I was recently contacted by a U of O student, who is working on a project focusing on the topic of “female empowerment”, and would like to discuss my views/experiences on the topic. I am delighted to contribute, as the subject is both a passion and frustration of mine.


My husband and I teach hand-to-hand combat, for self defense purposes, with classes populated almost equally by both men & women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. I also work with the Eugene  and Springfield Police Departments, and the Lane County sheriff’s Office, to promote ALICE Training in Lane County Schools & Businesses, as a means of giving participants viable options for dealing with Active Shooters/Violent Intruders.


As a self defense instructor, I rarely ever come across anyone who questions the validity of what we do. By that, I mean that everyone seems to agree that it is vitally important for every individual to take personal responsibility for their own well-being. If only because violence happens FAST…and, it takes time for help to arrive.  Most people are past the self-delusion of thinking that it won’t ever happen to them. Everyone wants to be able to handle themselves effectively in a crisis situation, and nobody wants to be a victim.  But, ultimately, it all comes down to everyday priorities.

You must have your own compelling “why” for making the time to learn how to defend yourself…

or it just won’t happen.


The system we’ve chosen is called F.I.G.H.T. (Fierce Israeli Guerilla Hand to Hand Tactics), otherwise known as HaganaH (“defense” in Hebrew). The founder of our system, Mike Lee Kanarek, has said that one of the most challenging things to teach women in North America is how to be “aggressive“, when needed. Based on experience, I would have to agree.

Women in Israel already have their “WHY?” and train no differently than the men. In our culture, women are traditionally considered to be in need of protection, rather than being capable of defending themselves. Thankfully, that attitude is changing, out of necessity…and, there are many groups and organizations that support women’s concerns & rights. While we absolutely support those looking at the “big picture”, our vision is a little more specific.

We want to change that perspective,

one woman at a time.

And, we’d like to start with YOU.


Finding your “why?” doesn’t need to be dramatic or profound. While some of our clients have had violence in their history that compels them to learn skills to prevent it from ever occurring again…many don’t. Many come in, simply because they are independent, self-reliant women who pay attention to the news and just don’t ever want to be unprepared or a anybody’s victim.

And yet, I don’t know how many times we’ve worked with women who say they “Oh, I can’t/don‘t want to do that“, “I don’t want to hurt someone”, or who shrink from the idea of actually fighting back, even if attacked. They underestimate their abilities and talk themselves out of it, before even allowing themselves to give the idea an honest effort. What’s worse, is that some of these women even have husbands, boyfriends, friends and family members who actually discourage their tentative efforts, for reasons I cannot fathom – pride or ego? Who knows?

What’s interesting, is that, in most cases, if we say to them “you are the only thing standing between a violent attacker and your child or loved one”, everything changes. There’s an instantaneous sense of determination & resolve – that protective maternal instinct kicks in and they proceed with focus. Because, they suddenly have a “why?” far more compelling than their negative internal voices or that of those discouraging them.


If that’s your “why?”, fantastic. As a mother, I totally get it and would fight ruthlessly and aggressively for a child and/or loved one. I have seen, firsthand, that same determination in the faces of the educational staff & teachers I’ve helped train in the ALICE System with the EPD/SPD. It fills me with pride that so many of our educators place such value on the well being of those in their care.


WE just want you to find a “why?” for yourself.

It could be as simple as believing that no one has a right to commit violence against you, and that if someone ever tries, they will sorely regret having done so. It could be a desire to build your self-confidence. Maybe this is your year to re-create yourself into your own version of a better, stronger YOU. Your “why?” is as individual as you are. Whatever your motivation may be, know this… 

that YOU have the capability of learning how to defend yourself effectively…without transforming yourself into some kind of mean, paranoid, Neanderthal, chest-beater who froths at the mouth and wears camo & combat boots every day.

You still get to be who you are…

just stronger , more capable and better prepared.


At Train Like You Mean It!, we always offer the first week FREE. We do that for a reason. We want those interested in our classes to see exactly what they’re getting into… in terms of training, scheduling, and perspective. We do not want you to waste your time (or ours) with something you won’t work at learning. While that may seem a little harsh, it is tempered by the fact that we take pride in knowing that anyone stepping foot on our mats, even just once, will be given training that will send them out the door better equipped than when they came in.

That’s very important to us.

We are not a traditional martial arts gym. We do not teach MMA fighting. We do not insist on long term contracts. And, we don’t consider others teaching self defense training to be our “competitors“. They are, or should be, our allies…right? Our passion and mission is to give you the skills/tools you need to handle yourself appropriately, should you ever find yourself in harm’s way.

It’s up to YOU to find the “why?”

And, when you do…you know where to find us!

We can’t wait to work with you!