301 words by Susie Kahlich
In 2000, I was living in Los Angeles, working on becoming a screenwriter. I
love storytelling, and I’ve always wanted to tell stories to the world. But one
night in July, I became the victim of a violent crime. It lasted only a few
minutes, but it changed the course of my life. As part of my recovery, I
started training in a martial art called Ninjutsu – the art of the Ninja. It
started out with a desire to learn to defend myself better, but as my training
continued, I found that I had a pretty natural capacity for a lot of the stuff I
was learning: the ability to make myself small, situational awareness,
strategic thinking, intuition. My teacher thought it was because I had a
warrior spirit, but I think it’s because I had already had a lot of practice, just
as a woman in the world. I found myself thinking, what if women took
these incredible skills we already have and applied them instead to
the boardroom, the negotiating table, creating strong networks or
As women, we spend 50% of our energy on strategizing how to stay safe. What if we could unleash that 50% into the world as creative energy instead? What would the world look like? What could we make? What would we be?
Those few minutes on a hot July night 20 years ago set me on a new
career path, one that is focused on helping working women work like
women, and showing women how to apply the tools they already use to
stay safe, so they can free up that time and energy to focus on the things
that really matter: Pursuing careers. Exploring the world. Realizing dreams.
Building a better world.
About the author
Susie Kahlich is the founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense, a user-friendly self defense system developed in 2009, and based on her experience as a violent crime survivor and her subsequent 20 years of martial arts training. Through Pretty Deadly, she has worked with violent crime survivors, sexual aggression, and trauma victims on three different continents and in multiple cities around the world, and given seminars and private workplace consultation on sexual harassment policies for tech start-ups, corporate media, co-working spaces , thinktanks and blockchain companies in Europe and the UK.