Available programs include Lunch Hour Threat Assessment Workshops (email us for information on Corporate and Small Group options), a DVD and CD.

Don’t forget to check our Resources section.

Future offerings… the revamped Get Offensive Online Course (formerly Secrets of Women’s Self Defense), Mommy & Me Self Defense Ebook, Devi & Goliath ebook, and GO! (Get Offensive) fitness classes!


Protective Offense is the new self-defense and empowerment paradigm for women who want to revel in the chess game of life, use emotions wisely, see conflict as opportunity and raise productive, resilient children who are unlikely to become victims or criminals.

Protective Offense connects Self Defense, Leadership and Self Help.

Protective Offense is an ongoing project. Ultimately the Mission of Protective Offense is to fuse self defense and personal security with Leadership, Empowerment and Self Help in a comprehensive, scientifically and psychologically based program of high-speed problem solving, self and situational awareness, boundary-setting, emergency management, conflict resolution, leadership skills and targeted physical answers to violence for women and families.

And it should be offered in a way that makes it accessible and even fun – a series of life tools that can be learned and practiced in collaboration with kids and family by way of live and online workshops, video, audio, books and games.

Protective Offense is for women and families

Protective Offense is for women in unsafe relationships of any kind, for women with children but no help, women who are ill or injured, women who live in bad neighborhoods or who have dangerous jobs. It’s for women who work late and ride elevators after hours, or who like to drink and party and would rather not give it up but want to be smart. It’s for women with friends or family members who have been raped or assaulted and those who are just curious about how predators think and what they look for in a victim. Protective Offense is for any woman who wants to be able to take care of herself and not just say she can.

Today women are still stuck using ancient concepts in modern self defense classes. Why aren’t instructors more connected and creative? Why do we still think kicking and punching is synonymous with self-defense? Why don’t we teach self-defense strategies in grade school and high school? Why do classes only teach how to get out of trouble rather than how to stay out of trouble?

Many women lack interest in self-defense because they feel their particular issues aren’t addressed (kids and pregnancy for example), or because taking a class means frequenting sweaty, male-dominated gyms where they feel unwelcome. When women do show interest, modern self-defense offers simplistic fighting techniques out of context and with the potential to put women in danger by giving them a false sense of security.

Protective Offense is the term I arguably created and have encouraged for the last ten years. “Self-defense” is the legal term you use to describe to the judge why you hit someone with a baseball bat. “Self” leaves out others we are responsible for and “defense” is too reactionary. Women need a term and a plan that is more active, more powerful and inclusive of the people who depend on us.

Since we can’t count on the cavalry riding in or an attacker’s ineptitude for our survival, we need a plan, preferably one that is tailored to us. The only way to do this, is to learn what options we have to stop a person or people who are willing to cheat and who probably outclass us in both strength and fight experience, and to piece together our own best strategy. And this knowledge translates easily to many types of conflict in the work place and life that could be managed in a way that creates prosperity rather than misery.

Protective Offense is about the chess game of life, seeing a few moves ahead and being the masters of our own existence.

“Don’t blame a hurricane for being a hurricane, build a stronger house.”

~ Teja VanWicklen


You might be here to learn to kick ass, or to be more mentally and emotionally secure or to move past something that happened. You might be here for your kids or because you’ve just moved to a not-so-nice neighborhood. These are all good reasons. And since the Physical, Mental and Emotional are all connected, Protective Offense touches on all of them.

No one site or program can comprehensively cover every need, so in the RESOURCES section you will find links to carefully vetted sites for Women, Parents and Instructors, and even for Seniors and those with Physical Disabilities.


We have become domesticated. And that’s fine, but the recent burgeoning of  yoga and outdoorsmanship  tell us that we’re missing something – a part of us that is there and active and necessary. Sometimes we allow the illusion of civilization to cloud our eyes. We forget we are still animals, reactionary and emotionally driven.

We still live in a wilderness, it’s just a concrete wilderness.

We’ve forgotten about a lot of the resources we already have. We’ve lost some connection to our instincts. Hopefully we’ve only misplaced it. As part of this civilizing process, we put way too much responsibility on others for our safety and decision-making. Police, lawyers and doctors can all do their jobs better if we do our part.

You may be thinking in terms of physical answers to primal fears about being injured or killed or about something happening to someone you love. Not knowing what to do about something big worries us. The Protective Offense site and programs are designed to provide resources so you can find answers to at least some of your most urgent or worrisome questions.

The physical stuff is often the first thought, but a lot of you may have questions about social issues as well. Questions about being bullied by your boss or your boyfriend or by some loud person who wants your parking spot. The things that happen every day. These are things that make us feel demeaned, insecure, unsafe, disregarded, frustrated… small.

Again, many people think the answers to self defense are mainly physical. If I were strong enough, if I were skilled enough I wouldn’t have to worry or put up with various crap.

Well, dealing with crap is part of life and dealing with it physically is rarely the best way. Since women are rarely stronger than men, we’d better have lot’s of other resources to draw on. And we do. Everyone does. We just need to hone them.


Martial arts have been a staple in my life since I was fourteen years old. But even through my passion for the art and skill of it all, I saw deeply embedded flaws in the training that kept women from absorbing truly useful knowledge. When I began to create Protective Offense, my original intent was actually to revamp the physical aspects of self defense for women. Instead I found that by reverse engineering the worst scenarios, not getting into trouble in the first place was by far the best option. So Protective Offense was born as something beyond self defense. A continuum of sorts that starts before trouble happens and progresses to physical answers only in the event that is the final option for survival.

Case in Point:

One of the most significant martial styles I studied was Kali, a Filipino tribal art that specializes in martial science, survival skills and edged weapons. During outings we played with dartboard darts, Tasers, stun guns and pepper spray, and trained sometimes for three or four days on little-to-no sleep. Sometimes a group of elite military personnel would show up to play since my instructors were world-class edged weapons experts. They began coming more often and I was able to see into a world few women ever do. I had just received my first certification to train military and law enforcement personnel, when I became pregnant.

I was chronically nauseated and at the end of my second trimester I developed an inguinal hernia that required surgery. The gauntlet continued with several other random illnesses that took months to recover from. But, pregnancy brought revelation. Sleep deprived, weak from months of illness and entirely distracted by my complete and unremitting responsibility to this fragile, new creature, I searched my databanks. When had classes ever covered running away from danger with a stroller in tow or fighting off a determined mugger with a baby in a sling? What were the answers to any number of extremely disturbing scenarios? I was shocked that I had dedicated my life to the art and instruction of physical self-defense and had missed such crucial, every-day reference points. Didn’t lots of people have kids? Injuries? Extenuating circumstances? I reprimanded myself for my trendiness. Everyone wants to train super heroes, it’s sexy, it looks good on a resume, but someone had to be in the trenches, figuring out how to beat the astronomical odds against an exhausted, overwhelmed new mom.

Thus began the quest for more answers.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead


As you go through this site and learn more about Protective Offense, please consider passing the knowledge on, especially to other women. Men are also at risk for physical abuse in this world, but women are at a special disadvantage due to small size and to often overwhelming political, cultural and financial disadvantages.

Around the world Mothers tend to be the primary educators of children, especially girls who almost universally have fewer options than boys. It would be wonderful if the concepts of Protective Offense became common knowledge, and girls grew up with this information rather than finding out the hard way what works and what doesn’t.

Hopefully Protective Offense will become a trend and there will be courses in high school and college so kids can ask questions about crime and safety and gangs and what to do and say and how to talk to the police if it turns out their friends are into something they didn’t know about and they get picked up for it. Real information, intelligent, actionable information, not just preaching and finger pointing.

We can do a better job of preparing our sons and daughters for life and its various dangers without preaching. The most powerful teacher is emulation.

ARIA: “I don’t feel like fighting today.”

SWORDMASTER: “You are troubled, good. Trouble is the perfect time to train.
When you are dancing in the meadow, this is not when fighting happens.



  • Self defense is treated as a mainly physical endeavor – meaning mostly kicking and punching, which leaves out quite a bit of important information.
  • Martial arts – the origin of self defense techniques – were mostly created by men out of ancient war arts often using weapons and horseback and handed down, mostly unchanged over generations. So many self defense arts have failed to evolve with the times and were never actually created to address the things we use them for now. They’ve been retrofitted to suit the needs of modern women when they were built for something entirely different.
  • Modern self defense classes also tend to favor altercations between people of about the same size and strength. Fair fights! Right?
  • 99 percent of the time self defense classes deal with people who are facing each other, rather than one blindsiding the other or using charm to position themselves for the crime. Some of the other options. Not how things really happen.
  • Today’s self defense seems to be disconnected from everyday realities like kids and strollers, overwork, physical handicaps, lack-of-sleep, age, illness, depression, pregnancy. Life!
  • Currently self defense is practiced by people in comfortable clothing on smooth floors. No obstacles. No furniture, no cars. No wind, rain, darkness. Except in rare, usually pretty hard core classes that use things called training modifiers to test your skills in low light conditions and other more realistic situations. But those are very specific classes and they’re not usually inflicted on the general population. They’re reserved for military and law enforcement. But you can seek them out if you’re interested.
  • Due to the popularity of stunt-heavy Hollywood movies and sports martial arts, we often see a lot of cool things I call Finesse Techniques in self defense classes that are more acrobatic than practical.
  • Self defense is also, often unhealthy for our bodies which is really, if you think about it, in direct conflict with safety since bad health and injury put us more at risk than most other things.
  • Self defense is often more about following a leader than expanding our own minds. And nothing could be safer than expanding your mind and seeing and understanding more. So if you ever find yourself in a martial arts class – or a relationship of any kind – where you are discouraged from thinking and asking questions… Don’t just get annoyed, get out.
  • And perhaps most importantly modern self defense is primarily concerned with the physical moment of the attack and neglects the Before and After. It doesn’t help us with any of the things we can control that will keep us off the criminal radar or at least diminish our presence there. And also neglects the dangers of the aftermath of an emergency, where we can end up in worse shape, because we made decisions under a great deal of stress.
  • Under the radar, self defense is about Empowerment. That’s a big word right now. We all want to feel empowered to be who we want to be and to take the world by storm. But HOW we do it is important and rarely addressed. Empowerment can get you in trouble if you think it means being assertive out of context. So self defense these days really seems to be about blind or reckless empowerment. The power to stand your ground and demand your say without taking context or others into account. So you yell at the person you think is stealing your parking place when they never saw you. You might end up in a physical altercation you never needed to get into.

I could go on but you get the jist. So that’s what Self Defense seems to be today. Not that there aren’t some good things about it too. Lot’s of people are better off for having learned a few moves – I’m one of them! But what we just covered are some of the many issues. Self Defense means well, but it needs an update.


  • If self defense is primarily about dealing with the highest levels of violent crimes, then it really needs to be mostly mental since avoidance is always going to preferable to survival or clean up after the fact. Many instructors will talk about self defense being 90 percent mental but that’s not what you get in class.
  • Self defense needs to be based in reality. It needs to take into account the kids, strollers and physical handicaps life is made up of.
  • It needs to instill a healthy form of empowerment so you can be a big dog in spite of your size. You don’t need to bark right away. You can sit back watch and evaluate, then make your decision. This is the essence of true empowerment. Not feeling pressured. Being in control of your own situation and emotions. Self defense should be a place women can draw strength from.
  • And, I also really believe it should be something women can pass on to their children so kids don’t have to learn about dangerous or even just unpredictable circumstances or people as they come into our lives. Imagine a daughter who won’t give a good-looking but predatory guy a second look or who won’t allow peer-pressure to cause her to drink or have sex when she doesn’t want to, or who will never accept a drink from a stranger. So, that’s what we’re looking for.
  • Self defense should give us the means to practice daily in our heads. It should be something we can do every day, because we cant always get to a class, real life gets in the way. In other words it should be scenario-based so it isn’t dependent on practicing physical techniques but on mental prowess and an understanding of danger and how it works.
  • Self defense needs to cover attacks the way they are most often perpetrated against women or whomever the class is meant to address. Men, women and children are attacked in different ways under different circumstances.
  • Self defense needs to be about anxiety mitigation since worry and anxiety make us more susceptible to crime, not less. Self defense needs to help us name our worries and fears, put them into context and then remove them from our daily plate. This also makes real dangers easier to identify when the worry noise isn’t so loud.
  • Self defense needs to put Preparation in an exulted position as part of a daily routine. Preparation for the day, contingency plans, CPR training, etc. should be part of basic knowledge.
  • As a series of answers to the question of violent crime, self defense should really train and utilize mental skills above all else. There is an infinite possible crime scenarios. No number of physical techniques you can learn in a lifetime will answer all the variations. Chess players know there are more combinations of chess pieces on a board than atoms in the universe. I love that! So there is no closed set of options toward winning at chess. It’s an ever changing game of strategy that requires constant adaptation. And, life is even more complex. So you really have to learn to think and see.

So this concept of self defense gives us a 360 degree view of how to deal with adversity in general. And, adversity and how we deal with it is a big part of life. By seeing things from the other persons point of view, reading their body language, giving them a face-saving exit before they explode. etc. These tools can save your life but they can also earn you a raise.

Fighting skills are a part of self defense that only need to come into play when all else fails.

In a nutshell, self defense should be a series of life skills that teach us to see things before they go wrong and to deal with them in the best possible way when they do. It should be about minimizing negative consequences in life in general, whether at work or in an emergency. It should be about prevention, deterrence, good decision making, effective problem solving and stress mitigation.


The original name was Devi Protective Offense. I shortened it to just Protective Offense, a term I came up with while desperately looking for a better one than self defense.

Abridged Excerpt From Wikipedia:

Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism. Devī (Devanagari: देवी) is the Sanskrit root-word of Divine. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine and also with Durga and Kali…. Devi is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess.

I really connected with the mythology of the Hindu super goddess, Devi and her connection to the martial art Kali. Kali is another name or aspect of Devi – she is the demon slayer – the Buffy The Vampire Slayer of the Hindu goddesses. Kali is the Hindu Goddess of time, death and renewal and also the name of a group of martial arts from the Philippines and Indonesia, that I studied.

That’s the story behind the eight-armed lady in the logo. I was pregnant at the time I came up will all this and put the baby in her arms to signify the family we all protect.

Here are some articles, one from the Smithsonian and of course the full Wikipedia page on the goddess Devi, in case you’re interested. If the Smithsonian link goes away, they took it down, sorry.