Author: Bree Swartz

Badass Love

valentine's day

Whether you are that person sharing your public displays of affection with the world or you’re getting together with your pals to curse your ex-lovers.. on February 14th, LOVE is on your mind and in the air.

Call it a “Hallmark Holiday” if you will, I think it is kind of fabulous to have a day out of the year dedicated to celebrating LOVE.

Bare with me, feisty chicas. I’m not getting all mushy on you. I know our readers our serious bad-asses. But let’s be real.. it takes one tough cookie to love and be loved. As my buddy Lau Tzu says “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Love can be tough stuff.  And I’m not just talking about with a significant other. Having true friends that love you in and out, just the way you are with genuine pride and happiness minus any jealousy or competition, that you trust with your life..  that kind of love is a true gem. A rare gem.

And then there is family. The people that are forced to love you. As dysfunctional as it can get, if you’re lucky, you have family that love and adore you. And if you’re REALLY lucky, you actually like them back. I’m so very blessed with this kind of love.. even if we show it via some serious throw downs.

So today on this national day of love,  dig down deep, be courageous and share your love for someone. If  you’ve been hurt or burned before, be fearless, and let someone love you. Celebrate all the love in your world in every form that it comes. But most importantly, love yourself. Appreciate and accept where you are in life today and know it’s exactly where you are supposed to be. Seriously. You deserve it.

And you bet your sweet bad-ass we at Girls Fight Back love each and everyone of you.. And thank you for lovin’ us!

Happy Valentine’s Day fearless friends!

ShiP Happens..

ShippensburgGirls Fight Back kicked off our 2013 Spring BYOB -Bring Your Own Badass – Tour last night at Shippensburg University. And oh, did they bring it!

As we got down to business, I quickly learned that the guys and gals at Shippensburg have their own little twist on the saying “ShiP happens… ” So what are you going to do about it?

And their answer to the question is a resounding “FIGHT BACK!”.

With a recent spike in assault and violence reporting, as well as nation wide media attention concerning emergency contraceptive, this small but mighty student body refuses to let ShiP just happen to them. Their feisty spirit is admirable and ready to make a difference, a change for the good.

Sometimes you have to just roll with it, and I’m all about that. But some circumstances demand that you fight back. And Shippensburg is certainly leading the way in the good fight!

Hats off to you, fearless friends at Shippensburg, and thanks for bringin’ it.

 

Protect YOU this Holiday Season!

Well friends it’s full swing into “that time of year…” which seems to be code for colds, expensive plane tickets to see cousins you despise and drunken mall Santa’s.

Wow-wee! What a “fun” time of the year. I never realized my parents deserved an Olympic Gold Medal for surviving the holidays until I had to help put on dinner AND do gift shopping?! What?! This is crazy pants exhausting. Now I know why they were always trying to pull that “let’s go on vacation for your gifts” business.

But wait just one second. Hold the phone Mr. Grinch. Here’s a thought: what if “that time of the year” only has to be that crazy and chaotic if you allow it to be?

Yep, that’s right my feisty friends. What if YOU are in charge of you and how you handle this insane time called Holiday Season?

Because when it comes to being our own best protector’s at Girls Fight Back, we believe that means in every aspect of our life. Of course, you need to be your own best protector on the streets and in life-threatening situations. But we also need to be our own best protector’s in less obvious situations, like time management, family “obligations” and your health.

Seriously gals and guys, if you are spreading yourself too thin, (And we know you do. Yep, we’ve got your number, Type A go-getters.) it is time to realize you’re probably useless at the work party if you show up as Scrooge.  And you might as well be at home if you’re so tired you pass out during intermission at the church play.

Decide what is most important. Organize your priorities. And YOU decide, not your good friend guilt or obligation, what you have time for this holiday season.  Because as much as this time of the year is about giving, it is also about giving to yourself.. and why not give yourself a break?

I assure you, everyone will survive if you take a pass on planning the class Seasonal Party. Skip the work White Elephant if you’re just not feeling it. Not up for making the traditional family fruit cake  for dinner? Aunt Ethel will understand.. or get over it. Either way, the holidays should be fun, loving and enjoyable for EVERYONE.

So sit back, take an extra sip of the eggnog (the full fat kind, oh yeah) and make sure you protect yourself and your sanity this Holiday Season. You have our blessing. And the world, and even your loved ones, will thank you.

Happy Holidays to YOU, our kick ass readers!:)

 

Hoosiers Holla Back!

Last night I threw down with the Indiana University Hoo-Hoo-Hoo Hoosiers! As seen above, Girls Fight Back welcomed several ladies and gents to master the Badass Ballet, as well as some improvised weapons and basic ground fighting. The energy was just awesome!

A special thanks to IU’s Union Board for hosting a stellar event and taking a stand to fight back against recent assaults on campus. Born and raised in Indiana, I was especially proud to see such leadership and empowered young blood in my home state. Way to hold your own Hoosiers!

University of Arizona FIGHTS BACK!

The Wildcats of University of Arizona hosted my first Students Fight Back program on the #BYOB12 Tour. My hats off to the Panhellenic team for hosting GFB, but mostly for embracing our idea of FIGHTING BACK!

During my visit, I learned within the last year there had been attacks at UofA, including a student being sexually assaulted in the back of taxi by the driver. Scary, huh? This story stuck out in my mind because, let’s be honest, I can remember a time or two when my friends and I poured ourselves into a cab after one too many cocktails. So naturally, this story scared the crap out of me.

But after talking with the PanHellenic rep, I learned that although students may have had that initial shock, they weren’t going to let these assaults keep them living in fear. They weren’t going to stop going out or stop taking cabs. Instead, these fierce Wildcats wanted to know what they could do to protect themselves. How could they fight back?

And thus, they made the ever-so-wise choice to bring GFB in house to gain some seriously empowering ass-whoopin’ skills.

We didn’t tip-toe around the real world of college life either. We broke it down. Real talk. Yes, most assaults on campus occur when alcohol is involved and yes, alcohol affects your decisions. But it doesn’t mean you can’t go out without being attacked. It just means you need to go out smart: Trust your intuition. Don’t leave your drink or take one without seeing it poured, whether it is apple juice or gin & juice. And ALWAYS go out with friends, go home with friends… People that got your back.

But we not only talked the talk, we walked the walk with some lethal groin kicks and palm strikes. Oh yes, we went balls-to-the wall, so to speak.

These Wildcats took the first steps in leading a safer life. They didn’t shy away in fear after their peers had been attacked, but instead made the bold choice to be their own best protectors, while still enjoying college life. And that, my friends, is fighting back.

So thank you to the guys and gals of University of Arizona for hosting GFB. But most of all, thank you for reminding everyone that even after tragedies, on our own time and in our own way, we not only can, but we must fight back!

Cornell University: Brains and Brawns

On Tuesday night this week I had the honor to throw down with some stellar students at Cornell University for the BYOB12 Tour. Given their Ivy League status, I think genius smart (or “Andy” from The Office) typically comes to mind when you think of Cornell.

However, I got to see these smarty pants kick some ass. And to hear them tell it, it’s about time.

Given several recent assaults at Cornell, leaders in the Greek community are working to empower and educate students. But these Cornellians want to do more than just talk the talk, as both men and women were ready to put the books aside for a serious lesson in Bad-Ass Ballet.

By the end of night, I was humbled to see several students, especially the gals, walking out with comments of feeling safer, stronger and more empowerd.

So I have to thank you, Cornell students, for inviting Students Fight Back to take part in your campus awareness. But more importantly, thank you for having the guts to address these serious campus issues that are often easily swept under the rug at such prestigious schools. Those of you taking the stand to be your own best protectors are the true brainiacs on campus. With brawns, of course.

Tweet, Tweet… University of Iowa Kicks Some Tail-Feathers

Last night I spoke at my first Big Ten school on the Girls Fight Back “BYOB: Be Your Own Badass” 2012 Tour. Yes, I threw down with about 200 Greek gals at the University of Iowa.

And boy did they bring it: The energy was flowin’ and the palm strikes were throwin’. By time we learned the Badass Ballet and the gals added their own verbal grunts (it rocked), I’m pretty sure everyone in there was on a bit of an adrenaline rush.

But I think my favorite part of the night was reviewing the feedback and Twitter buzz, as we always ask the women at every event to join us online to create some commotion via Facebook and Twitter @girlsfightback #byob12. And boy did they ruffle some feathers.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I read the  kick-ass feedback. The BEST part of my job is when a young lady reveals that after learning what GFB is all about, she feels a little stronger, a little more self-assured and a lot more badass. Seeing things like  “I’m worth fighting for” and “I can actually do this stuff!” and my personal favorite, “God help the idiot who tries to attack me” are completely humbling. I knew these women were fierce the minute I met them, they just needed a little nudge to unleash their Mama Bear. And let me tell you, it is one of the greatest gifts in the world to help empower these amazing women.

So thank you Hawkeyes for bringing your own badass and throwing down with me last night. Thank you for all of the love. But most of all, thank you for giving me the gift to watch you walk out of that room a little bit taller last night, ready to kick any idiot’s ass that tries to attack you.

We Are Not Man-Haters

“You want what you can’t have.” We’ve all heard it, and probably lived it more times than we’d like to admit. But, I think this is exactly what went down when I visited New Mexico Tech on the Girls Fight Back BYOB 2012 Tour.

Allow me to explain: The same day GFB was making a stop at New Mexico Tech, there was a meeting on campus about self-protection and awareness. My friends who hosted GFB (and threw a stellar event) invited only the ladies to the BYOB Tour later that night.

Fast forward to that evening, I’m waiting outside the auditorium pointing people in the right direction to learn the “Badass Ballet,” my favorite self defense moves. In the process, I kid you not, I’ve never seen so many dudes ask and complain about not being invited to the GFB throw-down! It was hilarious.

Although I got a kick at how these guys legit wanted to come see what they were missing out on soley because they hadn’t been invited, I assured them they were more than welcome. ‘We are not a bunch of man-haters.’ It’s only together that we will win this cause. So come one, come all.

I was very impressed that a couple of the gentlemen took me up on my offer and supported their fellow lady friends as they learned to seriously kick some booty. So thank you to all the ladies (and men) of New Mexico Tech for having GFB and for joining forces to make your campus a kick ass and safe place.. even if we had to lure you there by make the grass greener on the other side:)

Baylor University.. I love you.

Traveling across the country for GFB, I get to meet a lot of fun, new people. But sometimes I get to make those much-needed pit stops at schools where, well it’s kind of like that favorite hang-out spot… everyone know’s your name. This is how I would describe my second stop of the BYOB 2012 Tour at Baylor University.

After having us in their house for several consecutive years, Baylor University knows all about GFB. And boy, do they make you feel welcome. With personalized T-shirts (photos to come), Dr. Pepper Floats and shouting out The Badass Ballet they’ve memorized.. all I’ve got to say is, Baylor University… I love you.

It Actually is A Wonderful World…

Happy Monday friends! At Girls Fight Back, our main goal is to educate and empower women to lead bad ass lives. We never want to scare you or convince you the world is a terrible place. And honestly, I feel the media does a pretty good job of highlighting all the bad out there. And what fun is that running around pretending every person is a serial killer or every sidewalk is a gauntlet!? (I mean, that could be kind of fun to take on a gauntlet on your way to work?)

 

But sometimes I think it is good to have a little reminder that this place we call Earth is actually quite awesome. There truly are so many great people out there doing amazing good deeds. So if you are needing a little pick-me-up today, here is an article that has been circulating the social media sites that will “Restore Your Faith in Humanity.”

Do something GREAT for another person today. Let these photos be your inspiration. Whether it be holding the door for another person, calling your grandma to say hello or smiling to a friendly stranger, share the love. And remember that it actually is a wonderful world!

Girls Fight Back at Sul Ross University

Girls Fight Back is in full swing for our 2012 BYOB Fall Tour! The first visit on my leg of the tour was with the good people of Alpine, Texas on September 11. Thankfully, I packed my cowgirl boots.

 

 

 

But don’t let their southern-belle accent throw you off.. these Sul Ross University girls can kick some ass! Thank you so much for having us back Sully Productions!!

I Threw Away My ‘Runt’

Last weekend I moved into a new apartment. It was just my tiny mom and I carrying desks, tables and recliners up and down three flights of stairs, driving a U-haul truck, lugging around a queen mattress, ruining walls with my power drill and even laying carpet. Let’s be honest, I was feeling pretty badass.

But it was when I was unpacking things, making my ‘ya’ and ‘na’ piles of clothes and junk, that I truly felt strong. I smiled when I saw The Runt stun gun my aunt had bought me a couple years back as I moved to Nashville solo. I had forgotten about it, as I failed to keep it handy. Heck I didn’t even know if it really worked. So, with a sense of pride, I tossed my Runt, into the ‘na’ pile.

I had a similar “hell yeah” moment after completing my GFB training in Colorado. Prompted by the discovery that carrying mace on a plane is considered a felony (even though I made it through a couple airports concealed in my purse.. thank you, TSA) I tossed my mace into the trash.

You might be thinking “What an idiot. Who would throw out a perfectly good self-defense weapon? Especially since GFB teaches incorporating improvised weapons into your protection.” (Yes, I’m sure that was your quote-for-quote thought). Well, allow me to explain why tossing out my mace and stun gun was the best decision for me.

1.)    I am an idiot (don’t tell my future husband that) and would probably make the $5,000 mistake of carrying the mace on the plane again.

2.)    After my extensive GFB  training  with Bill Kipp and the FASTDefense team as well as IMPACT – Chicago, I knew I had the ability to lay a solid palm strike if

need be.

3.)    After struggling to work my fine motor skills in several of these adrenalized scenarios, I know the likelihood of removing mace from the bottom of my purse, turning off the safety, and effectively shooting a stream into an attacker’s eye carried the same success rate of the blind dates I have been on: not so hot.

4.)    Let’s say an attacker is hyped up on some kind of drug. Spraying mase in their eyes would be

like splashing some water at them… refreshing the attacker is not the goal.

5.)    What about those moments when I’m probably not going to have my weapon on me? Like on a plane or in the little girls room? It isn’t always going to be handy, thus unreliable.

Yet, above all, the main reason I chose to toss out my protection goods was because I know my mind and body are much stronger than some spray in a bottle. In the heat of the moment, I trust my own hands, my intuition, my power, my body, my mind, my core and my “mama bear” over a man-made product. I am my own best protector. Not the Runt or mace.

This is obviously a personal choice and not best for everyone. In fact, you might feel your inner ninja is most lethal once you get a bottle of pepper spray in your hand. If any self protection weapon that you have experience using gives you the confidence and security you need to fight back, then by God, carry that buddy everywhere you can.

But personally, I can only count on me when it comes to my safety. No one else.  No other thing. Which is pretty empowering and quite plainly, feels damn good. So sighanora Mr. Runt.. this minimalist is sticking to what I know and trust best: me and my guns (pun intended).

Gun Tattoo On Muscle from www.tattoostime.com

This One’s for the Boys

Sitting in my improv class at the Chicago iO Theater, one of my peers found himself in a scene about manicures. Seeing as how he honestly didn’t know what cuticles were, I figured this was going to get good. He made a comment about how fun it would be to get a facial shave from a barber shop, old-school style. “I figured real men shave with a straight razor.” I laughed.

First, I know no one who gets this kind of treatment; all of my man friends continue to cut themselves with a protected Bic razor, let alone an open blade. Second, because I love the term “real men.”

Typically, “real men” are imagined as dudes ripping meat off of a huge turkey leg with their teeth,  speaking in a deep, sultry voice, built like The Rock, break boards for fun, sport a chest full of hair (button it up, Chi-town),  chop wood daily and yes, shave with a pocket knife.

Thankfully, we outgrew the cavemen era and this is a bunch of crap. Although any intelligent human being knows this, it became crystal clear to me a couple weekends ago as I furthered my GFB training with self defense guru Bill Kipp and his FAST DEFENSE team, the leaders in adrenal stress scenario based training.

The roll-call included Veterans, Air Force, police force, SWAT team members, ninjas (literally), black belts of all kinds of martial arts, and arguably THE best in self-defense. Yet upon exiting the toughest training I’d ever been through, “The Gauntlet” (that’s a whole other blog), each time I was greeted by these friendly giants with a huge embrace, as was every other woman at the training. Not to mention, the men who were taking my knee to the face multiple times would approach me after with compliments and encouragement.

Not once but twice did a few of these men bring me to tears with in-depth conversations of personal stories, faith and family. I was in awe of these gentle giants. Almost all heroes of some kind of war or an expert in martial arts, yet the kindest of hearts you can imagine.

At the end of the weekend during our reflection time, one of the other women who volunteers for GFB and is an active feminist shared that these tough guys are the ones who define a “real man.” My eyes began to swell because her words rang so true. These men, along side brave women, are our country’s protectors whether through education, across seas or in our backyard. Even though they may be big, burly and carry a mean punch, this is not what makes them real men.

No, it is when the walls are down that we see the true hero.  All of these wonderful men, and the men and women who raised them, from self-defense educators, to veterans, to school teachers, to policemen, to dads,  brothers, grandpas, best friends, to mentors, to heroes, to the social workers, to the volunteers, and GFB supporters, this one’s for you:

 “The bravest are the most tender; the loving are the daring.” – Bayard Taylor, poet.

Thank you to all the real men for leading this country and supporting women not with your pocket-knife-shave or macho puffed out chest, but with your heart.