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Matmail:

What ever happened to ordinary, basic self-defense training? What to do when an assailant swings a fist at you, jumps on your back, grabs at your lapels. Is such training available for civilians anywhere in San Diego? I would like to be more capable of protecting myself, but I am NOT interested in donning ceremonial temple robes or other costume, seeking cosmic awareness under the control of an enlightened spiritual leader, achieving unity with the mystic forces of the ancients, chanting in unison to bring my aura to a level capable of merging my consciousness with the all-powerful oneness of the cosmos, or attempting to earn a succession of belts, sashes, ribbons, or other paraphernalia.

-- Lyle, San Diego

We get your drift, Grasshopper. And taking a tip from Dickie, I guess you can't be over-prepared if you're ever mugged by a clown. Hate to think of you going down in a hail of ruffles. Kicked in the privates with those huge rubberized shoes. Crumpled on the sidewalk, dazed, pantsless, and soaked with seltzer.

Once upon a time, San Diego had a self-defense school run by ex-San Diego cop Sanford Strong, before he got a $90 haircut and became John Walsh's sidekick on America's Most Wanted. The elves worked in shifts around the clock, wearing their dialing fingers to stubs, but could locate no co-ed or men-only self-defense training that didn't involve a philosophical commitment. Occasional instruction is available for women in how to use a Nordstrom shopping bag or a French-tip manicure to fend off a thug, but I guess guys are supposed to know instinctively how to clock a perp. And even if a guy doesn't know, he wouldn't admit he doesn't know by taking a class. But as I've noted before, the quickest way to find something is to say in print that it doesn't exist. In the meantime, buy some Nikes, join a track club.

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