Saturday, April 30, 2011

Angels with Attitude: The Socially Intelligent Woman's Guide to Personal Safety

My book is finally for sale on You can buy a copy for $6.99 Please purchase a copy.

Here is the link;

Here is the description from website.


Angels with Attitude: The Socially Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Personal Safety brings the training that self defense expert Danny Kessler teaches his students in workshops around the world to YOU. The book addresses self defense, awareness, body language, intuition, reading people and boundary setting and discusses how these techniques can be employed to maximize personal safety. Women have better intuition and communication skills than men; this book will teach you how to turn these natural talents into practical and empowering strategies for your safety and the safety of the people that you love. In this book you will learn:

How to trust your powerful female intuition.

How to read and analyze people on sight.

How to detect danger before anything happens.

How to use your body language to set visual boundaries with people you would rather not talk to.

Powerful verbal self defense that makes men freeze in their tracks.

What do you do if your ex starts behaving like a stalker.

How to set boundaries with male friends and coworkers.

To determine what self defense devices and martial arts classes are for you.

How to fight when your life is in danger.


Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Stungun" Kim Visits the Orphanage

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to go to an orphanage in Ulsan Korea with Dong Hyung "Stungun" Kim. These teenage boys had the opportunity to meet this rising Korean superstar. He signed an autographs for the kids and and played an intense pickup game of soccer.

As he was walking up to the soccer field, the kids started running towards him, screaming his name. I thought to myself, this is a moment that these kids will remember for the rest of their lives. You can see the delight and awe on there faces.

Thank's to Dan Gauthier of T-HOPE for helping to organize the event.

For more pictures of the event, please visit my friend Mindy Sisco's photoblog

A Failure to Communicate

(This is an article I wrote for Busan Haps Magazine about business communication and culture in South Korea.)

A Failure to Communicate

As an expat living in Korea, I can safely say that we all have similar problems that we run into with work, with the Korean government or with certain Korean people we deal with on a regular basis. Most of these problems stem from communication issues. In this article, I will explain my version of why things the way they are. I would also love to get your feedback, more specifically, your explanations on why things the way they are here in Korea.

Malcolm Gladwell in his most recent bestselling book,Outliers, writes about how in the late 80s, Korean airlines had one of the highest crash ratings. After many crashes, Boeing did a study on this Korean Airlines problem and found that the problem was a communication issue. In summary, the problem was with the pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer, and their inability to communicate in the sky. The co-pilot would try to tell the pilot there was a problem, but he could not speak to him in a direct and blunt manner, so the pilot did not understand the incoming danger and the plane crashed. Variations of this pattern happened many times. Finally, Boeing had all the pilots fired, required new pilots to learn English and communicate in English-only when in the sky.

The Korean language has six different levels of conversational addresses, depending on the relationship between the people communicating. If someone is in a powerful position, the subservient person must communicate with that person in an indirect way. In Korean culture, all social behavior and actions are conducted in the order of seniority or ranking. As the saying goes, there is order even to drinking cold water (chanmul to wi alay ka issta.)

This is a culture where enormous attention is paid to the relative standing of any two people in conversation. So much focus is on this formality and indirect subtle communication, it is my belief that it does not allow for certain types of cognition, the free flowing of ideas and creative problem solving.

In western communication, we have a transmitter-orientation style of speaking. It is considered the responsibility of the speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously. The speaker often does this by repeating him or herself, or changing his or her words or examples until he receives feedback from the listener that he or she is understood.

For example in western-style communication, after showing up to work late last week, a western boss might say, “You know you were late last week on Tuesday. That is against school policy. If you are late two more times, then you will be fired. Are we clear? Do you understand ?"

Korea, like many Asian countries, has a receiver-oriented communication style. It is up to the listener to make sense of what is being said. This high-power distance communication works only when the listener is capable of paying close attention, and it works only if the two parties in a conversation have the luxury of time, in order to unwind each other's meanings.

An example of this eastern style of communication is (following in the same context, where you were late for work last week) Your boss says to you very casually, “When John was late last week, the principal was not happy. “ He says this with the same assumption that you will understand what he says and change your behavior or you will be fired.

One would have to interpret this sentence and its various meanings and appropriately guess the correct meaning. Then this person would have to indirectly check with the boss if what he/she guessed is the correct meaning. This takes a lot of time to decode correctly, and while energy is focused on semantics, energy is not focused on creative problem solving and moving onto the next problem.

This style of communication is often a hindrance when doing business where clear, concise communication is necessary to operate and compete on the global marketplace. This is the reason why westerners are often hired to run, manage and operate Korean multinational companies. Westerners do not have issues about being direct to superiors and over-communicating until a mutual understanding is reached.

Honest feedback from the people they work with serves as a competitive advantage in the business world. In Korea, this honest feedback is lost in the noise of polite formality and indirect communication. With many thousands of westerners in Korea teaching English, working for Korean multinational companies and insinuating ourselves into Korean culture, will hundreds of years of cultural legacy change Korea?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kim "Stun-Gun" Dong Hyung speaks about the future of Mixed Martial Arts in Korea

Interview with Kim "Stun Gun " Dong Hyung

Kim ‘Stun Gun’ Dong Hyung of South Korea recently won a fight against Amir Sadollah at UFC 114 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. I had the opportunity to sit down with the only Asian welterweight in the UFC to discuss his latest victory and the state of Mixed Martial Arts in Korea today.

He told me that going into the fight he knew Amir’s style from their time training together last year. Prior to the fight, he had arrived in Las Vegas with his coach Sung Hoon Yang and training partner Myung Ho Bae training for about a month in some of the top gyms in Las Vegas including Xtreme Couture, Wanderlae Silvas Fight Team, Warrior Training Center, Team Fasi, and Tapout Gym. Despite only competing in the UFC on a few previous occasions, he was immediately recognized by the fighters in the Vegas area all of whom remembered him from his battle the year before with Karo Parisyan at UFC 94.

Following a phenomenal performance against Sadollah, his perfectly executed GSP like timed takedowns earning him a decisive victory by unanimous decision, the stun gun returned to his native Korea appearing on ‘Celebrity Athlete Challenge’ among other popular talk shows whose main target audiences are the younger generation. Of late his face is increasingly recognizable as he walks around his home city of Busan. “Nowadays, even non-fighters are starting to know me.”, he said with no small degree of affection in his voice.

After winning $65,000 fighting in America, which is a lot of money in Korea, he bought himself a house. “After I win my next UFC fight I’m going to buy a Porsche” he remarked confidently. Assumptions of the cocky stereotype of a flashy, thoughtless fighter laid aside Kim emphasized that he wants to show his success because he sees himself as a role model for future fighters coming out of Korea who dream of competing in the UFC.

In regard to the state of MMA in Korea he told me that “When I first came to the UFC people thought Koreans were weak, but I proved them wrong. Korea is slowly rising in the MMA world.” There are five other Korean nationals he believes are good enough to fight in the UFC and he wants to raise awareness of them in America. He says the younger generation thinks highly of him and of MMA; “Once they know the sport, they love it. Lately in Korea, the sport has grown exponentially.”

He relayed his feelings to me that Korea didn’t much care about figure skating before Kim Yu Nah exploded onto the scene. “Now they are all big fans since she won an Olympic gold medal”. He predicts a similar trend in viewership in Korea within the Mixed Martial Arts since he has been stacking up victories in the most established and well known MMA tournament on the planet, the UFC.

Talking about the popular UFC related television series ‘The Ultimate fighter’ Kim said he would love to see Ultimate Fighter Asia; Korea versus Japan with the winner having the opportunity to fight in the UFC. He thinks this would be a great way for the sport to grow in the relatively untapped Asian market.

With more fights two more fights remaining on his contract with the UFC we spoke at length about his hopes for the future. ‘I believe at this point I have made my bones with the UFC so I’d love the opportunity to fight a top 10 guy’ he told me, a fire suddenly alighting behind his otherwise striking, yet calmly composed face. ‘Of course most of all I’d like to fight GSP’ he continued, the excitement in his voice at the prospect not lost in translation, but realistically he sees himself being paired up against Carlos Condit for his next fight.

In a country where they still consider sports a ‘stupid person’s job’, Korea’s Kim Dong Hyung continues to pioneer the path for future young hopefuls in the sport and is helping to influence change in a conservative culture and contribute to expanding interest in the Mixed Martial Arts.

K-1 in Seoul Through American Eyes 2009

This is an article Vince Nance and I wrote in 2009 after attending K-1 event in Seoul

K-1 in Seoul Through American Eyes

Danny Kessler and Vincent Nance

I recently attended the K1 Grand Prix event held at the world famous Olympic
Park facility in downtown Seoul, South Korea. Kicking off at 3:00 on a Saturday
afternoon, it was 6 hours of pure gladiatorial entertainment. The event opened
with 2 fights followed by 2 "special" fights and then kept the action going with
a stacked card of 9 MMA fights. Throughout the evening, spectators saw 13
world class bouts for a price that ranged from $28(nosebleed) to $950(VIP)
*currency conversion rate from Won to USD. For the very sober price of 55,000
- 99,000 Won (roughly $42 - $85 USD) there were respectable mid-range seats
available. No one can argue that the entertainment value was stellar, and the
price left fans guilt free to visit an array of concession stands for traditional
Korean food as well as a GS mart (one of Korea's largest convenience store
chains) where fans crowded in to help turn a heavy profit on beer, soft drinks,
and chips alone. Despite having a monopoly on the ability to sell beverages at
the event, beers were priced around 2$, and were extremely popular in a country
where TaeKwonDo is their national sport and intoxication is a national pastime.
By the end of the evening fight fans were red faced and grinning as they made
their ways to the exits with their arms around each other, still shouting about the
experience with voices hoarse from a night of incessant screaming.

Between fights, I spent some time evaluating my surroundings and was surprised
to find about 20% of the seats empty. As a non-resident in Korea on a work
visa, I immediately thought of the battle I had fight in order to purchase tickets
in advance, and began wondering how many foreigners who would otherwise
have attended the event might have had similar experiences and made other
plans for their weekends. Korea only allowed tickets to be advance purchased
by its citizens, thereby literally barring hundreds of thousands of foreigners from
utilizing the preferred method of obtaining tickets to the K-1 Event in their jewel
city. There are currently over 1.1 million expatriates living in Korea, comprised
mostly of American military personnel, English teachers, University professors,
and laborers throughout the country who reside here both on work visas and as
visitors. One can certainly speculate that hundreds of thousands of potential
attendees could have more than filled in any gaps in seating had they had the
ability to do so.

Because of its homogeneous ethnic and cultural climate, Korea tends to
be racially exclusive without doing any extra work. Putting aside the fact
that "outsiders" are largely considered to be second class citizens, K-1 can't be
fond of having to see empty seats in the arena because of a country's racially
biased closed mindedness. In order to buy tickets online (rather than attempting
to pay cash at the front door and hoping the event wasn't sold out) I actually
had to have a Korean friend act as a surrogate to buy my tickets, as "foreigners"

literally had NO way to make such a purchase. Additionally, my Korean
accomplice - in what felt a lot like a crime - actually had to physically give me his
license to take to Seoul in order for me to be allowed to pickup my tickets. It can
safely be assumed that any non-Korean citizens on the fence about attending this
event landed squarely on the side of "not wanting to jump through 10 flaming
hoops of identity theft".

Leaving money on the table:

I am not certain about the rules governing the way that Olympic Park Stadium
was setup, but I saw no tables/booths for martial arts gyms in Korea cross
promoting their gyms. This is, of course in stark contrast to MMA in the U.S.,
where it's standard procedure to have a multitude of booths promoting MMA
gyms, MMA magazines, MMA websites, and merchandising their brands for a
share of the profits... In Korea none of this was present. I wonder if it was
impossible for Korean businesses to get permission to advertise at this venue,
or if there is a cultural taboo against mixing martial arts and sales, but there
were many fans in attendance that would surely have been receptive to this and
whatever the case, revenue was certainly lost for these organizations. In fact,
throughout the entire event no K-1 merchandise was for sale, which shocked me.
I was actively trying to buy K-1 tee-shirts or any of their other apparel such as
gloves, wraps, bags, or gifts as souvenirs to take home for my family. I am sure
many fans would have loved to have purchased K1 branded apparel but there
were no such items for sale within the venue itself. It was only after the event
was over, when fans were practically stampeding out of the stadium to beat the
crowd, that there were K1 T-shirts available for purchase. For fans who weren't
too rushed, distracted, drunk, excited, or exhausted, these shirts cost a mere
10,000 won (around $8.50 USD), and I happily purchased 3 of them.

I definitely give the event coordinators high marks on the production quality
of the show. The overall organization, camera work, special effects, lighting,
acoustics, fighter match ups, and seamless transitions were all world class. The
consistent energy in the crowd was evidence of a team of coordinators who
clearly knew how to build and execute a venue that is worth the experience in
every way. However, despite the quality of the experience for attendees, I've
come to the conclusion that K1 is leaving money on the table. ALOT of money.
Not only could they have been raking in cash from their most devoted fanbase
in the form of merchandise, they would easily have seen a 20% boost in ticket,
concession, and merchandise sales by providing non-Korean citizens with a
reasonable way to guarantee entry through the advance purchase of tickets.
Korea may have successfully held a K-1 event, but they also succeeded in
demonstrating room for improvement.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks is an American fitness guru, martial artist, actor, and the inventor of the Tae Bo exercise program. This is a picture of him and I at the Dyslexic Dreams Foundation annual GALA . This GALA held in Washington DC helped raise money for The Friendship School.

It was an honor to hang out with Billy Blanks. We had some great conversations about the growing sport of Mixed Martial Arts.