Episode 3: Simple Ninja Safety Tip

In my previous episode, Super Special Ninja Secret, I shared the nifty little trick of how to avoid an attack. However, you can’t get out of the way if you can’t see it coming. Which is how I ended up getting a glass of wine thrown in my face. It was a waste of good wine, but also a powerful reminder of what can happen when we let our guard down.

I am not talking about being paranoid. I am talking about paying attention to yourself, to your environment, and to other people around you. Looking back, there were very subtle signs that the situation was escalating. But, I simply thought I was having an animated conversation with someone I knew well and cared deeply about. I was wrong.

The truth is that we can’t always see when a hit is coming. But, we can certainly increase our chances of avoiding an attack by training our attention and awareness. Because a distracted person is an easy target, and a perpetrators dream come true. And it all starts with putting down your cell phone.

Your phone should NEVER be in your hand when you are in a public place. It belongs in your purse, pocket, or briefcase. Trust me. Not only is your cell phone the epitome of distraction, you will never know what hit you until it’s over. And you do not want that to happen. Putting your cell phone away is the first part of this simple ninja safety tip. The rest is in this episode.

Be aware, or beware!

Episode 2: Super Special Ninja Secret

One of the first things I learned as a brand new martial arts student was how to get out of the way of an attack. It’s actually a super sneaky and nifty little ninja secret that can help you in a multiple of different situations.

It’s the secret to the infamous “ninja disappearing act.” I’ll just bet you’re rolling your eyes right now, thinking that it’s just not possible for someone to disappear. Think again. It’s a surprisingly simple, easy, and effective technique which can keep you safe in a multitude of different situations.

As I said, it was one of the first things I learned as a brand new martial arts student, and I was really, really good at it. Because anytime one of the guys tried to attack me, I would run off of the mat, screaming like a banshee with my gi top over my head. Not exactly the Ninja stealth my Sensei was trying to teach me, but it worked.

However, once I stopped running, I learned a powerful lesson and a valuable skill that changed my life forever (in a good way), and it can change yours as well.

It might even keep you from getting wine thrown in your face. After all, life is full of hits, and it comes in a variety of different forms. Attacks can be physical, emotional, verbal, and even spiritual. If you simple get out of the way, you can’t get hurt. Or get wine in your face. I guarantee that this is a secret you’ll be happy to have under your belt.

However, if you can’t see it coming, you can’t get out of the way. But, I will save that little secret for the next episode. Stay tuned!

Blinded By The Light

“Blinded by the light” made for a great song title by the Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in the early 1970s.  But, if you’ve ever had a bright light in your eyes, you know that it does literally blind you, at least temporarily. Those rods and cones that live in your retina start going absolutely bonkers trying to readjust to the sudden burst of bright light, leaving you confused and disoriented.

Which is the reason why you should always have a strong, high powered flashlight with you at all times, day and night. And, you should be holding it in your dominate hand.

I know, you probably don’t have the personal real estate available for something as frivolous as a flashlight. After all, that is where your cell phone lives, even when you’re walking around in public. But, I beg of you, as I have many times before, put your cell phone in your purse! Put it there, and leave it there.

If you are ever approached by a stranger and need a quick get-away, a high quality flashlight with a powerful beam of light is the perfect defensive weapon of choice. Even in the daylight, all you have to do is shine the light in their face, temporarily blinding them and giving you the opportunity to get away and to a safe place.

And, you have the additional advantage to get a clear view of the person’s face so you can give a detailed description to the police when you file a complaint. Which you will do, of course. Because we do need to shine the light on the bad guys so we know who they are and can put them away. Yay!

Choose a high quality flashlight with a high powered beam and settings for a strobe light and an SOS. Make sure it has a nice weight to it and fits well in your hand. It will probably feel better than your cell phone. And, it will be far more useful, especially if you ever need to blind someone with the light.

The Debut Of The FemiNinja

Well, the results are in. After spending most of my summer deeply immersed in a podcasting contest, I finally got the news. I am thrilled and delighted to be one of four winners, and my new show, The FemiNinja has officially launched last week.  Eee-ha! I think that’s pretty good, considering that the reason I entered the contest was simply to have the opportunity to (maybe) meet the woman who was running the contest (someday).

Well, not only did I get my wish, I got a whole lot more than I had bargained for at the same time. As one of the podcasters, I am responsible for providing 2 episodes a week full of bad-ass content on a variety of different topics. The FemiNinja is about personal empowerment, strength, grace, confidence, health, fitness, standing your ground, finding your voice, living large and loving life. Because living well and looking good is the way of The FemiNinaj!.

I wanted to say that living well and looking good is the best revenge, but not everyone got the message. However, a few people did, and I’m thinking those are the ones with their our amazing stories and bad-ass content to share. I’m hoping to get some of them on my show for interviews.

My first official show was the story about how I broke up with my BFF of 30 years. Yeah. It was really awkward, but it just had to be done for my own health and well-being.

Like I said, I certainly got a whole lot more than I bargained for! So far I have talked to her on the phone several times, met her in person, been to her house, and had lunch with her and the rest of the team of The Ladies Chit Chat Club.

Perhaps I need to set my sights a little higher in the future.

Teaching Bullies Better Manners

I detest bullies. In my humble opinion they are sniveling little cowards with no manners or sense of human decency. They pick on those they perceive as weak, vulnerable, or helpless. If only we could teach bullies better manners, I do believe that the world would be a better place. And I believe we can.

I recently taught a self-defense class for women and girls. There were several grown women as well as two petite and quiet teen-aged girls attending the class. Well, at least one of the girls were quiet. The other one was a lot more verbose and outgoing. They were sisters, and they were adorable. They were in the class accompanied by their grandmother, who thought it would be a beneficial experience for all of them. She was right about that!

Although it usually takes awhile for ladies to get comfortable in a self-defense class, this group quickly got into the spirit of the class, and started to have some fun with it. However, I noticed that the quiet teenager hung back and silently watched the rest of us as we played with a few techniques and walked through several different scenarios. I thought she was just shy, so I decided to engage with her and make her feel more comfortable.

I caught her eye and made an effort to draw her into the class. I usually don’t focus on bullies or anti-bullying in women’s self defense classes, since we focus more on random attacks and “what-if” situations. But, for some reason, I said to her, “Let’s pretend that someone is picking on you at school…” Before I could finish, she shot a look at her grandmother. After a few moments of silence, her grandmother said, “That’s exactly what’s happening.”

I thought blood was going to shoot out of my eyes. Just the thought that a bully (or bullies) were picking on this adorable young girl enraged me. I wished I could go to school with her the next day, stand in front of her, and make them go through me before they could get to her. Instead, I continued teaching from a slightly different perspective, making sure that I kept this girl front and center.

Pretty soon, something remarkable happened. She began standing taller (all five feet of her), and started looking us all in the eye. She paid closer attention to what we were doing and got a lot more talkative, although not nearly as loquacious as her sister. Eventually I slid up beside her and whispered, “You’re getting it now, aren’t you?”

I wish you could have seen the look she gave me. She had a gleam in her eye and a knowing smile on her beautiful face. As a matter of fact, she actually glowed with a wisdom well beyond her years. She nodded her head and replied, “Oh, yeah. I get it.” I wanted to weep with joy. 

For the next several days I could not get this girl and the bullies out of my head. I wondered if the lessons she learned that evening had any impact on her and her situation at school. Two weeks later I finally got my answer.

Her grandmother sent me a beautiful email thanking me for teaching the class. She also wanted me to know her grand-daughter told her that one single class changed her life forever. She was no longer having problems with bullies and was enjoying going to school again. Or at least, as much as any teenager enjoys school.

I cried when I read the email. As a matter of fact, to this day I cannot tell the story without crying. It’s a little embarrassing, because as a rule I do not cry in public, although I seem to be getting pretty good at it lately. Especially when I repeat the story of the petite and precious teenager who was being picked on in school, but found her strength and confidence in one two-hour long self-defense class.

The one thing I would love to know, but probably never will, was how the whole thing went down. I would have giving anything to see how she stood her ground. I really would have loved to see how her tormenter responded. Especially since I know it was done in a non-violent manner. 

Like I said, bullies are cowards. All you have to do is look them in the eye, stand your ground, and walk tall. Even if you are only five feet tall, you look like a giant. And you get to teach them better manners, which not only changes your life, but changes theirs as well. It’s a beautiful thing, don’t you agree?

The Debut of The Delicate Dojo….

I began my martial arts training ten years ago under the instruction of Sensei Marc Hanson of Kusa Dojo. My goal was to take a few classes, learn a few techniques, and then move on with my life. After all, I’m kind of prissy, and I couldn’t see myself hanging out in a Dojo with a bunch of sweaty men for very long. Besides, I’m a dancer, and I certainly didn’t want anything to interfere with my ballet classes. And, I was terrified of getting hurt.

I met my Sensei three years before I started my journey into the world of martial arts. He was my acupuncturist, and for three years he tried to get me into his classes and onto the mat. For three years I refused. I finally capitulated, thinking I would take a few classes, and he would see how much I hated it. Then I could say, “I told you so,” I could quit, and he would stop nagging me.

But, something funny happened. I fell in love with training, and I fell in love with the art. However, I understand how hard it is for a woman to walk into a testosterone infested Dojo. Even though I already knew my teacher and some of his students, it was terrifying. I don’t know why I kept going to class. It may have been my love of the art, my incomparable stubbornness, or the fact that I didn’t know any better. Obviously, I was getting something out of it.

It was early in my training that I had the inspiration for The Delicate Dojo. In my imagination, this would be a place where women could learn basic self defense skills, instructed by a woman, in a fun, safe and comfortable environment. Of course, in my fantasy world, these classes would be taught by someone who had a lot of spirit, who loved teaching, and who absolutely loved helping women tap into their Warrior spirit. I had no idea that woman would be me.

The time has come. Who knew that my fantasy would become a reality, and I would be the teacher. It’s funny how things work out, once you stop resisting the inevitable and let nature take it’s course. Welcome to The Delicate Dojo, and discover that it is possible to look like a woman, act like a lady, move like a Ninja, and think like a Warrior. See you on the mat!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP