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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Talisman Thinking

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding.)

Just finished reading a small section in the book by Marc MacYoung on, “Talisman Thinking.” It goes something like this, “The belief that the item is what does the work. It’s having the item (or form) but lacking what makes it work. These are the people who have a weapon for self-protection and who believe that simply waving it around will make the other person back off.” - Marc MacYoung, “In the Name of Self-Defense.” Chapter 14, page 341, end first paragraph.

Now, I am going to spin off into “Never-never land” here because what follows actually has noting to do with what Mr. MacYoung is presenting in his book on talisman thinking. I am going off into a view about karate, kumite, competitions, self-defense and most of all the coveted “black belt.” Are these things a manifestation of talisman thinking? If so, is it the fault of the practitioner or that of the teacher? Or, does it just depend?

Granted there are many aspects of karate training that are beneficial toward self-defense, the ability to handle violence in a legal way. I will say, my view, that the principles taught in karate and other martial arts are awesome toward teaching such physiokinetic principles, i.e., structure, alignment, and centeredness, etc. but what about actually application in self-defense?

Is it possible through all the hoopla, advertisement and claims of “The most deadly self-defense course known to man,” that the essence of the meaning of black belt and those other training forms is lost in actual application toward self-defense? 

When I began seriously studying karate I was led to believe that it would carry the weight for my ability to fight. I didn’t even think of or equate my karate training as a self-defense system even tho parts were taught under the heading of self-defense. I attribute a lot of this thinking to my active duty status as a Marine at the time along with the combat and civil fighting experience of my instructor, also a Marine with combat experience, etc.

As I came to understand both my karate system and self-defense I can see now that my karate was missing a lot of the necessary needs for a self-defense system. Those seven requirements for a self-defense system are available for learning in my references/sources listed below. 

We kumite’d a lot in my early days. We trained every evening for a couple of years, five nights a week, and we spent at least thirty percent of that time, “Fighting,” but as you might understand now, with certain rules for safety and our protection. Granted, as Marines we tended to get aggressive and applied a lot more force than many today will except for those systems that promote such events as UFC or MMA type competitions. Here again, many of the requirements for self-defense were just missing. All of this can be said and more about competitions, martial arts self-defense training and the coveted black belt.

Lets look at the black belt. When I was first promoted to sho-dan I was led to believe that it signified my ability to fight first and perform the black belt requirements of the system. Now, that mind set created what could be considered talisman thinking because we assumed that what we thought black belt meant actually meant it was a complete fighting ability let alone self-defense.

I can’t tell you how often I heard someone say, “I have a black belt,” while doing the monkey dance trying to get someone else to back down. Now, in those early days it actually worked, most of the time. It was not often that someone tested the statement. Today, tho, with the enlightenment toward what black belts mean or meant along with the loss of requirements toward a black belt that talisman type thinking gets challenged more and more making it less than or not even in contention as a possible talisman. Yet, some still try it. 

Now, we have black belts in several styles and system along with thinking one holds a title or has won a lot of trophies coming across as talismans of ability and proficiency in fighting and self-defense. Take the current UFC and MMA belief system. How many of those practitioners speak up quickly as to their prowess in fighting conveying the thought and feelings that it is connected with self-defense as well. Isn’t this a bit of talisman thinking, waving around your ability in that field of competition to get your adversary to “back down” before it goes violent? 

Granted, I may be stretching the truth a bit but consider this in those ads promoting a system as a self-defense system, are they really waving around a flag as if that were a talisman toward safety and confidence toward handling conflict and violence named as self-defense? Isn’t that promoting a false sense of safety, security and ability to handle violent situations? Isn’t that another talisman one might wave around to discourage an attacker and isn’t that also a danger if the attacker turns out to be a predator process/resource adversary? 

Wouldn’t this be another good reason to consider what your goals are if your martial arts are for self-defense? Isn’t this about the type of thinking that is NOT talisman oriented and more reality based? In addition, as “Reality Based Training” becomes more prominent are we not going to need to make sure that we are not just waving around another version of the talisman oriented thinking process? 

Talisman thinking,.what do you think? Do you want to bet your life, your health or your limbs on a possible bluff? What if you don’t realize it is a bluff, waving around a talisman and hoping it will deter violence, and jump in the deep end of the violence pool? 

Note: I do believe due to the efforts of some professionals that the talisman like thinking in martial arts is on the move toward true reality based training and practice, it just ain’t the majority yet. 

Primary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Secondary Bibliography of Self-Defense:
Ayoob, Massad. “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense”Gun Digest Books. Krouse Publications. Wisconsin. 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. "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.
MacYoung, Marc. “Writing Violence #1: Getting Shot.” NNSD. Amazon Digital. 2014.
MacYoung, Marc. “Writing Violence #2: Getting Stabbed.”  NNSD. Amazon Digital. 2015.
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
Strong, Sanford. “Strong on Defense_ Survival Rules to Protect you and your Family from Crime.” Pocket Books. New York. 1996.
and more … see blog bibliography.
Jahn, C. R. “FTW Self Defense.” iUniverse. Amazon Digital Services. 2012
Jahn, C. R. “Hardcore Self Defense.” iUniverse. Amazon Digital Services. 2002.

My Blog Bibliography
Cornered Cat (Scratching Post):
Kodokan Boston:
Mario McKenna (Kowakan):
Wim Demeere’s Blog:

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