Strategic Living's News & Views

Summer 2012

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Joanne Factor of Strategic LivingDear ,  

Many inhabitants of the Emerald City (that's Seattle) are dismayed by the recent spate of shootings. We can point out that the our fair city's rate of gun violence is in fact low in comparison to other comparably-sized American cities. Reassuring to some, perhaps not so much for those who lost friends and family.

And out trots that perennial argument. Do guns kill, or do people? If Seattle had tighter regulations on gun sales and ownership, could some of these murders have been avoided? Or should more people be allowed to carry guns in more places, to stop the evil-doers in their tracks?

I am no expert on firearm legislation. I do, however, worry about the eagerness of some to bear arms. A couple of years ago, when the media spotlight was on the University District and the emailed Alerts about all reported crimes around campus, some UW students reportedly began carrying guns and organized armed patrols of the community. If their members are much like the spokesperson interviewed on KUOW, I would be more afraid of them than of most muggers. To my ears, this guy came across as just spoiling for an excuse to blaze away.

I do know some people who own guns. They have a healthy respect for firepower, practice regularly, and are very concerned with gun safety. They are not the gun owners I fear.

My concern is that some are so keen to jump to the most lethal form of self-defense, rather than looking first at other prevention measures. There are reports that states with a "Stand Your Ground" law are seeing increases in killings. Rather than resulting in a decrease in crime, these laws may be justifying needless homicide.

As a self-defense teacher, I am occasionally asked about carrying firearms. (Most often, however, the weapon I'm asked about is pepper spray.) What I in turn ask those students is: are you willing to kill someone? Are you willing to go to the firing range and practice on a regular basis? Do you understand that there's an emotional cost to taking life? Do you have the names of a good lawyer and a good therapist? If you are not willing to think long and hard about these questions, you should not be considering carrying a gun.

Sincerely, Joanne

She-Rah!, Super Shero
And the Winner Is . . . 

Congratulations to Shara Bingham Mills, winner of the Seeking Super Sheros contest. Her Shero, She-Rah!, has the powers of mind control and super-vision. She-Rah! spends her life perched on the clouds, looking through the world with her X-Vision. She scans her territory night and day making sure that potential muggers and rapists and murderers are kept at bay. If these evil doers get the idea to do wrong? She changes their mind - and not in a good way. Their brains turn to mush and they are rendered as helpless as infants.

Congratulations to Shara, and thanks to all those who took the time to submit entries!

TED: The Bigger Picture from Death Row

David Dow, who has been an attorney for death row inmates in Texas, talks about how the biographies of about 80% of convicted murderers follow an identical pattern, and how we (as a society) can both decrease homicide and execution rates.

TED Talks will make you smarter. Or at least more thoughtful.
Recipe: Turbo-Charging Tomatoes

This time in Juneuary I am very much wanting summer to finally arrive. I look longingly at tomatoes in stores. Sometimes I buy some. But most are grown more for their ability to ship long distances than for flavor. Even the local heirlooms are less then thrilling right now.

Long, slow heat will concentrate their flavor and sweetness. I take a couple of pints of cherry or grape tomatoes, slice them in half, toss with some salt and pepper and olive oil, and put in the oven at about 250. Stir every so often. Four hours is not too long, 6 would be better. You can add them to other cooked dishes to boost any tomato flavor, or use as a spread.

Happy Birthday, Title IX!

That pioneering piece of legislation giving college girls equal rights to resources for sports on college campuses is turning 40 on June 23rd. It's older than many of its beneficiaries, and because of Title IX there are MANY beneficiaries.

Sports is much more than play -- it teaches lessons of persistence, teamwork, fairness, and cooperation. Even though we too often hear about teams, coaches, and players who seek unearned wins by "gaming" the rules, there are sanctions and penalties and commissions to keep cheaters in line. And sports is one of our main venues to discovering out strongest selves.

In addition to self-defense, I teach traditional karate. I train and teach at Seattle's Feminist Karate Union, and also run programs for children at Thurgood Marshall Elementary and Lowell@LIncoln Elementary. In these schools, parents most often enroll their child in this enrichment program to develop strength, balance, and coordination; increase self-discipline and goal-setting; and learn to focus. Parents in these schools rarely cite self-defense as a motivator.

Yet, in an indirect way, being involved in sports may be crucial to women's self-defense.


Class Schedule
Summer 2012:

Self-Defense 101:
 A five (or more) week course that builds progressive skill and prepares you for life's unexpected (and unwanted) moments.  To register for any of these classes, visit for links to each organization and class registration.

BEGINS TODAY: Five Saturday afternoons,
1:30 - 3:30 pm at Bellevue College, North Campus, June 23 - July 21.

NEW: Five Friday evenings, 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Seattle's International District, July 6 - August 10 (no class July 27). Registration will be through the ASUW's Experimental College.  
Five Monday evenings, 7:00 - 8:50 pm, through Seattle Central Community College.
July 9 - August 6.

Five Tuesday evenings, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, through the UW Women's Center (class location is Bryants Building).  July 31 - August 28.


One-Afternoon Seminars: This short self-defense basic class is offered in Seattle on Sunday July 22 and August 19.   


For Teen Girls Only: Four sessions this summer will be at:   

  • UW Women's Center, Sunday July 8, 2:30 - 5:30 pm 
  • Bellevue College, Tuesday July 17, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
  • North Kirkland Community Center, Saturday August 11, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
  • UW Women's Center, Sunday Aug 12, 1:00 - 4:00 pm 

Or contact me to arrange a custom session for your group.  Visit the Strategic Living Teen Girl classes site for more info.


 KidSafe: August 4 at North Kirkland Community Center 12:30 - 2:00 pm. Phone 425-587-3336 for more info.   


Weekend Workshop through the UW Experimental College will be held Friday June 1, Sat June 2, and Sun June 3. Visit for more info and links to registration.  


Self-defense skills are like CPR, you should review and practice them annually. 

If you've already taken a class and want to keep it fresh, Strategic Living offers a 50% discount on select classes. And, if you refer your friends to a Strategic Living class and they sign up, I will donate $25 to one of three awesome organizations for women and girls. Visit my Paying It Forward page for details.

Do you work with a non-profit or community organization that holds silent Self defense class -  striking practiceauctions? Ask me to donate a gift certificate for a private 1.5 hour seminar.

Do you work with a non-profit or community organization whose staff/volunteers/members/clients would benefit from a safety skills seminar? Visit for information on requesting partly subsidized training sessions. 

Hazelruth A, who works with teen girls in foster care, said this about the session she arranged:

"Strategic Living graciously donated class time to come to last month's event and it was amazing! Joanne did a wonderful job talking about tough issues in a way that was both approachable and fun. The girls had a great time and learned a lot! The donated class allowed the girls we work with to learn self-defense techniques and prevention skills--skills that will help them not only now but into their adult lives. I am incredibly thankful to Strategic Living since without the donated class the girls would not have had this wonderful and empowering opportunity.

"I think it is especially important for young women to have the know-how and the confidence to stand up for themselves in bad situations. The Strategic Living self-defense class helped give the young women in our program the skills and confidence to do just that. "

Contact Information
phone: 206.202.0748

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