Prof. Amy Cuddy, of the Harvard Business School, gave a talk at the University of Washington last night.  Alas, I was not able to attend.  Those of you who have taken my Self-Defense 101 classes know how her work on body language, perception, and self-perception can contribute greatly to your personal safety.

That’s because every attacker needs a target and an opportunity.  Dr. Cuddy’s work on body language is relevant to your personal safety because you can learn how to make yourself less likely to be targeted.

Even if you, like myself, did not attend Dr. Cuddy’s lecture, you can still benefit from her knowledge.  She has readily-accessible media, including:

  • a TED Talk
  • a Vimeo video (this is the one that’s required viewing for my 101 students), and
  • this interview from yesterday with Marcie Sillman at KUOW-FM’s studio.

There’s a few more short ones online, so take a look around and be prepared to be informed and fascinated!

Late yesterday afternoon I got a call from Gary Horcher, a TV reporter for KIRO 7.  He was looking for a self-defense expert to talk about safety for women runners.  Those of you living in Seattle probably have heard about the rash of assaults on women out running.  About a half dozen or so in the last couple of months. So I met with him and his camera man, we taped a short interview, then they filmed a little of that evening’s class. Thanks to all my students who tolerated it, and to their credit Gary and camera did a really good job at being relatively unobtrusive.

So check out the story at

All my five week Self-Defense 101 classes for this winter have already commenced, but I do have another that will start March 22, a couple of one-day seminars on February 13 and March 20, a Teen Girls Only class on February 27, and a Self-Defense Weekend Workshop beginning Friday March 11.
Today’s news resurrects a two decade-old sore, and NPR’s Nina Totenberg called this incident “stranger than fiction.”

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, confirmed that yes she did leave a message on Anita Hill’s answering machine. In that message she asked Ms. Hill to consider offering an apology and full explanation for her testimony during Justice Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991. In a subsequent statement to CNN, Ms. Thomas purported that her message was intended to offer an olive branch, and no offense was intended.

Ms. Hill has reported that no apology will be offered any time soon.

Read this CNN article for the backstory and current update.

When you offer an “olive branch,” the implication is that you want to make peace. If you want to make peace, there’s been some conflict that you wish to resolve or at least mitigate. We can call that process “de-escalation.”
Now there are several general principles of de-escalation. One is that you do not insist that the other person is wrong. That would not serve to mitigate conflict, would it? In fact, it usually pisses the other party off. So much for striving for peace.
So when Ms. Thomas then asked for an apology, she was not really offering an olive branch. Granted, and I’m going out on a limb here, it looks like Ms. Thomas believes that an injustice was done. Maybe she is looking for redress. Frankly, history may remember Justice Thomas more for Anita Hill’s testimony than for any scholarly and enlightened opinions he’s written from the bench, and maybe she’s feeling aggrieved about it. Maybe she’s fishing for political points (Ms. Thomas is the founder of Liberty Central, a conservative nonprofit lobbying group linked with the tea party).
Whatever her reasoning, she should at least honestly name what she’s doing as confrontation. (In my 5 week self-defense course we go over these, and other verbal skills, in lesson 4.) Even though it’s almost Halloween, this is not the time (and it is NEVER the time) to disguise a a wolf in an olive branch’s clothing.