Dillon 2017 Women’s Symposium

three rivers defense

2017 Women’s Symposium in Dillon – Self-Defense Workshop

I’m looking forward to the second annual Dillon Women’s Symposium presented by the Women’s Resource Center. 

Where: LDS Church in Dillon

When:  September 23, 2017 (The Symposium starts at 8:00am)

I will facilitate two workshops, one from  9:30am – 10:15am; the next one from 10:30am- 11:15am.

What: The workshops will focus on releasing yourself from being grabbed, held, or otherwise restrained.

The greatest danger to women is not strangers in dark alleys but people we know. Betraying trust, these aggressors often manipulate and control their intended targets mentally and emotionally. Self-defense against such tactics ideally begins on mental and emotional levels. But sometimes we need physical skills. When attackers use physical force, their assaults often start with grabs and holds. In my Dillon workshops you will learn reality-based, practical skills to release yourself from such grabs and holds, and if necessary, to counter-attack so that you can escape to safety. If time allows, we’ll also address defenses against strangulation attempts.

Who: Anyone attending the Dillon Women’s Symposium

Cost: The fee for the entire symposium is $20 per person or $30 for two friends

Symposium Schedule of Events:

8:00 Registration begins

8:30 Group Mindfulness Exercise

8:45 Healthy Breakfast w/ Speaker

9:30 Breakout Session #1 (Self-Defense as well as other sessions)

10:15 Break

10:30 Breakout Session #2 (Self-Defense as well as other sessions)

11:15 Break

11:30 Breakout Session #3

12:15 Break

12:30 Lunch w/ Speaker

1:45 Raffle & Wrap-up

2:00 Close of Event

Boundary Testing and Criminal Interviews

3 rivers defense

Boundary Setting

Predators need proximity to attack their victims. They generally gain proximity through two basic methods: surprise and ambush or charm. Using their charm and manipulation, predators often test and then violate boundaries.

By definition, every criminal attack is a boundary violation. Sexual assault, stalking, rape, intimidation, and other attacks are all boundary violations. We have physical boundaries. We also have mental and emotional comfort zones.

Not every boundary violation is a crime, but criminal attacks often start with gradually increasing boundary violations. Aggressors often test potential victims to find out whether and how they set, enforce, and protect their boundaries and where they are vulnerable.

In addition to, or combined with, boundary testing criminals often employ manipulation and control techniques based on the target’s personality traits such as kindness, credulity, eagerness to please, or cravings for acceptance. When criminals test a potential victim’s boundaries verbally, we sometimes call this process criminal interviewing. This is one interview that you want to fail.

Self-defense begins with risk awareness, reduction, recognition, and avoidance. Effective risk management includes setting, protecting, and enforcing your boundaries.

Boundary setting isn’t only important for violence prevention against criminal predators. Self-care in every day life also includes setting and enforcing healthy boundaries at home, at work, with friends, and with acquaintances throughout your day.

My next post will make some suggestions for recognizing boundary violations that may begin with subtle encroachments, at times disguised as flattery and admiration.

“Battles are won or lost before they are fought.” Sun Tzu


Battles are lost or won by preparation. This is as true for sports like dragon boat racing, a sport I enjoy and compete in, as it is for self-defense. We can increase our chances by daily training on a mental and physical level and by making daily choices that further our goals, whether the goal is winning a competition or staying safe.

Here are three attributes of effective preparation:

  • Develop a positive mental attitude and enjoy mental training.
  • Hone your physical skill sets through realistic, hard physical training.
  • Adopt a daily routine of making conscious choices.

Mental training is key for self-defense. As in sport competitions, mental preparation is key for success in self-protection. Self-defense should start long before any physical action. Personal safety management, de-escalation, risk awareness, risk reduction, and risk avoidance are a huge part of self-defense. This is especially true for anyone who doesn’t boast 250 pounds of lean muscle and solid fighting skills honed in long-term training.

Mental training starts with developing and nurturing a positive attitude towards yourself and your abilities. It helps to like and to value yourself in order to want to protect yourself. As in sports competitions, in self-defense it helps to believe in yourself. Of course, such beliefs should be based on competence and training. Delusion and self-deception about one’s abilities can be dangerous.

My mental self-defense training includes reminding myself regularly to be aware of myself and of my environment. I ask myself periodically, “How do I feel? What do I sense? Where am I? What am I doing? What should I pay attention to right now?” This type of metal training has probably increased my safety more than my time in the gym. For instance, it has kept me safe numerous times when I was driving and when my thoughts drifted off to things other than the traffic and the road conditions around me.

Avoidance is Best. Avoiding violence is more effective self-protection than any other self-defense. It protects you not only from physical and emotional injuries and doctor and therapy bills, but also from potential civil lawsuits and the inevitable legal fees, even if you were totally justified and were never prosecuted criminally. While you may consider legal prosecution for excessive force a remote risk, especially if you are a woman, you still need to consider it as a potential risk of any physical counter-attack.

Physical training needs to be realistic. Physical attacks happen when avoidance has failed. Physical attacks are often brutal, fast, and continuous. Vicious close-up violence does damage. It hurts, and without proper preparation, and sometimes even with it, it can debilitate you before you have any chance to counter it. A physical attack is nothing like a sparring match in a boxing ring or a martial arts octagon . It’s not a fight between two matched competitors. Any person who is being attacked, especially people who are smaller and have less mass than their attacker, need to counter-attack immediately, ferociously, and on proper targets. If you have to fight for your life, you may have a better chance if you fight “dirty.” Targets and techniques that are illegal in sports are often essential when you need to counter-attack. Training for self-defense needs to be based on the realities of criminal attacks, not the niceties of sports competitions.

It helps to be able to see valuable targets like eyes, throat, groin, knees, or ankles. You’ll want to train how to use your natural weapons effectively and how to inflict incapacitating damage to these targets. You should also practice using improvised weapons. A rock or an iron bar can do more damage than your hammer-fist alone.

When your attacker outweighs you by 100 pounds, you may benefit from deception, distraction, and disruption. You’ll  want to know how to shut down or at least seriously impair, systems like sight,  how to break a knee joint or damage a wrist or ankle. But “knowing” isn’t enough; you’ll need to be able to dish out violence without hesitation and with full commitment. Not everyone is able to switch instantly from their civilized mindset to an a-social attacker mode necessary to shut down a threat. Think about what it would take for you to make that switch. And thinking about it isn’t enough. At the very least, you may want to do some training on a body opponent bag.

Physical training needs to be realistic. Training from positions of disadvantage and a focus on good body mechanics and on ending any attack as quickly as possible are important elements of such training.

Make deliberate choices regarding your safety. The choices we make every day increase or decrease our risks and our chances of remaining safe, not just from criminal attackers. Sometimes we make conscious choices to take risks, for example when we go white water rafting at extreme water levels, or when we travel or work in geographic areas with a high risk of terrorism, crime, or other violence.

Sometimes, people take other risks, like remaining with a violent partner. For some people, these decisions aren’t real choices due to economic, social, familial, legal, or other factors.

But the more we can choose deliberately, the more we can consciously weigh the risks and benefits of our choices, the more effectively we can manage our safety risks.

It’s important to have fun, and sometimes that means making a conscious choice to “live dangerously.” But at the very least, make these choices fully aware of what you are risking and gaining.


Flip at Triple Hole

Flip at Triple Hole

Happy 4th of July – Free class on July 12

3 rivers defense

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

Next week, we’ll have a free return-and-practice self-defense session.

The training will take place at our studio at 612 W Griffin in Bozeman on Wednesday, July 12th from 7:00pm –8:30pm. Everyone who has trained with us in the past is invited. You are also welcome to bring a friend.

Come and join us, refresh your skills, and connect with former training partners. To sign up, please email Brigitte at 3riverstkd@gmail.com by Monday, July 10th.

Three Rivers Defense will be back in Montana in July

Three Rivers Defense Gym

After a month in Germany and then a brief dragon boat race excursion to Canada, Brigitte will be back in Montana in July.

Three Rivers Defense self-defense training in Montana will resume in July.

We’ll also have a free return-and-practice self-defense session on the second Wednesday  in July (7-12-2017)  from 7:00 until 8:30pm. Everyone who has trained with us in the past is invited. You are also welcome to bring a friend.

Come and join us, refresh your skills, and connect with former training partners. To sign up, email Brigitte at 3riverstkd@gmail.com.


March Dragon Boat Erg Training


Hi Dragon boaters,

During the rest of March, you are welcome to use the Erg at the gym whenever it’s convenient for you. Please call Brigitte or Andy to make sure one of us is at the gym.

Dragon Boat season is right around the corner!  See you soon on the EGRA or at Hyalite!


International Women’s Day


March 8 is International Women’s Day.

We celebrate this day with a free return-and-practice session for any of our women trainees.

Call us to schedule your free return-and-practice session for you or your group during the month of March.



January 30, 2017 Self-Defense Training

Three Rivers Defense Gym

We are looking forward to training with Erin, April, and their friends on Monday, January 30th, 2017.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Where is the Three Rivers Defense studio at?  We are located at 612 W Griffin, Unit C, in Bozeman. We are in the new Great Northern Commercial Condos. Our is the condo closest to Griffin when you turn into the parking lot. You’ll see a large Outa Ware sign, and a smaller one in the door for Three Rivers Defense. See the photo of the studio below.

When should I arrive? If you haven’t returned your registration papers, or need to change into workout clothes, please arrive between 5:30 and 5:45pm so that we can get all of the paperwork out of the way and start training at 6pm.

What should I bring? Bring a water-bottle and clean gym shoes, or go barefoot. We train on a mat-covered floor. Bring wraps if you have some. We have Mexican wraps at the gym.

What should I wear? Wear comfortable clothes. You can wear workout clothes but you don’t have to. You may be most comfortable in workout clothes. But we’ll do self-defense training, and for self-defense you generally can’t choose what clothes you are wearing. So any clothing is fine.

For another questions, feel free to call Brigitte at 406.580.5190.

See  you Monday evening!

Three Rivers Defense at 612 W Griffin

Self-defense at 2017 Montana Farmers Women’s Conference

3 rivers defense

The Montana Farmers Union Women’s Conference will take place on February 10 -12, 2017 at Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa

Brigitte Schulze and Three Rivers Defense will do a self-defense workshop on how to free yourself from grabs and holds.

Attacks against women often start with attempts to restrain them – holding, grabbing, or pulling them. We’ll learn how to break free quickly, and how to counter- attack as necessary to escape to safety.

We are looking forward to training with the women of the Montana Farmers Union and everyone else who joins us for some training, soaking at Chico, and inspiration for cultivating our potential. The conference is open to anyone.

Join us! Everyone is welcome!


NYC Police

Denial of violence is a powerful psychological defense mechanism, easing anxiety and lulling people into believing they live safe, idyllic lives. They don’t want to think about the possibility of violence. Negating the possibility of violence makes them feel more secure and comfortable. They often proclaim to be strictly non-violent, abhorring violence as universally bad. They like to say that violence never solved any problem. But denial comes at a price because it dulls our awareness and our risk management abilities.

Denial also works in other ways when people deny what real violence is.

Some people confuse self-defense with martial arts or training drills in the safety of their gym or dojo. Self-defense against a criminal attack is nothing like sparring in the dojo. Even boxing matches and mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, and other sanctioned fights have strict rules, aimed at preventing severe injuries and civil and criminal liability. For example, there are illegal targets, like the eyes; illegal weapons, like eye gouges; and illegal weapon/target combinations, like stomping a fallen opponent on the ground. Fighters are matched up by experience, weight, and gender. They begin and end fighting with the bell. Referees make sure that the fighters spar according to the rules, and time limits determine the length of each round. Ambulances stand by in case anything goes wrong. Contenders consent to mutual fights at agreed upon times, dates, and locations. They study their opponent and train for the fight to be in the best possible shape on fight night.

Predatory criminal attackers on the other hand generally choose their victims based on the victims’ perceived vulnerability, surprise, and lack of preparation. Attackers rely on their own superior strength, size, and power. They choose the time and the location of the attack, preferably isolated places with easy access and escape for the attacker, and no witnesses. The environment may be a dirty hallway or a bathroom stall, not a comfortable training gym with clean, padded floors and water-filled ergonomic heavy bags. Instead, the ground may be asphalt or cement, littered with broken glass. The attacker may reek of sweat or alcohol, and have oozing blisters.

In an ambush, you may be hit first. You may be injured, in pain, and blinded by blood or tears, while trying to recover and defend and counter-attack. Real attacks cause stress reactions, like freezing, tunnel vision, and auditory exclusion. You may experience decreased pain, increased strength and speed, but also loss of fine motor control, and of the ability to think, plan, and act strategically.

The more you deny the realities of violence, the greater the costs you will pay in a real ambush by a predator. In situations where you have a chance to think and choose a course of action, for example in imminent partner assaults, you also need to weigh potential legal consequences of exceeding force justified under the circumstances. This is especially true in altercations that are more appropriately termed fights rather than attacks, such as bar quarrels. When you have a chance to de-escalate or walk away, any violence you use may ultimately be considered assault, or aggravated assault or even attempted homicide if you for example cause internal injury.

Think about denial and be honest with yourself. Do you have the attitude that you live in a safe community and that your chances of encountering violence are slim to non-existent? Do you have a realistic appreciation of your risk profile and of your ability to de-escalate or defend against and neutralize threats? Do you fantasize about counter-attacking physically, putting your attacker in the hospital with hardly a scratch to yourself, and being welcomed by the community as a local hero? Do you have illusions about your ability to flip the switch from civilized person who usually relies on persuasion, negotiation, or appeasement to asocial fighter ready to seriously injure or kill another human being?

Being mindful requires you to be as realistic about your risks and as honest about yourself, your capabilities, and your attitudes, including your hang-ups and your fantasies, as possible. Watch some videos of attacks from Closed Circuit TV cameras to see how fast and brutal some attacks are.[1] Talk with some emergency room nurses or doctors to learn more about the type of injuries they encounter. Violence can be bloody, painful, debilitating, and expensive. You may need to pay bills for doctors, hospitals, physical and other therapy, as well as potentially staggering legal bills if you are charged or sued in a civil law suit. You may lose income. In addition, you may suffer emotionally and mentally as a result of having been attacked or having injured or killed someone in self-defense. For all of theses reasons, the best defense is avoidance whenever that is a safe option.

Sometimes, unfortunately, avoidance is no longer a safe option.

When you need to fight back to save your life, it helps to have basic skills in using the tools of violence for your protection.

[1] See for example, nothingtoxic.com