I was approached not long ago about the possibility of starting a self defense class at Keller Williams, mainly for women. The reason, I was told, is that too many women are (sometimes – not always) naive to their surroundings and the people therein.

Ok, so let me back up a little bit.

Karate - means open hand That’s not me. It’s just a cool Kung Fu pose.

So a little about my background in Karate, or, the Martial Arts: It all started a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…no it didn’t. It actually started at Churchill High School when I was 11. I started taking traditional Karate; better known as Tae Kwon Do (the way of the foot). Now, I didn’t care anything about how the martial arts evolved, or the art of what I was doing. I wanted to learn how to kick people. I was an angry young man. I mean, my last name is Curlee. And given the fact that my hair was actually curly, you can only imagine.

Anyway, I took Tae Kwon Do for about a year. I got pretty good at it. However, when I tried to use it on the street it just didn’t work. Trying to kick someone in the face when they are rushing at you is a hard thing to pull off. And considering that Tae Kwon Do was started in order to fight opponents who were on horses, it wasn’t very practical.

So I left the Tae Kwon Do program I was in and started looking at other martial art forms. When I was 13 years old I found Judo. I liked Judo. It was really intense. You grabbed people and threw them to the ground, locked them into certain positions, and choked them or broke their bones. Pretty neat! But, after I had been training for awhile and had become pretty darn good, I took this to the streets where things really matter. Let me tell you, trying to grab someone to throw them while they are punching you in the face isn’t really a lot of fun. It is, in fact, very discouraging.

It’s not that Tae Kwon Do and Judo aren’t or cannot be effective. But unless you are just unbelievably and uniquely skilled in your ability to perceive an attack and circumvent it, these forms of martial arts aren’t practical. So I continued my search.

When I was 22 I found a Kung Fu called Da Phei Lung. Now, considering that Kung Fu means “time and effort,” I should have known that I would get bored. The only thing that kept me in this form of the martial arts for over a year was the instructor. He was incredible. He truly understood what it meant to have to fight on the street. And so he tailored this form of Kung Fu to be practical. I loved that. He also fought twice a week. We put on the gloves and “played,” as he liked to call it. And while I was at this school I really did learn a lot. Also, when I took this form on the street – it worked.

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting... But still, my desire to learn something even more quick and destructive overwhelmed me. Needless to say I was very different back then. 🙂

At 24 I found Kenpo Karate. Kenpo is a form of Kung Fu as well. But it’s founder, Ed Parker, was incredibly aware of the need for something totally practical for men and women who had to defend themselves on the street. So he customized the moves to be workable to any size or gender. And when I found Kenpo I fell in love. I excelled at Kenpo quickly. My instructor was a true fighter. We fought twice a week. We put our skills on the line. And no, this was not point sparring. We put on gloves and a mouthpiece and fought.

But the journey doesn’t end here. You see, I was all too aware that fights don’t normally stay standing up. Having been in…well, a lot of fights, I knew that probably more than 90% of them end up on the ground. And so my instructor and I began to look at fighting forms that catered to this. Eventually we became convinced that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was the superior ground fighting form.

Ground \'em and Pound \'em There was a world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor in Dallas named Carlos Machado. He was cousins with the Gracie’s and grew up his entire life training Jiu-Jitsu. So we figured there was no better person to train with than him. So that’s what I did. Eventually I became a high rank in this form as well. I incorporated this into the Kenpo, and eventually was what was known as an MMA fighter (Mixed Martial Arts). I had a team of guys. We fought all over Texas.

So between the traditional Karate (black belt), Judo (brown belt), traditional Ju-Jitsu (black belt), Kung Fu (low rank), Kenpo (black belt), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (blue belt), and Western boxing, I have a pretty good idea of how to defend myself. Added to this is my experience of taking these things to the actual street – like an idiot.

All of this brings me back to the impetus behind my blog post – women’s self defense. Is it important? How would this work? What would the class be like? Can a woman really learn how to defend herself on the street? These are just some of the questions I’m going to tackle. They are critically important.

Then, after that, we will talk about doing something like this at Keller Williams.

Have a great weekend,

Dustin Curlee


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