No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We're put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Missing Link in Children Self-Defense Programs

The older I get, the more I have an appreciation for the good I have in my life. I have three beautiful daughters and at the time of this writing they are between the ages of 1 -4.5 years old. As a father, as a husband, as a Senshido International Team Member and Instructor, and as a human – I offer this piece for your consideration.

The subject of “children’s self-defense programs” has been growing more and more popular as time passes by. It is not uncommon to read ads, books, articles, etc. that promise to make your children “bully-proof” and “kidnapper-proof”. Often, children’s self-defense programs will include “Stranger Danger and Awareness” strategies and tactics, in addition to basic physical self-defense skills against “bullies.” (I have grown a disdain for the word “bully” due to reading Darren Lauer’s article entitled “Blind Faith”:

This article (and others like it) in conjunction with Phil and Athena Thompson’s excellent book “Empower Your Kids To Be Safe…For Life” awoke me the fact that many “programs” out there are simply teaching what they were taught, not seeking to improve and evolve. For example, Phil goes into great detail on why the “Stranger Danger” format no longer works.

Many Youth-Oriented Self-Defense Programs include the following components: Anti-Bullying, Stranger Danger, Kidnappings, Common Predatory Lures, Cyber-bullying, Cyber-safety, Home Alone, How to Dial 911 (or your respective emergency contact number), Memorizing Important Information such as Name, Address, Telephone Number, Parent’s Name, Telephone Safety, Drug Awareness and Prevention, etc. The above play a vital component in the holistic nature of protecting our children and every one of these should be incorporated into your child safety training. However, there is one major component missing…and that is the guardian(s) relationship with the child.

Within the world of the Senshido International Movement, we have embodied and embraced the phrase “Self-Defense Begins with the Self” – it was one reason Richard Dimitri titled his primary introductory book to Senshido “In Total Defense of the Self”. However, your child is not truly aware of their “self” (many adults fall into this statement as well) – this is why they need parental guidance and structure. I am not referring taking an active part in their self-defense training (although it is highly recommended), nor am I referring to driving them to the local dojo every Tuesday and Thursday evening after school. I am referring to how you treat your kids, behind closed doors – how you parent – how you discipline – how you speak to them – how you react when you’re angry with them – how you react in front of them when you become depressed, angry, sad, pissed off, etc.

Like many people, I grew up with a rough family structure. I experienced (what many today would call) physical, emotional and psychological abuse on a consistent basis. I learned to associate pain and anger; I found that sleeping “helped” my depression, because I didn’t have deal with reality; I struggled and still struggle with self-worth, depression, low self-esteem, etc. For much of my life I felt like walking on egg shells, I became a doormat for many people and found it extremely hard to justify standing up for myself in any capacity whatsoever. I struggled with my weight constantly – always being overweight and started smoking when I was about 10 or so and became a full-time smoker when I turned 15. When I was approximately 11 years old, I wanted to commit suicide. I was so broken from being called a “damn moron”, “stupid”, “fucking idiot”, etc. for so long that I thought I couldn’t take it anymore…and that if this is how my family felt about me, it wouldn’t get much better from outsides who didn’t know me. I remember walking on a highway bridge and climbing over the side of the rail. I held on by my finger tips and looked at what would soon become my fate…a 45 foot drop onto rocky terrain. A nanosecond before I was going to let go of the bridge, I realized that it would be my family who would have to pay for the funeral services and burial box. Being extremely poor, I knew they could not afford it…and that was my saving grace – realizing that my family could not afford my funeral expenses. I climbed back over the rail and walked home in silence.

I’m 30 years old now and as mentioned earlier, I have three beautiful daughters. I never knew the impact of my upbringing had on me and my parenting methods until I had my princesses. When they don’t listen to me, I immediately yell at them – simply because that is what I was use to (we use to have hours of yelling sessions). My daughters would cry after the burst of anger from me and I would yell again, “Why are you crying?” Their response, “Because you yelled at me. I don’t like being yelled at, it hurts my feelings.” I remember a year ago my oldest daughter told me a lie and how angry I was at her, and I flailed my arms about in anger in front of her. And I remember her squeezing her eyes shut and raising her arm to protect her – because she thought I was going to hit her. What I saw was surreal. Had I become the nightmare I was battling for so long? Had I become the center of torment for my children? Never should a child flinch and recoil in such a manner. It sickened me, broke my heart, and made me fearful. I don’t physically discipline my children because I am afraid that, in my anger, I will go beyond my intent as a parent. I am afraid that I will hurt them the way I was hurt, scar them the way I was and not know when to stop.

Writing this part is so very hard for me, because I am exposing my fallacies, my short-comings for everyone to see. I am neither a good man, nor a good father or husband. Every day I see my weaknesses, my failings, my imperfections and each day I strive to tackle them and make those corrections – but it is extremely hard, especially when you're trained as a child to notice every single one of your fallacies. I do not care what your view of me is; what I care is that you can take what I am saying here and in the privacy of your own home, evaluate yourself and how you handle your children.

The physical self-defense, anti-kidnappings, anti-gang, anti-drug, anti-stranger, etc. is all great stuff – by all means. However, it is not the most important subject area for holistic child safety and protection. You and your relationship with your children are… and it’s missing out of 99% of the programs out there. Please understand and really take this to heart… you will affect (positively or negatively) your child(ren) more than anyone else in their life. You are creating a template, a foundation from which they will grow on their own. The platform you use will strongly determine where they go in life in terms of self-worry, self-doubt, low self-esteem, low self-worth, etc. “It is better to Prevent, than Circumvent” – take these words to heart, my friends. Give your child(ren) the most positive and constructive platform, encourage the hell out of them, don’t allow them to ever know what “fail” or “can’t” is. So many people in this world are miserable, mean, negative and all around bastards… help your child(ren) be the shining light of human potential.

Please don’t simply read this piece and say “Amen” without looking deep within yourself. Many of you have done wonderful things with your children – and you know you have made mistakes as well. Reconcile with your child(ren), reconcile with yourself and face your own personal demons. One of the goals of parenting is to raise a better generation that what we had and experienced – to pass the torch to our children and improve upon what we had. An old adage says that one can see if their parenting methods and the amount of love they gave their children were effective by looking at their grandchildren and how they are treated and loved. May live to see your grandchildren and may you smile upon the love they are given by their parents.

Be well and safe – and be THE source of happiness and comfort for your child(ren). May they only know your love and compassion.

Malachi Bond
Senshido Alaska 


  1. Awesome article Mal, one of the best of the blog to date brother, DO keep em comin!!!


  2. Its weird how the son becomes the father. Even though we don't want to we surprise ourselves and at the worst times see their old traits come out in us. Your definitly right how being a good parent is 99% more important than all the self defense you could teach them. And when you think about it shouldn't self defense just be an extension of being a good parent?

    Rick Saxby,

  3. Excellent article that I finally got around to reading Mal. You have serious skills with the written word. Thanks for this.