Concealed Carry – No Weapons Allowed

A strange thing happened after a self-defense class for Real Estate Agents at Tulen Center this past week. When the class was over, as usually happens, participants hung out chatting. One of the women, a very professional realtor in a suit with a snazzy matching handbag, wanted to thank me and gave me her card. She said she got a lot out of the class and was very grateful. Then, as she casually patted her purse with a big smile, she told me that she also carries a gun with her at all times and has a “concealed carry” permit.

It never occurred to me that anyone would bring a gun into Tulen Center, and I was taken aback. It didn’t matter to me that she had it hidden in a purse, that the safety was on, and that no one ever saw it. I did not want that gun in our school! Period.

We have precious small people in Tulen Center. Heck, we have precious big people here too! Even the PDX FBI, with all their years of training, have had six gun accidents in their weapons room in the past 10 years. Guns discharge by mistake. Guns get into the wrong hands. Bringing a gun into our school is not OK with me, or Mas Goeroe Jeff.

We remove our shoes, drop our bags and bow onto the floor as a sign of the respect that we have for this place. We do chores, selfless service and spend time with our beloved teammates in here. We challenge one another, support one another, encourage one another when the going gets tough and we lift one another up so that we can all be our strongest and highest selves. Having a gun in our school is the antithesis of everything we do and say.

So in case we have not been clear enough, please know that weapons are NOT ALLOWED in Tulen Center. Don’t be surprised if you see a sign up to that effect!

As Mas Goeroe Jeff said with his tongue in his cheek: At Tulen Center, we use FAKE WEPONS ONLY!

This is not a missive on my opinion of guns in general, the NRA, people carrying guns and weapons, assault rifles, or anything of the sort. This is just me, telling you, in no uncertain terms, that guns and other weapons, are not allowed into our school.

Meet Pendekkar Emily!

Bantoe Emily cropped copy 2 I began training at 9 at a self-defense summer camp in Portland where I learned how to safely answer doors and phones (before cells!). I learned to roll like a tiger and felt strength in a place that soon felt like a home to me.

Surrounded by people that crossed the borders of ages, states, and even countries, I fell in love with training. We learned how to move according to our body and our own hearts.

My mother passed away when I was a teenager and my Poekoelan teammates and teachers were a great support. I was “adopted” by older “black-belt” sisters and brothers.

My dad supported my training. He’d hold pads for me in parks and we’d watch Kung Fu movies together. We now live far from each other, but our phone calls always include what’s happening in class.

At my white sash promotion, standing before Goeroe Karin, my legs trembled. I felt elated like I could do anything I put my mind to – I believed in myself. But the most remarkable thing is that my teammates believed in me. As a teacher now, I give back by believing in others. Believing in our students really does teach them to believe in themselves.

I’ve been training over 22 years. I recently became a board member on the Tulen Foundation. I’m motivated by the thought of more kids finding a safe place where they too can grow their confidence and belief in themselves.

I’ve trained in many Poekoelan schools, in Portland, Bend, Cape Cod, New York, Seattle… and many little impromptu training spaces. To all my teachers and teammates, I thank you for all the lessons, love and fights (in a good way!) – I look forward to so much more.

Meet Your Teammate: Bantoe Dee

Bantoe Dee trains Poekoelan at Studio Naga in Oakland, CA and recently shared some thoughts about her training:

Bantoe Dee, big heart and lots of fun!

Bantoe Dee, big heart and lots of fun!

I started training Poekoelan at age 40 with no sports background and a whim to try ‘karate.” I had been clean and sober for a number of years but was still a tad rough around the edges. This picture of my early training doesn’t tell the story of how much I needed the discipline, challenge and integrity of training, both physically and mentally.

During the early years, I fought like my teammates were trying to kill me, and I fought against every rule of the Studio that I didn’t like. I fought the uniform requirement by wearing a plain white T-shirt instead of a dragon T. (I liked the way it fit better.) I questioned why I had to tie my belt on the left; I wanted to wear it on the right, like the guys.

In sparring, I fought like a crazed animal.  In fighting, my glasses would be knocked off and fly across the training floor and I would get mad. (Eventually I was ordered to buy prescription sports goggles.) I heard “Mas Dee pick up your glasses” and “Mas Dee watch your contact” and “Mas Dee go into meditation” so many times. I swore I would quit as soon as class was over or that particular test ended.

I felt this way in nearly every class, and nearly every test. However, though I thought my teacher was being mean to me, I stayed on the floor, returned each week, and never quit.  Over the years, I grew to be less angry and less fearful. I learned to bring my joy and humor to my training.

As this season of gratitude begins I am most grateful to have stuck with my training and grateful not to have needed it to defend myself from harm. I am especially grateful to use the mental and spiritual training of this beautiful martial art in my daily life to work my way through many of life’s conflicts and disappointments.

Every week we have people come into the Studio and ask us to help them, or their children. We are asked, “Do you teach discipline?”

Yes, we teach discipline. How do we do this?  I have learned that no one is special; the rules and the order apply to all and that is part of my practice, part of my training. Whether you are 3 or 55 (like me) you practice the same forms over and over, wearing the same thing as everyone else, tying your belt again, and again.

From this training – the constant repetition, the stick-with-it-ness – the discipline arises, as does respect, compassion and leadership skills. I’ve learned here that everyone is unique, but that no one is special; the rules apply to all and the gifts are available to all as well.

My edges are a little less rough now, and my heart is so much more open.  And no, I don’t think my teammates are trying to kill me – we’re just helping each other grow.

Happy season of gratitude to each Naga student and family,

Bantoe Dee

Recently, Bantoe Dee and the Studio Naga Community celebrated the successful completion of her 3rd degree "Bantoe" test with a lovely ceremony.

Recently, Bantoe Dee and the Studio Naga Community celebrated the successful completion of her 3rd degree “Bantoe” test with a lovely ceremony.

FREE No! Go! Yell! Tell! Wrap Up

Self-defense is a life skill, like knowing what to do in case of a fire, having information about water safety, or knowing what to do if the smoke alarm goes off at night. Every kid deserves the right to have this information and we decided to do something about it!

Thank you for this wrap up – as a former school counselor I deeply appreciate the content and services you provide. I’m glad that so many Capitol Hill students were able to participate! – Pam Wilson, Principal

Ainsworth NGYTGiving back to the community is important in our art. Teaching empowerment and awesome physical self-defense skills is one of the ways we do that. Back in the Fall of 2014, my wonderful employee, Jayne, and I brainstormed and came up with a program to teach 15 free self-defense classes at Tulen Center and on site at Beaverton and SW Portland Public Schools. We proposed this idea to the Tulen Foundation and they backed us in this crazy project! We were able to serve 479 students and their families, and taught on playgrounds, in Kindergarten classrooms, music rooms, hallways, libraries, gyms and cafeterias all over Southwest Portland!

There are many hoops to jump through when working with Public Schools, as you can imagine, but it was worth the effort. The kids were enthusiastic, the parents, supportive and helpful. Most of the schools grasped our vision and became eager to jump on board, help facilitate our workshops and spread the word. We are grateful for the partnership of the staff and administration at both the district level and at the neighborhood schools. We couldn’t have done this without them.

Library at RiekeAnd again, many thanks to the Tulen Foundation for believing in us, for supporting our work and this wonderful program. Thank you to all of you who donate ( because these are the types of programs you back with your dollars.



As Jayne said: It was a wonderful experience joining forces with the BSD and PPS to be able to bring these beneficial and engaging classes to their students. This great 3 month adventure has brought us to many different schools and has introduced us to countless students who have benefited from taking the No! Go! Yell! Tell! class. It was very encouraging to see the next generation really tune into their intuition and build on their self confidence, not to mention the strength and power that was exemplified by the students in each class.

Here are just a few of the many comments people shared with us in a post-class survey:

  • I think you did a great job of expressing that the lessons learned here are to be used in truly dangerous situations, not on your annoying sibling. And the whole class seemed to be at just the right pace to keep the kids attention, which is a difficult thing to do.
  • I was happy about the information supplied. Delivery was excellent! Thank you for presenting it in a PG manner!
  • Thank you for a very informative class.  I wish my parents would have taken me to a class like that when I was a kid.  It would have been very helpful.
  • The instructor was amazing. Even my kiddo who is very anxious and has sensory issues came home and asked if we could go to self-defense every Wednesday! Wonderful class!
  • Thank you, you handled a difficult subject really well!
  • He learned how to use his power to hit as hard as he can instead of worrying about poses and techniques that are harder to grasp.
  • My child learned to trust her guts and walk with confidence.
  • You taught my child how to stay safe. The entire presentation and all of the information given was important.
  • Don’t be afraid to say, NO!
  • My daughter gained confidence and was able to be really LOUD!
  • It was an excellent class. We both enjoyed and took away so much valuable information.
  • The information you shared was relevant but not scary.
  • I loved the class and am glad my child could attend.
  • I feel the presentation of the information was handled great and was spoken in terms that the kids understood.
  • The instructor was intelligent, a good communicator and an excellent presenter.
  • This was a very positive and empowering class that I wish everyone could benefit from.
  • Just want to say thank you for doing these free classes at elementary schools.
  • Thank you for offering this service. My very shy child benefited the most. He’s not a joiner so I was surprised that when he eventually got into it, he really tried hard to do things as you showed. He’s been talking about it as well. Thank you!
  • Thank you for your time and energy spent teaching our kids!
  • We reached 479 students and their families. Here are the schools where we taught and the numbers of participants from each:

Beaverton School District:

Montclair – 25, McKay – 15, Raleigh Hills – 41, Raleigh Park – 47, Fir Grove – 15, Findley – 16, Ridgewood – 25, Vose – 16

Portland Public Schools:

Bridlemile – 18, Maplewood – 36, Ainsworth – 35, Hayhurst – 16, Rieke – 54, Capitol Hill – 29

At Tulen Center – 91

TOTAL: 479!

If you’d like to know more about our programs:

To find out about our summer camps:

If you’d like to make a tax deductable donation:

Gym at Ridgewood


Open Mat – It’s in Your Hands

“It’s in your hands” is one of the principles of our art. We learn to dig deep on the workout floor and give it all we’ve got. We practice making choices about our training – which classes to go to and how to prepare for testing. We embrace being fully present when we teach. And we figure out, slowly over time, that the more we put into our training, the more we get back.

As students, if we only run forms and standards in the presence of teacher and teammates, and only during class time, we miss out on a very special experience. “It’s in your hands”, (among many other things,) includes finding times and places to train outside of class. Not only do we get to practice what we’ve been taught, but we also get the opportunity to connect to our art in a deeper, more personal way.

We train in backyards, at the park, in the basement, in line at the bank…In fact, ask any advanced student to list off the variety of places they have practiced this art, and you might be surprised.  In a bit, you can read about the myriad creative places Tulen students have trained. It’s really quite impressive!

As members of Tulen Center, students can take advantage of “Open Mat Time”. There are times scheduled every week for students to use the workout floor. In the spirit of Gatong Rajong (share and share alike) Goldens generously give their time and energy to help make this possible for you. (Open Mat time is for teammates to workout solo or together. If you are looking for a higher ranking student to work with you on specifics, that’s called a Private Lesson and is a little different. Just ask the front desk or one of the Goeroes for information about that.)

Here is how open mat time works.

1. Look at the schedule to find the times that work for you.

2. Check the calendar to make sure there are no workshops, birthday parties or events happening on the day and time you choose.

3. Connect with a Golden who is available to let you in to the school. (Goldens have a gold stripe on their black belt or gold fringe on their sash. It’s best to talk to a Golden in person, but you can also get their numbers from the front desk and call them.)

4. Arrange your time/s.

5. When you get in to work out, sign in on the open mat sheet on the clipboard hanging by the front desk.

NOTE: An adult (other than the Golden) needs to remain on site while there are kids under 18 in the building. Kids may not be left alone.

You are still encouraged to workout on a rooftop, mountain slope, in a pool or on a trampoline. One of my favorite Tulen memories is when I ran Set One in a Sufi Temple in the Cholistan Desert on the Afghanistan border in Pakistan in 1989. I thought I was alone, but when I got up from meditation, an old man approached me. He came up to me, looked into my eyes with a huge smile and bowed. I bowed back. It was an incredible moment of connection that passed between us crossing invisible boundaries of space, time and culture.

I thought it might be fun to ask some advanced students for stories about the unusual places they have trained and would like to share this incredible list with you:

From Mas Emily Trubits, a second year college student in Monmouth, Oregon and 2nd Degree Black Belt: Most of the places I’ve trained in the last year have been a bit unusual! I’ve trained in dorm rooms, dorm basements, a bunch of various grassy areas at both Western Oregon University and Oregon State University and at the beach. Today actually I had a day to myself so I hiked to the top of Bald Hill, which is nice and grassy at the top. There’s just enough space to run some forms and today was the perfect weather for meditation. I think the best thing about training on your own is that it really is all in your own hands, and when you are by yourself you don’t have to worry about being “right” or “wrong” you can just train.

Bald MountainI’ve attached a picture of my training space today 🙂 the picture might not do it justice but there is a great view of the sisters.







  • Mas Lisa Nolen who is a 2nd degree black belt, Associate Director of Development – Special Gifts at OHSU, and mother of two: I have practiced in my living room, back yard, the beach, an empty hotel basketball court, a hotel courtyard, campsites, the park, my aunt’s driveway…during a break at a church, at a retreat, in a friend’s gym, the copy room at work, my cube at work (nothing too big). On the bus I memorize my hold order, run holds in my head and do bus meditation.
  • Mas Autumn Sun Pardee: I train in my back yard on Mt Tabor often. Summer time I put on my head phones and flow fight/kumbongs in the grass. Couple of years ago, I came out and ran Lunkas in the snow.
  • Pendekkar Gerry Donaghy who works at Nike:  I used to practice Chinese weapons in the park across the street from my apartment. Yeah, got a few concerned glances from folks walking their dogs.
  • Pendekkar Emily Ahsoon lives in California, trains in Oakland at Studio Naga, and teaches at a Montessori School: I trained in the grass under a big banyan tree in Hawaii near the beach. Its branches were the roof of my training space. I think it’s the only space big enough for a form… Xo
  • Mas Goeroe Agoeng Jennifer Jordan, who lives in Boston, runs the Tulen School there, and is a Financial Analyst: I have worked out in the park on the top of Nob Hill in SF! On beaches on both coasts! A roof deck! My hotel lawn in Cali, Colombia. Oh yes and the Tuileries Garden in front of the Louvre in Paris.
  • Mas Colleen Bean, First Degree Black Belt living in Austin, Texas: During the Peace Corps, I trained in Huaylas, Ancash, Peru – my tiny village in the Peruvian Andes. I taught self-defense to teen girls in my town and a fellow volunteer’s town. I also had a little “kung fu” club with a group of younger kids, in which we played a lot of Poekoelan games and crawled. I still remember scoping out the fields for various animal feces before practicing my standards and movement!
  • Mas Adam Bleeker:  My honeymoon was in Bali, and I ran Lunkas in the jungle around our rental home and crawled in tiger in the neighbor’s rice fields. I ran an inspired Set One in the monkey temple among a thousand screeching monjets!
  • Mas Cheryl Hagen, a grandma who has been training about 4 years: At the beach, on my patio, but where I got the strangest looks was in the hallways, and ladies room at Portland Community College, usually around mid-terms and finals.
  • Mas Krystin Krause: The main basketball courts at the student gym at Notre Dame. The courts are open to a track two stories up, and the whole place echoed. Also, an empty room above a bar in Antigua, Guatemala. A yoga school used the space during the morning, but the owner of the bar let me use the room in the afternoons sometimes. He was an ex-pat from New Orleans and we bonded over talk of Spanish moss, live oaks, and zydeco music.
  • Pendekkar Scott Wagenhoffer-Zahn has been training since he was a little boy. He works for a hotel in Provincetown, MA and during off-season, he lives on site to take care of the place, and has it all to himself! He likes to train in the lobby!
  • Nils Hasche-Vasquez is a Second Degree Black Belt running the Tulen School in New York City. He is a Professional Fine Artist and his work has been featured in numerous publications and media: A couple of years ago I meditated and trained on Kailua Beach in Hawaii. It was intense energy and really cool.
  • Pendekkar Tim Cuscaden is a busy dad who appreciates and loves beauty. He remembers: In the hospital, I ran Set Three whilst awaiting a fellow practitioners surgery!
  • Bantoe Brett AugsJoost is getting ready to test for 4th degree/Pendekkar: Burning Man.
  • Mas Justine Metteer, Brown Sash, and mom to a very busy toddler: Super light crawling, between early contractions in the middle of the night back when my son was induced.
  • Bantoe Shannon Foxley, mom of two and Counselor at an Elementary School: Set One in the jungle in Ecuador with monkeys watching.
  • Mas Kim Manchester, First Degree Black Belt, mom, photographer and professor at PCC: Pelejaron Poekoe in my tent on the Pacific Crest Trail at 9,000 feet. Oh! And in the old racquetball courts at PCC.
  • Mas Layli Conway, First Degree Black Belt and brand new mom: Set One during our honeymoon on a secluded beach in Cuixmala Mexico. The shower – go figure, all my Kumbongs come to me in the shower. And just last week I chanted ‘I’m a strong and powerful kid’ during my strongest active labor contractions. It helped!
  • Bantoe Dee Hampton who lives and trains in Oakland, CA at Studio Naga: On the way to Reno stopped at tiny piece of grass along side some train tracks ran forms. Forward rolls in casino in Reno: I think there’s a theme!