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Beyond Self Defense: How to Say No, Set Boundaries, and Reclaim Your Agency--An empowering guide to safety, risk assessment, and personal protection
Michelle Shihan, CMA
North Atlantic Books / Softcover / Mar 2024
9781623179984 (ISBN-10: 162317998X)
Communication / Sport & Exercise Psychology
price: $24.95
240 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

A feminist-forward guide to setting boundaries, assessing safety, and defusing violence by a six-time karate world champion—tools and skills to build confidence, fight back, and live life on your own terms.

Disclaimer: this is not your average self-defense book. As educator, martial artist, movement analyst, somatic therapist, and rape crisis advocate Shihan Michelle explains, “Self-defense doesn’t work to prevent assault; it’s too late, you’re in a fight.” Instead, Michelle champions self-offense, a preventative personal protection strategy invested in defusing trouble before violence becomes necessary.

Beyond Self-Defense empowers you to prevent and de-escalate violence without resorting to physical contact. Including personal stories, interactive practices, and reflective prompts, this practical, accessible, and timely handbook teaches you how to craft your own unique protection protocols. Topics include how to:

• Use your body weight to fend off attacks
• Recognize the emotional triggers of others before they escalate
• Unlearn common biases about safety and vulnerability
• Use space and time to get the upper hand and control situations before they become unsafe
• Challenge patriarchal social standards and claim your voice—and your space

The founder and lead instructor of Self Offense Services, Michelle is a sixth degree black belt in Full Contact karate who gives workshops in assault prevention, boundaries, listening, de-escalation, and bullying prevention.


"In my forty years of martial art experience, I have taken and taught countless self-defense courses. Shihan Michelle's Self Offense program is by far the best I've ever experienced. Its comprehensive and practical approach makes it very accessible for people from all walks of life no matter what their experience level. Plain and simple the woman knows what she's doing. Listen to her! (And buy this book!)"
—SHIHAN GENE DUNN, founder of Gene Dunn's Shotokan Karate and Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; 6th Dan, Shotokan; 4th Dan, Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu; Shodan Judo; author; and artist

"Shihan Michelle has a passion for helping people make positive changes.... She is offering suggestions about how to be safe in interactions with others, through embracing one's own power and controlling one's own awareness and actions, and that is the basis for freedom.... Read her words and understand that the practical and effective steps she describes are not only solid self-defense advice, but also a way to change yourself for the better, offered with love and compassion."
—SHIHAN MARIA VAN DESSEL, 6th Dan and Chief Instructor of Eizan Ryu Jiu Jitsu and 4th Dan, World Oyama Karate

"Shihan Michelle enlists her unique experience, knowledge, and insights to offer simple and practical tools to navigate this complicated modern world. Beyond Self-Defense is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt that twinge of fear and uncertainty while riding a subway car late at night, or trying to size up a stranger or even a would-be friend."
—GREG KOTIS, Tony Award–winning author, playwright, and lyricist

"A groundbreaking approach to personal protection that transcends traditional self-defense techniques. Drawing from her extensive experience, Shihan Michelle teaches readers how to not only protect themselves but also serve as protectors of their communities.... This book is an essential guide for anyone looking to be responsible about their personal safety."
—MIKE LESSER, New York City parole officer and senior law enforcement professional

"In my professional experience in law enforcement, I have seen the positive impact of self-defense training in violent crime scenarios. In this book you will find stories that engage you and insights that will transform your everyday life. I fully endorse Michelle's book as a valuable training tool that offers practical, not just theoretical, advice for anyone eager to become more alert, aware, and self-protected."
—SIMA RADUT BURGESS, special investigation unit officer and former Secret Service agent

"In Beyond Self-Defense, Shihan Michelle uses her lifetime of karate and movement analysis practices to offer nuanced and necessary approaches to preventing the conditions under which assault occurs.... I couldn't stop reading and I hope every young person—every person—I know will read it too!"
—AYNSLEY VANDENBROUCKE LABAN, certified movement analyst, and core faculty at Princeton University program in dance

"Such accessible writing, with a lovely personal touch—very relatable examples and 'real life' possibilities. The concept of Self Offense, without offensiveness, is fresh and attainable. This book is, in itself, a kata."
—PRUDENCE GLASS, activist, social worker, writer, and former series producer at PBS's American Masters

"Instead of playing defense, play offense. This book will teach you everything you need to know about taking the initiative and winning the day."
—SILENN THOMAS, producer of 300 and The Spiderwick Chronicles

About the Author:

SHIHAN MICHELLE is the founder of Karate-Do Wa Ken in NYC, and of Self Offense Services, a personal protection company that leads workshops in assault prevention, boundaries, listening, and de-escalation. Self Offense was created in 2003, after Michelle trained as a rape crisis advocate for Saint Vincent’s Hospital, where she worked with sexual assault survivors of all genders and sexual identities.

Michelle is a Laban certified movement analyst and registered movement pattern analyst. She holds a sixth-degree black belt in Karate and second-degree black belt in Iaido (Japanese sword), and has taught special workshops in traditional Okinawan weapons in the United States and in Germany. For nearly a decade, Michelle was a competitive fighter, and she holds two world and four north american titles in full contact fighting.

Michelle presented the Tedx talk Ending Sexual Assault: The Best Defense is a Good Offense in December, 2021. Follow Self Offense on Instagram @self_offense and on Tik Tok @selfoffense.

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