Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

Please take a look at my bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn

Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung


The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated. - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)

“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

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Zanshin in Self-Defense

Caveat: this post is my interpretation of readings from Meditations on Violence therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. It is highly recommended one read his book for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the book.  

Zanshin is explained in many ways by many systems and by many martial practitioners. It is actually a combination of “both awareness and experience.” In order to expand this understanding you have to expand on “awareness” and “experience.” There are a variety of awarenesses one must understand, achieve and experience to get a state of zanshin. 

Example: When confronted by the monkey dance one who acts bored and thoughtful can come across as a very powerful individual. It is a matter of not questioning your own status thereby making it harder for someone to challenge you regarding your status. In the monkey dance status and respect affects your status within the tribe, tribes are about survival. This type of posturing provides the adversary with indicators that you have power, confidence and your status to be unquestionable and impeachable. Your power is demonstrated by the calm you project and its aura of confidence. 

This attitude and projection of zanshin comes across as a clear signal you are not going to fall into the monkey dance trap. This aura is zanshin, this aura of awareness and experience that creates a mind of zanshin, an aura cultivated by a combination of awareness and insight into experience. 

As important as experience is toward zanshin, experience without the mindfulness is not zanshin. Mindfulness toward a self-analysis and self-appraisal as the experience provides a balanced whole that is zanshin. This is one aspect of self-awareness and awareness that builds that aura of zanshin. It is this type of awareness that provides you the tools to look inward and gain insight from and into experience.

To develop this zanshin you have to remain open to experience along with all its effects. In order to gain zanshin, “YOU have to have experienced experience. It has to be allowed to become a part of you meaning you cannot hide your head in the sand and you cannot “ignore your experiences” no matter how ugly and distasteful it may feel. You have to examine it, much like professionals create and study their after action reports, and that means you have to seek to understand it completely and as thoroughly as possible. It is the lessons of experience that creates the awareness that is zanshin. This type of awareness and experience contributes greatly toward other aspects of awareness in self-defense that completes the circle that becomes zanshin.

Look to zanshin as the development of “cool and calm” that projects confidence that comes across with the aura of competence. That competence that is zanshin projecting the cool and calm that speaks to adversary’s and fundamental obstructs their ability and will to act against you. 

I quote, “A self-defense expert who has read DeBecker and Christensen and MacYoung and Strong and Blauer will be able to get good information to their students - in a very real sense, they will know the words, but not the music.” - Rory Miller, Meditations on Violence

The question here is, “How many of the self-defense instructors have adequate experience along with experiences awareness that allows them to properly teach self-defense rather than merely passing along the academic knowledge?” Even the type and amount of experience will lend a level of credence with more experience building on the instructors zanshin over mere knowledge, i.e., adding music to the lyrics. 

Note: My personal experiences are not adequate to provide a completed song of self-defense. I have the lyrics with a few notes of music but the entire song is not adequate to convey the entire track. It is a bit like having good sight but the peripheral vision is blurred and veiled. 

This post is meant to convey another aspect of the principles of martial systems, i.e. sub-principle of zanshin under the principle of philosophy (mind, mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-yang, oneness, ZANSHIN and being, non-action, character, the empty cup).


Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Bibliography (The above post are my thoughts and mine alone, the below are simply sources that influence my thoughts on this subject):
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000

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