of a class in which juvenile fiction and movie character Harry Potter learns to deal with black magic attacks.

My goal in writing on these subjects is to better arm people against all sorts of predators and criminals. Also parents will be able to teach much of this information to their children, making them safer, too. The subject is huge and fascinating, so I will be adding more articles or blog posts to this site every week. Please feel free to subscribe — it’s free!

Please comment below!
Is there a subject you’d like me to cover that I haven’t mentioned?
Has a recent event or Amber Alert made you think more about self defense and personal safety?

Thank you for visiting!
Lori Hoeck

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cindy platt May 26, 2009, 11:00 pm

    Goodness. I read this post after I had commented on the relationship post. I was thinking like a Black Belt without knowing it. Right on! I feel our children are the most vulnerable targets. We live 9 blocks from the ocean (sweet!), but inner city in a neighborhood going through bouts of regentrification. I am fiercely protective of our children and constantly talking to them about street smarts. We have decided on a code word if someone gives them an emotional lure like: “Your parents told me you need to come with me they have been in a car accident etc.” and the stranger danger discussions. It’s sad that we can’t just be friendly every day people, but when we walk to the library and I see and feel the ugliness of people saying hello to my children, or men undressing us with their eyes I tell the children to keep walking and don’t make eye contact. Sean and I have talked about taking martial arts as a family, but until then I feel there can never be enough talk about how to keep our children street smart and help them have the tools to be safe and maintain the innocence and beauty they hold inside. A very difficult line to walk. My innocence was violated before the age of 5 and continued for a long time. Prevention is the best intervention, and I feel it is a topic that we could all use more empowerment on. Help us out sensei.

  • Lori Hoeck May 27, 2009, 7:46 am

    Hi Cindy,
    You have a black belt mindset in many ways because life sometimes forces that level of survival mode on us. I’m so glad you are passing the mindset on to your children in daily doses they can handle. I wish you lived closer and I could take you on as students, but since we are a few states apart, all I can do is write the best I can to give you, Sean, and the kids; my nieces and nephews; and every other reader insight into the many levels of self defense. And I’m happy to help out!

  • floreta June 1, 2009, 12:52 pm

    great blog! i just started martial arts a couple years ago but i’m currently a white belt [first stripe] in an indonesian style. i think a lot of it is definitely mindset and mental toughness!

  • Lori Hoeck June 1, 2009, 6:50 pm

    Hi Floreta,
    Thank you for taking time to visit and comment. Good for you for taking a martial art! Training is like most things, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.