Looking For Power In All the Wrong Places: To Find Your Fierce Look To Your Heart

   about-bottomRecently I was reviewing some quoted material and found this. It speaks to what I call The BIG SHIFT.

 “Real personal safety calls for nothing less than the re-awakening of instincts that allow for early recognition of danger, the skills and strategies to diffuse and escape violence, and the ability to mobilize deep-seated primal powers to fight off attack. 

It commands a monumental shift in women’s self perceptions, the channeling of intense emotions, unlocking a power and authority women often don’t know they posses. It taps into what Soalt calls, Fierce Love and a knowing in one’s heart: What is worth fighting for? What is non-negotiable? Where do I draw that line? ” 

Self Defense From The Inside Out.

I want to be kick ass! women blurt out with gusto. Great!, I say. But understand this: Self defense is an inside-out job. Before branding ourselves toughees we need to confront our feelings of vulnerability – otherwise known as ‘the female fear’ – which quietly lurks in the background of women’s lives.

Imagine for a moment that you are under attack. That your words and best efforts at peaceful persuasions have failed, that escape is not an immediate option, that terror has seized your heart with such a mighty force that you can barely stand, think, breathe…

Now hit the pause button.

Here’s the critical question: “If under attack, where will YOU go inside yourself to mobilize the focus and presence of mind to effectively act; to unfreeze your fear, activate power and call up courage with the whole of your heart? (Not to mention contending with the effects of an adrenaline-spiked cocktail pumping through your veins which can just as easily hijack your thinking-brain as gift you with super power.)

How will you collect yourself and command your emotions to rally in formation, your subatomic self forging an iron will? And do this in a heartbeat because seconds count.

If you secretly imagined that you’d crumble or get stuck in the freeze —  and if so, I assure you: you are in VERY good company!- ditch that image, and prepare to re-imagine…What if you knew that in a pinch, you could become a dangerous dame and effectively be your own best protector and self defender? 

The Good News Answer: You can and need to be. There IS such a place, a go-to zone and a way to rapidly mobilize skill and power. The path to arousing female power is akin to arousing female desire. It taps into a complex network of feelings, a circuitry not only rooted in biology and the brain but also intimate places spanning our loins and limbs, heart and soul. It’s a primal ‘heat’  that lives far below the topsoil of our everyday ‘nice lady’ selves, our cover-girl veneer. Yet for many, the capacity to BE the aroused warrior has atrophied or become dormant, buried beneath fear or conditioning of one kind or another, subsumed by the artificial constructs of femininity and by socialization which favors women’s nurturing, do-no-harming nature. So it needs to be unearthed, reinstalled, and turned back ON. Then kept on like a pilot light’s flame which can be adjusted as needed. Because in the Moment of Truth all systems must be GO! 

What’s Been Amiss: Looking for Power in all the Wrong Places


The biggest problem and “miss” (especially for women) in the larger martial and self defense world is that power has traditionally been influenced if not defined by men and the male mindset. That’s a mouthful I know.
What I mean is this: the male self defense paradigm has largely focused on an external constellation of power: the strong muscular body, the high-powered martial moves, the pumped and steely mindset as the primary ways and means of sourcing and delivering power, and succeeding in self defense and by extension in the ‘battle’ of life. 

While strength, moves and mindset are vitally important, they aren’t the whole story of power, nor necessarily the most critical components for women who typically lack the luxury of greater size and strength and often the mental or social conditioning to ‘return fire’ if they need to go physical. 

The Female Way

For most women, sourcing power and warrior spirit is INTERNAL and connected to feelings. It is as much about working “in” as working out.

It entails calling up will-power and courage from our deepest emotional reserves, descending into the basement of our being to access strength and grit. It means pulling power from terror and fury itself and bringing this fire into our fight.

In other words, for women, the directive to physically self defend doesn’t just originate in our bodies and brains or from knowing strategies in our heads or even from the fight/ flight effects of adrenaline.


It often arises in a completely different organ: The Heart. It arrives via the emotional and feeling body. And from a place that is both spiritual in nature AND rooted in survival instincts which must be leveraged in our defense.

Once a woman discerns where she draws that line, deciding what is not negotiable, uncompromising, and worth fighting for, this retrieval of power can happen in a heartbeat.

The Power of LOVE  

Women often discover their greatest strengths and abilities through feelings of love. Where there is love, there is ferocity which naturally arises to then protect what a woman loves or holds sacred. Be it safeguarding her boundaries, her body, her own life or the lives and sovereign dignity of her loved ones.


When I talk about “ferocity” I don’t mean a hate-filled emotional recklessness but rather a powerful surge of forceful, directed, maddening energy – whether it’s driven by fear, fury, love or survival. It’s a willful uninhibited force. It is the fevered taste, the already whetted appetite of a hungry lioness; it’s what allows us to punch, tear or claw our way out of darkness or an overwhelming life crisis.

Ferocity is that BIG bolus of juice, of toughness that enables us to swim upstream and fight uphill aided by defiance, a certain gnash in the teeth, and a singular focus to see our way through to the other side.

In context of self defense its purpose is to preserve life and dignity — not to ‘teach him a lesson or make ’em pay.’ It is not rooted in revenge.

The thing about ferocity is that it not only boosts physical strength, but dissolves inhibitions, hosing out obstacles and rallying the will. So it’s a superpower akin to what has traditionally been termed “killer instinct’ — a phrase that still chafes against women’s empathetic nature and sense of connected-ness, including my own. (Yes, even I, plucky brave-hearted leader, have a hard time spitting out the term “killer instinct” and I much prefer “ferocity” and “dangerousness.”)

In the end, perhaps ferocity isn’t just an attitude but a destination. A go-to place and primordial state of being that is au naturalle and organic like the ferocity of childbirth. For women, this ‘state’ needs to become second nature, a second soul-home.

Get Your Mojo Pumping and Back Online 

Although many can teach tactics and tools, Soalt believes that only a female can bring other women into this ‘primal zone’ within themselves. The courage and skills to safeguard boundaries and summon one’s might in the face of fear is best — and most directly–transmitted and realized through a female role model….”

Below are my essential four components and means to realizing this potential, to clearing the path, reinstalling your power, deflating your fear, working with your emotions, and arriving at that sweet spot, where the outermost layers of fear burn off to reveal something far more fearsome. It’s Womanly. It’s Primal. Read on……”

Survival like romance must capture our hearts.



Hara-scope: How Your Hara Can Help Your Stress


We know it’s bad for our health and can make us sick. We’re supposed to reduce stress, ward against it, repel it like a foreign invader. Neutralize stress with exercise, breathing techniques, drugs and “happy” thoughts. (Yeah right.)

Now let’s get gritty about stress and what it does. My writer friend Jen Sexton sums it up nicely in an article for the Cape Cod Chronicle:

Stress attacks your emotional well being, bringing about feelings of fear, distrust, anger, and depression. In turn, these feelings may bring about headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, ulcers, skin rashes and eyelid twitches, not to mention the even more serious problems of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Stress wages war on the immune system, making us less able to resist diseases of all types. Scientists have even revealed a clear connection between stress and cancer.

OK we need to kick it’s ass. 

But you want to know what’s really stressful? F-E-A-R.

More stressful? The traumatic aftermath of violence or rape. Or living with a gnawing sense of what the fuck will I do if that bad thing happens like it’s happened to (fill in the blank with names of women you know or friends of friends or that woman on your favorite TV drama or the chick on the evening news who thought her date/ husband / the new guy down the street was just fine.)

Want to know what the best stress-buster and antidote is for THIS particular anxiety which is another word for STRESS?

Come a little closer and I’ll tell you—-and No, ‘m not gonna whisper a guided mediation in your ear or tell you to go inside and visualize wildflowers or the perfect ocean breeze.


Madness. And a hearty, muscular fight and flight instinct coupled with the know- how to ACTUALLY kick ass. To stick it to the Man, so to speak, when and if he or she tries to stick it to you.  

Let’s be clear: By possessing a muscular “fight and flight” instinct I’m not talking about paranoia or creating hyper-vigilanance– that would be stress-inducing –or being knee jerk reactive, but rather having a healthy felt-awareness of your strength and of the reality of potential danger –all with a spring in your step and a va-va-voom feeling of power that lives in your hips and LOWER BODY- the Hara as it’s called in Japanese. It’s a physical and spiritual power-center located roughly two to three fingers below your belly button then smack-dab into the center of your body.

To Walk with Power and Deliver Power Drop DOWN Into Your HARA!

Think of it as your new favorite body-based locale, your go to and sometimes rush to place. It’s immediately useful–far more than Serenity OM’s– when the fear of danger, its sudden ejaculate of stress strikes your system and can overwhelm. Bummer.

This is part of WHY I’m all about our glorious LOWER half: Because fear – especially sudden fear–makes us rise out of our base. Just imagine a frightful in-breath that lingers too long at the top of the inhale. Everything rises and nothing touches down in critical  moments. This is precisely what baddies count on: to freeze your breath and get that RISE out of you. To throw you off balance in every which way. From their point of view this is a great start.

Countering this stress of fear and being ready and able to act in a jiffy – be it to fight or flee or even to speak with gravity and authority- may hinge on your ability to swiftly lower your center of gravity and drop into your HARA.

Find it. Go there. What’s your Hara-scope say?


Raising Fire From Fear: A Screed. A Revolution. A Manifesto in the Makings.

With a little alchemy and will power we raise fire from fear.

“The tribe that possessed fire possessed life.” — 1982 film, Quest for Fire

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”  Gustav Mahler

I love these quotes. They speak of truth and a deep reverence for what has come before.

They also speak to the power of fire as pivotal to life, as primordial. Easy to see if we zip back in time… In prehistoric days fire meant life: it meant warmth, cooked food, better tools and community. Life gathered and unfolded around fire. “Watch fires” set around dens and camps is also what helped keep predators at bay. It enabled survival, allowing our kin  to literally “take back the night.”

So vital was fire to life that tribes had literal keepers of the flame. Their task was to carry  still smoldering embers wrapped in grassy leaves and bark-wrapped bundles from camp to camp. In this manner fire was kept at the ready– ready to be re-stoked and brought back to life at the tribe’s new digs. (I imagine its classified job listing. Wanted: Reliable fellow with good lungs for ultimate BLOW JOB.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that once our ancestors learned to make fire at will and were no longer dependent upon lightning strikes or stealing fire from rival clans, it changed the course of evolution. It enabled our ancestors to then turn their attention to higher pursuits — to culture and community and to a little thing called LOVE. This all started with knowing how to kindle a flame; a flame which became a portal to a whole new life.

This is also the potential power of women’s self defense: to liberate women from their deepest survival fears–at least alleviate undue fear by being armed with skill, strategy keenly cultivated instincts – so that we can nurture and manifest our full 3-D  potential.

Mahler’s quote also relates to my urging for the preserving of fire – more specifically its UTILITY as a self defense weapon and why women need to turn this flame up a notch

In my Dharma Of Defense I speak of the elements of FIRE and ICE. This combo of forces was best described to me once by a teacher and former combatant as a need to be “on fire from the neck down and ice cold from the neck up.”

Or as I prefer to say, we need a HOT body and a COOL head. Amen to that sistahs.

Here’s the deal: If confronted or frightened you want to keep a cool head, yes! (De-escalate. Lower an aggressor’s arousal. Calmly, swiftly extricate yourself.) But if a woman has to GO PHYSICAL to escape a larger, stronger, pumped up creature intent on harm, she best be packing a charge of primal power and heat, armed with the know-how to explode into a target with the ability to source this power from loins and limbs, from her sex and her soul– and to bring it in a heartbeat. It’s a power that must be kindled from the inside out. A knowing to be kept aglow in the heart, ON at all times.

Think of this as a pilot light to be adjusted as needed–from the luminous kindle (no particular threat, life at large) to a suddenly, violently ignited whoosh. (When it’s time to go ballistic on someone’s ass.) It’s a power born of love, fury and primal survival instinct. It dwells in heart and hide; it can quicken your pulse, flash a mean heat across your face  and feed deeper life forces and desires– from the carnal to the spiritual.

Not too shabby!

Let me say: I don’t shake my head and tsk tsk or merely view this as a necessary evil as in– Isn’t it a terrible shame that women have to learn self defense stuff, have this switch turned On? NO! On the contrary I view this readied charge and female-animal potency as part of the larger constellation of life forces, as downright womanly, as part of THE FIGHTING EROS OF LIFE.

If you don’t already know this facet of yourself, let me assure you: It’s a beautiful thing – and it can save your pretty ass.

Finding and switching on this fierce female source is personal to each of us, but it’s also political with far-reaching ripple effects. When this tool is alighted by women en masse we can burn down myths and burn IN ownership of our own courageous and outrageous warrior nature- which might otherwise be crippled by fear.


It was precisely this fighting spirit that gave birth to WOMEN’S SELF DEFENSE as a movement and consciousness which was spawned in the 70’s, born of the coupling between martial arts and feminism. This was no nebbishy exercise! It arose as a   RESISTANCE MOVEMENT to combat rape, as a viable means of “taking our bodies back” and to paraphrase Black Belt Women’s Nancy Lehman, from the need to feel our force. (Oh how I love this phrase: Feel Our Force. That something as elemental as learning to protect our boundaries and bodies was deemed “RADICAL” by many… is a  telling statement indeed.)

And so this phrase coined by feminist Andrea Dworkin became an emerging war-cry:

 Resist do not comply.

Which brings me back to the quotes about FIRE and another reason WHY we need to turn this flame up a notch: When any discipline or “movement” (Yoga for example) crosses over from grassroots to mainstream and becomes commercialized, something inevitably gets lost or diminished in the process of proliferation. So too, as women’s self defense has become mainstreamed, has become Big “profit center” Business –with franchises and licenses, with weekend and online certifications–and as its been exposed to the dampening winds of political correctness, some of its ORIGINAL FIRE has dimmed, fallen by the wayside in favor of “ten easy steps” or reduced to mere exercise (don’t even get me started) or subsumed by the ubiquitous language of ‘personal safety’ —a term I fiercely resist. Not because it isn’t an accurate umbrella (who among us doesn’t want to be safer?), but because it distances from the primal heart and martial bloodline of self defense, dispatching what belongs in the realm of the senses to a higher headier mount. To a more sanitized, gentrified mindset of cautionary tips and do’s and don’ts whereby FEMALE FEROCITY– its ire and blood-pulsing might -is easily deemed irrelevant, a mere PS in the equation of “what works.”


Put another way SELF DEFENSE LITE subjugates the need to feel and cultivate our force, to nurture our will and authority for “applied violence” (when needed), to ennoble and verify our own dangerous capacities and female fighting instincts.

And honestly now… personal safety?... what a lustless term. Feh! (We can do better!)

Here’s the bottom-line, my call to arms if you will, a bit trumpeting albeit:   

“As long as men are the sole agents of aggression and women are the casualties of their actions, the victims on the pointy end of men’s violent entitlements, there will NEVER be a balance of power between the sexes. Women will remain relegated to a subordinate status, too powerless or simply too fearful to resist the dominance and brutalities of others, limited by social contract and constraint in the ways in which we can express our own ferocities, yearnings, and fighting spirit.

The gig is up. We must no longer outsource our protection to men– to fathers, husbands, brothers, boyfriends or saviors in khaki or uniform blue. It’s time to bring this power home, refasten it to our womanly roots, to reap its fruits, harvest its furies and acquire the skills to Self Defend. It’s time to rekindle this flame, lionize ourselves, and raise FIRE FROM FEAR.

       Each and together may we become outposts of courage.”


To arrive at a cure (on OUR end I mean) we need to brave the scary places, the dark corners and basement of our “what if” fears- which isn’t always unfounded mind you. Only by confronting our vulnerability – which, face it ladies, we all feel to one extent or another; we all know fear’s imprint, the toll it takes, the signature tracks it leaves in the female psyche and soma; it’s ills, indigntiies and dimiinishing effects…only THEN can we release the POWER that lies in its wake.

Let this journey happen. Grab a torch and dig in. We’re going DOWN TOWN into the primal zone where Fear and Power not only co-exist but often entwine like lovers enmeshed. And from this savage union FEROCITY awakens.