International Child Protection Month

September is International Child Protection Month.


TAKU’s NOTE: This subject speaks for itself. Get involved, spread the word, find out what you can do. Click the links to explore

Personal Safety Tips: PART ONE – Adults and Teens

This week I offer some simple, no nonsense tips to help you protect yourself from most assault, abuse, & other violence:

1. Act Calm & Confident. People will listen to you more and bother you less when you act aware, calm, and confident, not scared, mad, or aggressive. Show confidence in a way that is respectful, not challenging.

2. Stay Aware. Pay attention to everything around you: people, animals, cars, buses, & bikes. Notice people’s voices & gestures. Think about what you notice. Avoid using headphones.

3. Make Safety Plans. Identify the safest way to go places, even if the safest way is longer. Decide where you can get help, like in stores, along your routes. Practice interrupting & saying, “Excuse me, I need help.”

4. Plan to Carry Stuff Safely. In public, keep money & expensive items, like phones, out of sight. Use bags or carts that make it easy to move confidently. When possible, carry less.

5. Use Simple Safety Strategies. Consider sitting closer to the front of the bus or train, not the back, or by the aisle, not the window. Keep an important key or ticket in a pocket, not in a bag that could get stolen.

6. Move Away From Trouble. If someone’s behavior seems unsafe, leave as soon as you can. Move closer to a place you can get help, like a store or office. Speak up to get help. Persist until you get help.

7. Let Go of Stuff. Fighting over possessions is dangerous. Leave valuables at home when you can. If people are threatening to get your stuff, let it go. Leave. Go to people who can help you.

8. Speak Up. If something bothers you, say so. Set clear boundaries. Know how to say ‘Please stop.” Be ready to yell in an emergency. Be specific about your problem, where you are, & what you need.

9. Use Words Safely. Using mean, threatening, or attacking words, even if someone else did it first, can make problems much more dangerous. Using calm, clear, respectful language is safer.

10. Don’t Let Other People’s Words Control Your Feelings or Behavior. Filter verbal attack so you can notice unsafe, disrespectful words without letting them control your own choices and behavior.

11. Control Your Space. Open the door to your home only when you know you want to let the other in. Be willing to leave places, conversations, or relationships to be safe. Get space from people pressuring you to give money, time, or attention you do not want to give.

12. Put Safety First. Get Help. Being polite, kind, and respectful is important, but being safe is more important than being polite, kind, and respectful. Know how to get help from people you know and how to get help from strangers in public. Safety is more important than embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense.

13. Know Basic Physical Self-Defense Skills that Work for You. In a short time, people of all abilities can learn simple physical self-defense skills that fit their ages, physical condition, and life situations.


This free resource provided by Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit leader in education for the prevention of bulling, abuse, abduction, and violence since 1989. Serving people of all ages, all abilities, and all walks of life. For more, visit, call 800-467-6997 ext.1#, or email


I have been working with the international non-profit organization known as Kidpower for the past 15 years or so. At Kidpower, we use the term “People Safety” to mean people being safe with and around people. A strong foundation of People Safety skills can prepare individuals of all ages and abilities to enjoy life more through increased confidence, better relationships, and fewer problems with people. We teach these 10 core People Safety skills to children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs:

1. Act with awareness, calm, and respectful confidence so that people will listen to you better and bother you less.


2. Protect your feelings from hurtful words or behavior instead of taking negative messages inside where they can make you miserable for a very long time.


3. Stay in charge of what you say and do by managing your emotional triggers so that you are able to think clearly, make wise choices, and act respectfully towards others no matter how you feel inside.

4. Recognize what is and is not safe so that you can assess a situation and avoid most trouble before it starts. This includes knowing and using Kidpower’s Relationship Safety Rules and Stranger Safety Rules.

5. Move away from trouble and towards safety so that you can stop problems quickly, before they grow.

6. Check First and Think First before you make decisions about what you do, who is with you, and where you go. Until they have the experience and the skills to make these decisions for themselves, children are safest if they Stay Together with their parents and other responsible adults and Check First before changing the plan. Both children and adults are safest if they Think First.


7. Set powerful and respectful boundaries so that you can speak up for what you do and do not want, listen to what other people do and do not want, and work out problems with others.

8. Follow the safety rules about touch, teasing, and play in healthy relationships so that you can have fun and avoid unsafe behavior.

9. Persist until you get the help you need so that you know how to find people who have the power to help you, when and how to interrupt someone who is distracted or busy, and how to keep asking if someone doesn’t listen.

10. Be prepared to use your voice and body to stop an attack so that you can escape from a violent situation and get to safety where someone can help you.

Not sure how to practice these skills? Our many books make excellent holiday gifts that can prepare you to use People Safety skills in your daily life and teach them to others.

Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful, safe week,


By Mike Suyematsu

Hello hybrid fitness folks. My name is Mike Suyematsu, from now on I’ll just be Coach Mike. I’m not going to bore you with my bio. You can read that on the website if you feel like it.

Thank you for giving me the chance to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned in over 45 years of training and applying self protection principles.

Like many people who practice and study self-defense I was bullied as a child. It was very important to me to learn not how to fight but how to survive as I was having problems with bullies on almost a daily basis as a young boy. I looked at martial arts as a way to learn to fight better, something to give me an edge in the ongoing war against the constant stream of idiots who tried to make my life hell.

Rather than regale you with dry lectures I will tell you stories from my past and events that actually happened to me. At the end I will include lessons on either how I screwed up or how I succeeded or what I learned from what happened to me in the hope that you’ll benefit from my experience.

I will also include stories and lessons from trusted friends I have met through the years. These are all guys who have, ” been there and done that ” and we should all pay careful attention to what they have to say.

Let’s begin with some simple stories about awareness…

I was around 9 years old walking to the store to buy some candy. It was during the summer and I was alone probably in the later part of the morning say around 11:00 AM. Because it was a nice day and I was thinking more about how to spend my money than what was going on around me, I didn’t here the approaching steps from behind. In fact, the only time I realized there was something wrong was when I was shoved to the sidewalk, face first. I managed to get my hands down in time to keep my head from crashing into the sidewalk but they were scraped and bleeding when I finally came to a stop.

I turned to my back but before I could react I was grabbed by the legs and arms and lifted into the air. I was able to wriggle one leg free but it was too late as I was thrown into a sewer ditch that was being excavated for a new building about a block away from the store I was headed to.

My bad luck continued when my my head hit a pipe at the bottom of the ditch. I was not knocked out however, and was able see who had assaulted me.

Gary and Ron were fifth graders in the elementary school I attended. I was in the third grade, but these guys were famous for being bullies at our school and they did not mind picking on smaller, younger kids.

I sustained some minor scrapes and bruises and the right side of my head was cut open and bled like crazy as I walked back home, tears of anger and pain streaming out of my eyes and worst of all, no candy to show for all the hassle I had just been through.

As it turns out I was targeted by the bullies because they had heard that my Japanese father, (my mother was Irish which confused all the rednecks in the little town I grew up in) was teaching me Judo. I already had some what of a reputation at my school and fought a lot, primarily with kids my age, who just didn’t appreciate the whole mixed race thing.

Gary and Ron wanted to make sure this Judo crap wouldn’t interfere with their bullying activities and my lack of resistance proved to them that they had nothing to fear from what they thought I was learning.

As it turns out, my dad did some boxing but never studied Judo or Karate. My fighting success had come mostly from trial and error with the exception of my patented punch to the stomach which carried me through all my fights in elementary school except for one, but that’s another story.

Now, it took me several months to get partial revenge on these idiots. Ron actually got into so much trouble with the law he ended up going to what we called ” reform school ” at the time.

That left Gary alone.

I waited until winter time before I could catch Gary just like he caught me. I followed him home one snowy day. The wind was blowing hard so we all had our hoods on and it was freezing so the goal was to get home as fast as possible.

Gary never saw or heard me as I ran up on him when he started up the front steps to his house. I shoved him from behind, just like he and Ron had done to me. The steps were icy and Gary’s feet just flew out from under him and he came down on the steps hard, hurting his knee.

He just laid there crying, holding his knee and I got scared and ran home.

I never had any trouble with Gary again. I don’t know if Ron is even still alive, but I still owe him one…

Now what does that little story tell us about self protection/ self defense?

It is really not possible for me to overemphasize how important awareness really is.

When I was attacked I had no chance to react to anything Ron and Gary did. It would not have mattered if I really had known Judo or anything else. Without awareness I was just a target and an easy victim.

Look at what happened to Gary. Because he was cold and wanted to get home, he ignored the fact I was following him if he even noticed. Again, he lacked awareness. Even though I was smaller and weaker, it was easy to to get Gary because he just didn’t see it coming.

Some of you may find it odd that I am starting my posts on self protection with the experiences of a 9 year old Coach Mike. The point is that the principles of self protection / self defense are universal. They apply equally to children and adults. They apply to men and women. They transcend time.

You see you can train your take downs, your right cross, your kicks and fancy moves. You can go to the range and learn to shoot your gun. You can carry a gun and three knives.

Without awareness all your preparation is worthless.


Even though they were just kids, Gary and Ron displayed perfect Predatory Behavior.

How much difference is there between me being taken unaware and thrown in a hole and a rich businessman in a foreign country being taken by surprise and thrown in a panel van?

Or how about the coed jogging with the iPod with the music blaring who gets doesn’t see the two guys coming up behind her so they can throw her in the bushes?

Let’s look at some of the elements common in ambush style attacks. First has to be motivation. When I was attacked it was a combination of bullying and curiosity. For kidnappers it’s probably money. A rapist is motivated by his own sick desires. When I attacked Gary it was purely revenge.

You have to pay attention to what is going on in your life. If you have been targeted like I was you have to stay alert because sometimes the haters in the world act out, sometimes with violence. Don’t think it can’t ever happen to you.

If you are known to carry large sums of cash or wear expensive jewelry you need to stay aware. Bad guys generally hate work and need money.

Females of all ages have to be made aware that they attract attention. Sometimes it is the wrong kind of attention. Sometimes it’s a stalker. Keep in mind that even though you may feel that you have the right to jog wherever you want, dress however you want, leave your drink out if you want, you may be exposing yourself to danger by making yourself a target.

The point is that for self defense / personal protection you must deal with the reality of what is, not the idea of what should be. Deny reality and you just might pay the price. Being apathetic will also help to diminish or cancel awareness altogether.


The OODA LOOP was created by Colonel John Boyd who was a fighter pilot and an expert on military strategy. OODA is an acronym standing for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. Simply stated, you Observe a situation, then Orient or begin to analyze which leads you to Decide what to do, and then Act.

This is a gross simplification of a brilliant process that I will write more about another time. For our purposes today you can see that if you don’t Observe the problem  or situation you have no chance to Act.

This is the reason why Awareness trumps all other self protection skills. You simply can not take action of any kind if you don’t see it coming. Of course just being aware of the problem is just the first step in the process. But it is the most critical.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Awareness as I am breaking it down here is “sellf awareness”.  Being aware of what is going on inside you is just as important as what is going on in the outside you. You need to Listen to your internal warning system, your instincts.

Gavin DeBecker’s excellent book entitled “The Gift of Fear” offers the best information out there with regards to listening to your inner voice and trusting your instincts. Mr DeBecker goes in to great detail about how fear signals are there to alert and protect us. It is a must read for anyone interested in self defense and personal protection. It may be out of print currently, but I know it is available on Amazon in the Kindle Books section. I lost my old print copy and got the digital version a few months ago. Please do yourself and your loved ones a favor and give it a read.

Next try  this mental exercise I learned from Tony Blauer years ago in his Personal Defense Readiness program. There are three phases. They are:

1. Evaluate your routine. Here you are going to start thinking like a bad guy who is attempting to rob, rape or murder you. You need to examine your routine to find the obvious places where you might be vulnerable to an attack. Your lifestyle will determine where and how often you will be a potential target. Flip the scenario and figure out when and where you would attack you. Then take steps to change your routine to make it harder for the bad guy to get to you.

2. Evaluate your mind. If you have already read “Gift of Fear” you will have a head start on this phase. Here is where you carefully examine your ability to deal with confrontations. Are you overly aggressive or extremely passive? If you are short tempered and blow up easily it may cause problems. On the other hand if you appear weak and project a lack of confidence you will actually attract trouble.

I will address the issue of body language and not looking like an easy target in great detail in another article. I will also break down the mind/ body connection and offer suggestions on how to build authentic confidence through proper training.  For now just take a good look at yourself and how you deal with confrontation.

3. Finally, evaluate your arsenal. In this phase you will need to look at what you bring to the table physically, emotionally and mentally in a real street confrontation. If you have correctly done your homework in the Evaluate your routine phase, then it will simplify the process of figuring out what skills you have and what you need to survive. You can prioritize your personal protection training by analyzing the threats you will most likely come into contact with.

What is going on in your current environment? Armed robbery? Home invasion? Car jacking? Maybe it is simple purse snatching.  In my area, there has been a rash of robberies by predators looking for gold chains. Just a short time ago a 60 year old man was murdered in broad daylight as he did his morning walk, just for the gold chain he wore around his neck. If he had been aware of the crime spree and left his chain at home he might still be alive today.

Your training must include a plan for dealing with single unarmed attacks, single armed attacks, multiple attackers armed and unarmed and all the different environments you may come into contact with. Again, I will break environmental training and scenario and replication training in future articles. For now start your evaluation process and begin to activate your awareness skills.

As you can see, the concept of awareness is multi layered and multi faceted. I have attempted to give a quick overview of what the general concept of awareness entails.

It will cost you nothing but time and analysis to get started on a safer path through life. Awareness, both internal and external is without a doubt your first and most important line of self defense.

Get started today and stay safe,

Coach Mike

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Mike S. for sharing more of his experience with us here. Looking forward to more in the future.


By Mike Suyematsu

Hello to everyone out there in Hybrid Fitness land!  My name is Mike Suyematsu and it is my honor to be your guide into the world of self protection strategies. First of all, I need to clarify my position as we go forward. I consider myself a life long student of Martial Ways and Self Defense. My goal is to bring you the lessons I have learned at the feet of Masters, mixed with my own experience.

Hopefully you will all benefit in some way from my obsession with what really works in the streets. I will share with you what I have learned to avoid, evade and escape danger, We will also look at physical options if evading,  avoiding and defusing fail to do the job.

I will detail the lessons I have learned about what you must prepare for mentally and emotionally to deal with a real hostile threat.

I will show you what I believe are the best methods of defense. Purpose driven weapons, improvised weapons and natural or unarmed weapons for self protection / self defense.

You will also learn about use of force or appropriate levels of what you may legally do in response to verbal or physical confrontation. Force must always parallel danger.

I will recommend books, DVDS and training that will educate and prepare you for what you must do to protect yourself and those you love.

Let’s get started…

We will begin with mental preparation. We know the mind controls the body, so without mental preparation, awareness skills or what I am calling “Active Awareness” you will not be prepared to do anything physically.

My first book recommendation is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker. It is a must read by anyone interested in self defense. It teaches us to listen to the intuitive signals in the brain that help warn us about danger. I just got the Kindle version off Amazon the other day. I got my first paperback copy 12 years ago as part of a reading list assigned by Tony Blauer in his Personal Defense Readiness Program.

Speaking of Tony Blauer, my next recommendation is his Mental Edge Audio CDs. They are full of incredible information and form the basis for much of what we will be doing here in the future. Cruise over to if you want to pick those up.

Most of the time folks get the wrong idea about what true self protection really is. They think that the physical techniques they may have seen in movies or on TV or even You Tube are what they need to know to protect themselves and or their families. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Real self protection skills begin by listening to your own intuitive radar. This is not some weird voice from beyond, but rather an inborn gift, traceable back to our primitive ancestors. If you do your homework and read or listen to DeBecker and Blauer, you will already be light-years ahead  of the average person out there who just believes that bad things always happen  to someone else and that it could never happen to them…

I will return to the subject of intuition later, but for now I ask that you do some homework and I will move on to how to cultivate a more active awareness both internally and externally.

Now back to the mental side of self protection or what I call “active awareness.”  Let me state again, In order for you to defend yourself physically, you must be engaged mentally. The term “awareness” can be applied to your awareness of what is going on outside you in your environment and also what is going on inside your mind, INTERNAL ACTIVE AWARENESS.

Back in the 70’s I read a book entitled “Zen Karate” by Randall Bassett. His approach to the mental side of fighting included some unique ideas on what he called using self-presence in the face of a threat. According to Mr. Bassett, one has to be aware what he described as negative subconscious “tapes” which tend to sabotage your efforts to take action. His examples include “tapes” like, ” This is going to be bad!” or ” You don’t have what it takes!”

You will no doubt have your own way of talking to yourself, the important thing is to listen to how you talk to yourself. Monitor your mind content and when you are defeating yourself, counter and overcome your negative thoughts with positive or productive thoughts which motivate you to move forward and deal with the challenge in front of you.

More soon…

Mike S.

P.S. I should mention that my good friend and co-conspirator here in hybrid fitness land, Liam Bauer, Is also an expert in the world of self protection skills and has been an Instructor for at least 15 years that I know of.  Liam teaches from the heart and has personally instructed hundreds of people throughout the years on how to defend themselves. We will tap into his considerable knowledge, insight and experience as we progress . We’re extremely lucky to have him as resource here on the subject of self protection.  Years ago I attended one of Liam’s classes with my oldest daughter. It was a truly eye opening experience.  I will write more on this later, but if you ever have a chance to attend one of Liam’s Full Power classes, jump on

Teachers and Mentors

By Mike Suyematsu

I have had many great teachers and mentors in my life. Number one would be my Dad, Taro Suyematsu. He worked two and sometimes three jobs his whole life. He raised a family of five rowdy boys who never really gave him rest until the later years of his life. He had his share of dust ups and fights through out his life first as a young boy protecting my Aunts from “Jap” haters and later as a bartender.

Dad was big on teaching us boys to behave, but always gave us permission to stand up for ourselves. He hated bullies. I was raised in a small town where I stood out as a complete oddity being mixed race. I got picked on and jumped in school, at the park, on the way to the store, at the carnival, etc, etc.

One time when I was about 12, I was afraid to go to school because this idiot kept picking on me and I knew if I fought him I would get suspended. I told Dad about it and I remember our conversation like it was yesterday…

“Hey Dad I’m afraid I might get in trouble at school. This kid keeps on picking on me and he won’t leave me alone.”

Dad looked up from his dinner and asked, “Is this guy an idiot?”

“Yeah Dad he just won’t leave me alone and I don’t know what to do.”

“Mike, if this guy is an idiot you don’t have a choice. You can’t talk to an idiot. The only thing an idiot understands is pain. The only thing you do with an idiot is beat the shit out of him. He will understand that.”

The next day I got suspended from school. The idiot walked up to me in the hall before first period and started his shit. I lit him up with a single punch to the nose which dropped him into a pile of sobbing snot and blood.

It was the best day I ever had at school. Dad made me do chores and kept me busy for the three days I was off from school. I had lots of witnesses who came to the principal to testify that my actions were in self defense.

I had to apologize to the idiot, but everything was cool from then on. Pain is a great communicator. At that point, my Dad set my attitude in stone…

I have great respect for Dan Inosanto, Vut Kamnark, the sayoc system, etc. the reason I studied Martial Arts was not to compete, it was to save my ass. The number one thing you have to have is attitude. The system you learn may or may not work for you. You can develop tools, like punches, kicks, take downs and chokes. You can develop attributes like timing, speed, agility and strength.

But everything is worthless until the mind is engaged. Some of the absolute best fighters I have ever met have no name recognition. In fact some of them are dead or in jail. Most of them never opened schools or made it in to Black Belt Magazine.

Here is a short list of names of some of the most dangerous fighters I have ever trained with:

Henry R.
Alfred C.
Angel Cabales
Tony Blauer
Eric Shingu
Vince Lopez
Raymond Lopez
Mike S. (not me!)
Brandon B.
Ryan M.
Hank D.
Keith K.

I have left out the last name of some on the list because they are in prison or don’t wish to be identified. At least one of them is currently in a witness protection program. A few are active LEO’S, SWAT Officers, Snipers and have experience in MMA and Kick Boxing as well as BJJ. A few have killed doing crimes and a few have killed in the line of duty protecting us from the bad guys.

Most of my life has been spent looking for what works in the street. Ring sports like MMA and Boxing are sources of entertainment and knowledge. There is some overlap between ring or cage sports and street, but they are definitely not the same.

In order to train for the street you must include dealing with multiples opponents and opponents with weapons, single or multiple. It is in this arena that things get radically different than the cage or ring.

That being said, on the physical side of things you must be able to mount a good unarmed attack because you won’t in most cases have your weapon out and ready to in everyday life. Learning to take contact is critical. Anyone can do it, safely and scientifically with the right teacher and equipment. I love Tony Blauer’s High Gear just for that purpose. If you do MMA, Kick Boxing or Boxing, you can deal with contact.

Here is my first lesson for anyone who is interested in learning about learning to protect yourself or loved ones from a street assault.

1. Check out Tony Blauer’s Cerebral  Self Defense audio CDs.
2. Check out Marc McYoung’s website.
3. Pick up a copy of Rory Miller’s book, “Meditations on Violence

That’s it for now.

Take Care,


TAKU’s NOTE: Last December I mentioned that we would add some new articles about Self defense from one of our inner circle Mike Suyematsu. Well it took me a while to get around to it… Thanks to Mike S. for sharing some of his stories with us. I’ll be looking forward to many more in the not too distant future.


I Wanted to take a moment to let folks know that one of our founding members Mike Suyematsu, will be creating a new series of original content on personal protection, self defense, combat sports, etc.

For those who have not yet heard of Mike, here is a little background on him:

Mike Suyematsu


Mike Suyematsu is a fitness and martial arts instructor with over 38 years of experience. His extensive and diverse martial arts resume includes such styles as Kempo, Kajukenbo, Goju Karate, Northern Style Shaolin Gung Fu, PFS Jeet Kune Do, Cabales Serrada Escrima, boxing and wrestling. In addition, Mike is a Certified Principles Coach in Tony Blauer’s PDR (Personal Defense Readiness) Program and is extremely well versed in close-quarter combat and weapons training.

Mike’s list of clients is as diverse as his experience. They include police and S.W.A.T officers, business executives, retirees, college students and combat athletes, among others. Mike brings a unique mix of fitness knowledge with years of self-defense training. He’s “walked the walk” so to speak. Mikes wealth of knowledge make him an important member of the team and what he teaches can literally mean the difference between life and death.