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Providing my local community classes on self defense



My background includes certifications in what I call common defense that does not require years of training but does requires that my everyday students (I have professionals in military and police students). Two years ago I went under the knife to transition and after 12 plus years of teaching I put a pause on teaching.

Over the past decade or so I've read about people in the LGBT community murders, bullied and so on. This gave rise to me seeking out in the past few months a place to teach that would be okay with the establishment allowing me to teach.

Friday night I was given permission by the most popular LGBT club (I know some here are from Salem so it's South Side Speakeasy( to use their large back room normally for a card club (poker I believe is the popular choice). I provided my bio to the owner, told him what I would be teaching and the cost. He was very happy with me putting on this class and said it's been a long time coming.

Note that the cost is nominal, more to get the interested to come as I've done free classes before where my assistants and myself noticed differences in commitment between those who paid and those who did not. 

If anyone here is within the Portland/Salem Oregon area feel free to respond to when the dates will be. My first idea is to wait until after most people have finished their vacations and have the class on a Sunday mid-day into the early evening.

Lastly, hopefully others here that are capable of teaching such a class are doing so in their area.


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I think that's really neat, Karen. To be honest I would be reluctant to attend your class because I'd be afraid as I always was of physically fighting, whether for my own protection or what. I well remember fearing the wrestling class in PE that lasted I think 1 or 2 weeks every year. It seemed like it was such a joke for the coach and the rest of the class to witness my quick humiliation. I just wanted it to be all over with.

A problem for me is that I don't really see the "bad" people out there who might harm me. I'm meeting a friend in Anchorage late next week and talked to him last night. He told me that in California he always carry's a pistol. He's licensed, trained, and all that. He says it makes him feel better, and he has a couple of stories over the years which he uses to show its need. (He's not shot anyone or pulled the trigger.)

I get it, I think. But I have no desire to carry a gun, in my car or anywhere. So it's much better to be at least trained in self-defense by someone like you. I'm relocating to Seattle so Salem is kinda far, but who knows, I may sign up for your class one of these days. :-)

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Karen, I have great admiration for your self-defense skills and willingness to share them. It not only benefits your students but the entire lgbtx community by helping to change the stereotype of us as easy targets and make others think twice about trying to bully or hurt us. By the same token, Emma, your friend not just protected himself on those occasions but may have stopped them from going on to victimize others. Bullies rarely pick a fair fight. They choose what they believe is a sure thing and avoid what they consider a risk. They often have a keen sense of others' vulnerability. It is key for everyone to know their capabilities and limitations. For example, carrying a gun can be a life-saver for some, but place others in greater danger. Some can become experts in martial arts, but most are better off with the kind of class Karen offers. Of course, self-defense means not just fending off attackers but learning ways to minimize risk and escape or gain assistance in a bad situation (such as sounding a loud whistle and not getting coerced into a secondary location). Thank you again, Karen.

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To elaborate (thinking about what bluemoon mentioned).

One of the most important things as an instructor to understand is where students are coming from along with what they are willing to do or not do.

With that I refrain from teaching firearms as a self-defense tool for this class but instead focus on

I have lots of experience (including teaching firearms ranging from handguns to shotguns)


I do understand those not willing to participate but at the same time many walked through the doors where I taught with either or physical or mental scars who would tell us they were the type not to take these classes but after an attack that changed everything.

Edited by KarenPayne
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Karen, read a little of your blog and wish I could train with you and had those speedy curves to play on with my own very fast, nimble little car. You seem to excel and test the limits in everything you do by design and with control.  I am in awe of your self-defense skills and teaching experience. That must also help keep you in a state of readiness by demonstrating tactics and responses necessary in times of condition red. The more ingrained or overlearned the better in case of a real-life situation. It is also great that you have the capability to scale way up for students willing and able to go beyond the basics into more advanced self-defenses methods and firearms. I love that you carried forward these skills and interests into your transition and the lgbtx community since they are often gender-typed as masculine, although that is a ridiculous, narrow-minded stereotype. They make you even more attractive as a woman.


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In regards to keeping in a state of readiness, what happens when you are trained and disciplined is readiness is not in the fore front of one’s mind but is now instinctive in nature. I tend to be more in tune with what’s happening around me from “oh, those flowers are pretty” to “that person is acting in such a manner to be on alert”.

Living both genders provides both a unique insight into how people perceive the opposite gender thinking prey, an easy target to “don’t mess with that person”. In my former life I remember when first beginning as an instructor my demeanor to students was for lack of better terms was “don’t mess with him” while countless times people would ask me if I was FBI, CIA etc. LOL. Then in my current life that pretty much never happens which is kind of cool. For instance my manager at work was talking about self-defense to another co-worker and I found a time to inject myself into the chat with a demonstration to show how I would handle the situation they were talking about. I remember his face, never seen me do this before. He is about thirty pounds more then me and several inches taller and boxes. I had him in a position where I could walk him around without any chance to escape using one hand to control him. Months later his boss joined in on a conversation and I asked for someone to volunteer for a similar demonstration, my boss stepped back and pushed his boss forward (lots of giggles came next).

My point is not to say how good I am but instead to prove a point that a female/cross dresser or transgender can have the upper hand on an attacker because the attacker does not see it coming.

Back in the day when I was training rough and tough military types we would train to the point that afterwards there at times were serious black and blue marks, blood and soreness between the legs (if you catch my meaning). The point here is I believe if a student really wants to be prepared they need to go past the clinical classroom setting to become inoculated to a sudden attack. I did my first such class for non-military and afterwards only a third of the students (all females) were a little disappointed that I did not go harder on them (as I did with military types). I told them that you are the minority and would offer another class to up the force-on-force level but sadly the class didn’t get more than eight people while my normal class would be 15 to 20. I’d hear back from the more dedicated students, not many which is good that they actually had to use the skills I taught than they all reported the force on force made a difference. Heck even my daughter told me this too when she had to fend off a frisky men.

When I think of ingrained, that comes with training outside of the classroom. For one year I offered free follow up training once a month to students. Not many took me up on it but month after month the same six or so people showed up and progressed with their skills. Then there was a fortune 500 company who saw value in continual training and contracted me for a year to ensure employees had a set of skills that would possibly save their lives in a violent situation from various confrontations.

Next week, at work where I’m part of the agency I work for we are putting together life like training for “Active shooter”, oh how this will be fun training 1,000 people. The head of security is former SWAT with an open mind which many law enforcement people are not to civilians and transgenders. 

Seems I got a tad long winded here, my apologies.

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