Imagine a world where everybody grows up learning self-defense just like they do riding a bike, swimming, learning first aid…

Raleigh Hills Self Defense 1


What would it be like for kids to grow up with the absence of fear, knowing that they are safe? Knowing they have a right to be safe, knowing they have the skills to stay safe?


Hi, my name is Goeroe Silvia, I run Tulen Center in SW Pdx. We’ve launched an Indegogo Campaign with the intention of raising $3500 or better for the Tulen Foundation. The Tulen Foundation is a national non-profit 501c set up to make self-defense and empowerment training available for people from all walks of life all across the country. Please donate here!

I think of self-defense training as a basic life skill. Kind of like swimming, first aid and fireMas Zoe and Mas Matt drills. People need to know how to protect themselves from all sorts of people and situations so they can live with confidence. Tulen Center provides free self-defense classes in elementary, middle and high schools in the Southwest Portland and Beaverton neighborhoods. We teach free classes at Rec Centers, Portland State University and wherever and whenever we can! There are costs associated with providing these classes and the Tulen Foundation helps defer them.

In the martial art we train, Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, the first six months to a year of sweeptraining is completely focused on basic and very effective self-defense skills, For people qualify, who want that depth of training but can’t afford it, the Tulen Foundation provides partial scholarships.

A lot of parents want their kids to learn self-defense but live paycheck to paycheck and struggle with the basics, let alone sending their kids to a martial arts school or self-defense workshops. Your gift will go directly toward supporting families so their kids can get these life skills that are so important in the world we live in today.

In the elementary school closest to Tulen Center, 34% of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunches and the Beaverton School District has the highest number of homeless kids in the state. The kids in our neighborhood can benefit from self-defense training and you can help them get it! You can donate now through PayPal or with a debit or credit card. Thanks in advance for your tax-deductable contribution!



Cyberspace Self Defense: Internet and Social Media Dos and Don’ts

As a mom and a self-defense teacher, the concept of keeping our kids safe in the online world has always been interesting but somewhat perplexing. Here are some pointers and resources I have compiled with help from friends, folks who work with kids or with Internet security, and from various organizations. The list is a work in progress. Please add your comments and share this blog so we can spread the word and continue to learn from one another as the conversation continues!

Across the board, advice is to keep talking! Keep the avenues of communication flowing between yourself and your kids. Know what they are up to. Share your concerns openly and honestly and educate them to think twice and make safe and smart choices. Focus on supporting them in their growing independence, guiding them through the rough spots, and make hard and fast rules as needed. And, of course, limit the time they spend online. Encourage their active engagement with real people in face-to-face settings.

Following the list are some links to resources you might find useful, handy or interesting. Phineas and Ferb did a Public Service Announcement about safety online. There’s an NPR piece about teaching kids to fight, and a link to registering for my next Womens’ and Kids’ self-defense classes. You’ll find a link to a program designed for parents and kids as they negotiate the online world together. I hope you find this information useful. Some of these bullet points are posed as suggestions, others as questions you might want to think through together.

  • Internet (iTouch/phone/laptop) allowed only in common areas of the house. Phones plugged in at night in the kitchen.
  • Don’t post your personal info anywhere: address, phone number, where you are going to be, when you are leaving town… Don’t post a photo of your learner’s permit or driver’s license no matter how proud you are of it! If you absolutely have to fill in a form or post some personal information online, clear it with your adults.
  • Lock down the various privacy settings on all social media accounts.
  • What about people you don’t know or your family doesn’t know in the real world? People who want to friend or follow you? Is that OK? (probably not!)
  • Text/Social media gone awry: when kids notice feelings building, feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, teach them to STOP. The tone of text and email can be very easily misunderstood. These misunderstandings can escalate. STOP. Bring in your adult. Ask for help with this. Go in person/face to face and make it right.
  • Parents are friended on FB, follow you on Instagram, see what you’re reading on Tumblr, what you’re responding to on ASK, see who you are interacting with on KIK, etc. Parents have the passwords. If you can’t say it to your parent’s face, don’t post it. Watch for sexually explicit language and hateful language. Be cautious and don’t engage in any give and take that doesn’t feel right. Trust your gut.
  • Don’t blindly trust that who and what people say they are online is TRUE. Creepy people can create online profiles that look perfectly safe. But their intent is to get closer to you, get personal information, get photos of you, worst case scenario, meet up with you. Basic rule of thumb: if you don’t know them in the real world, if they aren’t a friend of your family, don’t friend or follow them, or let them follow you.
  • Images: Instagram, Snapchat, Pintrest, etc. If you can’t show your grandma or your dad, don’t share it. Everything you post online lasts FOREVER! Future employers, mentors, college admissions officers and the law will all be able to see your online life/digital footprint for all time. Think ahead!
  • Take the location services off of your photos so that when you post images, they don’t announce to the world where you are.
  • What about following links or requests to redirect you to another site? …they could lead to viruses at best, or fishing scams or porn sites. Once you get an image in your brain, it is there forever. It can’t be unseen.
  • No sexting. Period.
  • Video chats? With whom? Remember that when you facetime or video chat with someone, there might be someone listening in that you don’t know about. A third party may be in the room. Be sure of your privacy and watch what you say.
  •  Cyberbullying: If you see something hurtful, say something to an adult. Stop the dialogue, don’t engage. Get help right away.
  •  As in all things. Be smart. Make good choices. Think before you hit “send” or “post” or “like”. If you aren’t sure, don’t do it. Ask first. There are Internet predators, human traffickers, perverts and creeps out there. There are so many unknowns in the online world, and so many things that are not in our own control, it’s imperative to have good awareness around all the decisions you make.
  •  Keep up an active offline life! Keep the face-to-face relationships going. Sports, activities, musical instruments, art projects…
  • Take self-defense classes, train martial arts! The physical skills that are learned on the training floor help build confidence. The lessons and strategies we learn about protecting ourselves translate or “generalize” from the floor into our everyday lives.
  • Where kids go online to interact is constantly changing as new Apps, sites and possibilities are developed. Keep engaged with your kids and learn about what they are up to.
  • HOMEWORK: Concretize your rules at home. Take time to make an agreement with one another if you haven’t already. If you already have an agreement, revisit it, keep talking!

A Few Resources:

Blurred Lines

This past Tuesday was one of those days. By the afternoon, if I was a drinker, I would have started early and gone late. However, since I don’t drink, I processed through my thoughts and decided this was a blog-worthy day. A day when three seemingly separate things came together and connected as one, hitting me like a three-ton brick. These pieces of my day were interconnected and interwoven; the lines between them blurred, so to speak.

I was at my martial arts school preparing to teach a women’s self-defense class to some preschool teachers. Checking my email, I saw a request to teach a mother/daughter self-defense class at a local middle school. My heart dropped. One of the 8th grade girls at the school was raped. That means she is THIRTEEN years old. My own kids are in middle school and high school, so of course I thought about them, and of all of their buddies and classmates whom I’ve grown so fond of through the years. I thought about each of the kids who train with me at my martial arts school and their wonderful families.

Rape is devastating. Having to deal with the brutal assault of rape at 13 is forever life changing with far reaching consequences. Imagine what this does to her family. Consider how upsetting this is for the community. What does this say about the world we live in? What does this tell us about the safety of our girls? Simple question: Why is this still happening?

Earlier in the day, my sister-in-law forwarded me some images of campaign buttons criticizing a prominent female politician. The buttons, didn’t comment about her ideology. They weren’t even wise cracks about her policies. Instead, the buttons passed judgment on this woman’s body parts, specifically commenting on her thighs and breasts. This is a smart, well-educated and successful politician whose ideas and politics are being attacked by condemning her body. I felt as if I’d entered a time machine that sent me back to 1973 and Archie Bunker’s “All in the Family”.

When my kids got home from school that same day, my daughter told me about a song that was played in her dance class warm ups. The lyrics to the song, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, offended her, and she wanted to talk through how she would speak up to her teacher about it. She, my son and I discussed this and together, we decided to take the plunge and watch the music video on YouTube. Neither of them had seen it, but heard that it was pretty offensive. Sure enough, the lyrics are degrading to women and the images are disturbing and misogynistic. Watching/listening to something like this with your kids quickly brings the experience to a very personal level. What kind of a man do I want my son to grow up to be? What kind of body image do I want my daughter to have? What types of relationships do I hope my children are able to have? How do I want them to view their place in the world? What kind of world do I want them to grow up in?

The year is 2013, yet women still face hatred and discrimination, much like we always have. We are objectified in pop culture, our bodies are belittled in an attempt to shame us into silence, and we are assaulted, battered and raped.

I can teach women, boys and girls self-defense classes until the cows come home. This makes individual women and kids safer. I will even argue that the zillions of classes I teach help increase safety in our community. This view society has of girls and women, however, is a problem that won’t be eradicated by working at it from only this one side.

Many schools have adopted a “No Tolerance” policy on bullying. I’ve seen that work very effectively. It’s time to adopt a similar stance with regards to the continuum of negative attitudes towards girls and women. This continuum runs the gamut from sexist jokes, condescension and put downs to sexual slavery, torture, rape and murder.

Women and the men who love and respect us have been speaking up for years and we will continue to do so. But now it’s time to raise the bar and institute a “No Tolerance” policy and relentlessly hold men accountable for each demeaning joke, look, and act.

We can continue to insist that there are no more stupid music videos and sexist political buttons. But as long as any girl has to live in fear of rape, our work is not done. So, men, it can’t be just us women and girls who stop watching the videos and laughing at the jokes. Hold your friends, co-workers, brothers and sons accountable. Take the next step and don’t tolerate any of it. Your daughters, wives and mothers are counting on it. Time’s wasting. Women and girls are getting hurt. Let’s get this done.


A Tulen Center Event: A showing of the movie “Bully” followed by a discussion. This event is open to everyone and is free.

When: Friday, November 1st. Doors open at 6:30. The movie starts at 7PM.   The event will conclude around 9:30 PM.   Discussion follows.

Where: Tulen Center, 4710 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Portland, OR 97225, 503-291-9333,

Bully Image

From The Bully Project Website:

Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. The new documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.

BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.

Parents play a vital role in supporting their kids, promoting upstander rather than bystander behavior, and teaching and modeling empathy in the home.


From Goeroe Silvia: This is a community issue. I look forward to seeing you and having the opportunity to discuss what all this means for the kids we all care about. See you there!

Traditional Martial Arts and Kids With Special Needs

In 1990, I graduated from Portland State University with my Master’s Degree in Special Education. My focus was children with “Behavior Disorders”, which is a broad term pretty much used to describe kids in a school setting who are having lots of challenges that haven’t been diagnosed. And as the name implies, they generally have behaviors that are distracting, and possibly hurtful, to themselves and others.

The Master’s Program was interesting and challenging and my professors and schoolmates were awesome. I have always chosen to work with kids, and this population in particular fascinated me. While studying at Portland State University, I was also training Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, and during that time earned the ranks of Gold and then Blue sash. Many of my projects and papers involved researching questions I had about how martial arts training might benefit kids with different types of learning challenges.

My gut told me there was something there, and my research helped me find lots of connections, specifically with regards to training traditional martial arts such as Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen. I learned to make a distinction between westernized martial arts schools and traditional martial arts schools. Westernized martial arts schools generally focus on competition like tournaments, and fast progression through the ranks, regardless of skill development, with relatively few checks and balances on the ego. For example, I’ve heard of six year olds getting black belts after training for a year. I’ve heard of payments that can be made to ensure that the student gets a black belt within a specific – and usually short – period of time.

What I found is that traditional martial arts systems teach skills that kids with challenges can really use. Skills like self-control, compassion, creating and nurturing an internal structure, learning about the importance of respect and character. Through training traditional martial arts, a student builds strength and confidence while being encouraged and supported to become a leader and role model. In a traditional martial arts school, each rank is earned through incredibly hard work. Tests challenge the strength, character and endurance of each student. Practitioners feel the authenticity of that experience along with the deep joy that comes with achievement as they are recognized and appreciated for their growth and development.

My dad always says to appreciate all the things you learn, because the lessons intertwine and weave throughout your life and find their way back to you when you need them. I think he was onto something!

Goeroe Silvia Smart

July 2013

Stranger Danger is Bunk

The great news is that the rate of child sexual abuse has gone down over the past two decades. FBI stats, as well as national surveys and studies are all showing this decline. This is a celebration-worthy accomplishment!

For my Teachers, my teammates and I, this is excellent news. For years we have worked with families, institutions, organizations and children to promote the awareness and prevention of child sexual assault. We have worked long hours, often for free, usually with very little recognition.

Over the years, we come up against the concept of “Stranger Danger” over and over again. Our job, then, becomes all the more challenging. Not only do we need to teach the knowledge and skills that can really and truly help keep kids safer, but we’ve also got to spend our precious time debunking this currently popular and ingrained theory, which really does NOT make kids safer at all!

Most kids are assaulted by someone they know. Assailants are family members, friends of the family, or people whom the family trusts, like a minister, neighbor or coach. My sense is that because of this, many grown ups find it awkward to talk with kids about sexual assault. Enter “Stranger Danger”, which is flashy, it rhymes, it’s cute, and gets lots of TV news time. Could it be that talking about strangers, abductions and kidnapping is somehow more comfortable for us grown ups?

Here’s the reality: Children are assaulted by people they know. Period. “Stranger Danger” is bunk, and teaching children to be afraid of strangers does NOT help our kids stay safer, it just makes them afraid of strangers! The US Department of Justice did some research on abductions. They found out that within the same year, there were 203,900 family abductions, 58,200 non-family abductions (friends and acquaintances) and only 115 stranger abductions! THIS is the reality we are talking about! THIS is what children are facing.

I’m a mom. I know the panic that strikes when our little one goes missing at the Zoo or in a mall. I know how the fear of our children getting hurt – or worse – can keep us up at night or wake us up in a sweat. But I honestly feel that filling kids up with fear, keeping them on a tight leash and warning them against strangers is not only a disservice, but it’s giving them a false sense of reality as well. And it doesn’t make them safer! As adults, maybe it makes us feel better, gives us some sense of control, but it gives the very beings we want most to protect a false sense of security, an unbalanced sense of reality and it doesn’t make them any safer!

So, how do you explain to kids that actually, most adults are good people, care about kids and want them to be safe? How do you tell them that there are just a few “bad guys” out there, and one of them might be our neighbor, our soccer coach, our minister or our aunt’s new boyfriend? How do you teach this without creating a bunch of anxiety-filled and paranoid kids?

Well, it’s not easy! For sure, it’s a fine balancing act, and one that absolutely cannot be defined by a cute one-liner like “Stranger Danger”. My Teachers, teammates and I have worked together for years to find a way to empower kids while at the same time giving them a fair and reasonable sense of what’s real and what’s at stake. Kids are strong, and I believe that they are also smarter and more powerful than most adults give them credit for.

Our kids’ self-defense classes are called No! Go! Yell! Tell! All of us who teach these classes are martial artists with years of training and real-life experience. Many of us are moms. Classes are fun, high-energy, and super informative. Kids feel challenged and empowered and parents always feel grateful. Our classes open up honest conversations that can (and we hope will) continue at home. Honest communication equals safety, and that’s a fact.

So let’s enjoy hearing about a crime statistic that is going down, but let’s press onward and keep up the good work. Let’s make a pact to teach kids what’s real, to share information and teach skills that empower children and keep them safe. Get your kids training with us and you’ll be setting them up for success, you can count on it.
NGYT LogoPlaces you can train:

My School: Tulen Center

In SE and North Portland Portland at One With Heart

In Oakland, CA at Studio Naga

In New York

On Cape Cod

In the Netherlands

In Canada


Words from a Grateful Mom

I’m writing this review for you parents out there.

Short version: Send your kids here.  Especially if they’re girls.

Medium version: The school is not competitive, there’s no lockstep testing schedule, no tournaments; it’s just all about inner and outer strength, what each person can achieve and being the best you can be.  Many of the top people at the studio are strong women whom everyone respects, and everyone supports each other no matter how old or young, how experienced or inexperienced you are.  Send your kids here.

Longer version: My daughter started training when she was eight.  She trained for ten years, until she left for college; now she trains when she comes home on vacation, and trains at college with others in the area.  Training taught my daughter all the things that martial arts always teaches – strength, discipline, respect, responsibility – and way more.  It gave my daughter a variety of strong women to look up to, supportive men to work with, and a place where she was always loved for herself, even when the world was full of mean girls.  It taught her that goals and prizes don’t come on some set schedule – and that sometimes you think you’re ready and you still have to wait.  It gave her both pride and humility when as a child she was expected to teach adults of lesser rank; and it taught her patience and open-heartedness as some of her peers passed her.  It gave her friends of all ages, some of whom are her mentors and some of whom she has mentored, and all of whom support each other in the most amazing network.

I used to say that if my daughter ran away from home, I would know where she was, and I would know that she was in strong, good hands.  A mother is lucky if she can say that.  Send your kids here.

By Mas Naomi’s Mom


Mas Naomi (left) with Mas Goeroe Jennifer (center) and Pendekkar Amber (right) at a recent demo in Boston. Beautiful, strong and powerful women!

In the Most Unexpected Places

By Goeroe Silvia Smart

I train Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen and have for quite a number of years. I love it. I love the lessons I learn, I love my Teachers, my teammates and the students and families at my school. I love the physical workout, the self-defense and the way my confidence has grown. I love the sense of family that comes with being part of the Tulen Community. The love I feel is deep and abiding, the connections are sure and real and strong.

“Expect the unexpected” is a saying we have in our art. And sure enough, Poekoelan happens in the most unexpected places.


My daughter attends an arts magnet school in our area, where she was recently in a play. One night last weekend, I was the adult behind the scenes. My job was to hang out in case there was an emergency. Since the kids are so professional and amazing, I was just sitting around in a backstage office, enjoying catching up on some reading.


Around mid-performance, my daughter came rushing in with a handful of performers who were waiting to go on stage. “My friends want to talk to you about self-defense!” Over the years, I’ve learned that when people want to “talk about self defense” it usually means they have some fears and they’re looking for answers to their frightening “what if”s.


I put down my book and sure enough, one by one, the kids told me about what they were the most worried about, what they’ve seen or heard and situations they were frightened they might encounter. They were open and so very pure.


“What do you do if someone grabs you and tries to punch you?” We have a hold called “Blouse Grip with Punch”. I had my daughter grab my shirt with one hand and punch me with the other, so we could demonstrate the defense. They thought that was pretty cool! I asked them if they wanted to learn it. My offer was received with such enthusiasm and joy that my whole spirit started to sing. This is what I love!


My new students stood behind me and we practiced the movement in the air. Then they got to do it with an “attacker” AKA, my daughter. They were so excited! They “got” the movement quickly and beautifully. Such eager and fast learners! So we did more. “What if someone’s choking you from behind?” “What if you get pushed to the ground?” “What if someone puts a gun in your face?”


The performers needed to get on stage, but they came back to visit me later and we did some more. For the rest of the evening, this became the backstage theme. The students practiced on one another, and they even started showing the moves to other performers and crew members too. They were on fire!


The Fantasticks


Experiencing the excitement and empowerment of the kids was incredible. They came to me with some very specific fears, fears that burdened them and held them down, and when they left, they’d faced those fears and learned very practical ways to handle some scary situations.


 (This is a photo of “The Fantasticks” performed at the Arts and Communication Magnet Academy, a public school in Beaverton, OR.)


This is a living art. It lives in each of us as we practice it and pass it along. The art thrived that night in the hearts of those of us in that backstage office. There I was, reading a book. Next thing I know, I’m teaching kids to flip someone over their back. When we stay open and ready, the greatest things can happen. “Expect the Unexpected!”


Poekoelan Finds You

I know I harp on this a lot, but you are really never too old to train Poekoelan. With age comes wisdom. You might be scared, yes, but you are not too old. The Poekoelan Community loves and cherishes all of our students, from the youngest newborn to the oldest Grampa. There is room for everyone here, this is what we do. Mas Cheryl, from our sister school, One With Heart Tulen Center in North Portland, has some words of wisdom about how she, a Grandma, started on her training path.

GBA Trainer Family


To the left, you’ll see some advanced students in our art. You don’t have to look too closely to notice some gray hairs. Really, there’s a place for you in Poekoelan no matter how old you are!


How Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen Found Me

by Cheryl Hagen

My first Instructor, Bantoe Gerry, once said “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.”

At first I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I now know this was true for me and my family.

When my granddaughter Tara was in first grade at Beach School she came home excited about an afterschool self-defense class called “No, Go, Tell, Yell.” After she attended the class we were invited to St. Johns to a place called One With Heart.  We had looked at other martial arts schools for the Tara and her brother, but hadn’t found a place that felt quite right. I was no longer looking. As soon as we walked into One With Heart I said to my daughter “sign them up.” I could feel the positive energy immediately.  I noticed everyone was talking and laughing; smiles everywhere, even the instructors. We sat down, watched, and signed Tara up that day.

Tara loves training. She tried for some time to get me to train with her; a grandma, granddaughter thing.  I told her I couldn’t do it because of my age and physical condition. I honestly didn’t think I could do it.  But many people saw more in me than I saw in myself. One student asked me why I didn’t train. I told her what I told Tara; I was too old and I wasn’t in good enough shape. She pointed out there is no better way to get into shape than to start working out. And she pointed out that there was one student who was older than me when she started training and was now close to earning her Black Belt. I wasn’t completely convinced, but Tara was relentless so I continued to think about it. Finally, at age 52, a smoker, not the best shape, I decided to give it a try.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. That was almost three years ago.

Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen is much more than a martial art. Training has helped me meet and overcome life challenges and I know this is true for many people. There are times during training when I have felt frustrated because physical injuries make certain things difficult to do.  When I am frustrated Bantoe Gerry reminds me that Poekoelan is like a broken mirror, no two students will look the same.  Just like a mirror when you break it, all the little pieces are different, yet together they are complete.  So even though I have had to make modifications in my training I can see that I am part of something bigger. And my part is as important as any other.

Today my daughter and three of my grandchildren train. We are growing together. Since I began training, my physical endurance has improved.  My brain is more alert. My stress level has gone down.  My self-confidence rises with each challenge I overcome. I am more patient than ever before.  And I have just about quite smoking.

I am continuously finding new strengths I never knew I had.   I tell my story because if one person takes the challenge I took from my granddaughter, that person may find strength they never knew they had.  Bantoe Gerry once told me “Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen finds you, you don’t find it.” I never thought I would train a martial art. I certainly wasn’t looking for one.  I feel so fortunate that Poekoelan found me.