How self-defense with a black instructor changed me

All my martial arts instructors have been either white or Asian…

Except one.

Something was different about training under the guardianship of a black self-defense instructor… Mr. Tommy Chavies.

Actually, a lot was different. From Black People Telepathy to pattern recognition, to modeling, to shorthand. Quiet your minds and feel with your hearts, I’m gonna share how self-defense with a black instructor changed me.

...And read to the end to see an exciting announcement for members of Black Dads Germany.

Black People Telepathy

What is Black People Telepathy? Here’s an example...

On the streets of white society, we black folks are often either unseen or looked at with scorn.

So, when I see another black person on the street, I smile. With my eyes, I say, “I see you.” They smile back. Their eyes say, “I am here.” often with a respectful gesture.

All of this communication happens in about one second.

Not only did Mr. Chavies have Black People Telepathy with me, but he also had it with my dad (who drove me to and from training). I felt comfortable. Like I was training with an uncle. I was also the only black student, so Mr. Chavies treated me like family.

Pattern recognition

Pattern recognition is recognizing patterns you share with another person. This is often why we identify with a particular celebrity. Because they have a similar facial structure, body type, or mindset.

There was a stiffness to the movement of my white and Asian instructors. I just figured I had to make myself stiff like them. I felt like a right-handed person forced to write with his left.

Then I met Mr. Chavies, who moved with fluidity and rhythm. More like me. I realized I could embrace my natural movement. I felt relieved. Like I was finally allowed to write with my right hand.


Modeling (in Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is the process of reproducing greatness. You study how an expert does something, and use their patterns to achieve something similar.

While I trained under white and Asian instructors, it was easier for the white and Asian students to model the instructor than it was for me. That's because — culturally — they were insiders and I was an outsider.

I realized this when I began training with Mr. Chavies. All of a sudden, I was ahead of the (all non-black) class. Simply because there were things I automatically understood about Mr. Chavies’ patterns because — culturally — I was finally an insider.

Even though we were the only two blacks in class, I felt like I belonged to the dominant social group… because he was the instructor.


Shorthand is a shortened way of writing, saying, or doing something.

White and Asian cultures can be cold. But Black culture is warm. We are more expressive, louder, more colorful, both verbally and physically. In fact, movement is a language to us. One move or sound communicates an entire paragraph of information.

For example, during drilling or sparring, Mr. Chavies often used shorthand in the form of sounds or motions which — being from black culture — I understood.

A sound that meant, “That’s right. Keep going”, or “Oooh, interesting choice!” or, a look that said, “Better not do that again.” or, “time it!“

I understood this shorthand because it was stuff I’d seen or heard my parents, brothers, uncles, or aunts do. This meant I spent less time thinking about what to do than the non-blacks in class. I felt smart.

The change

The bottom line is, self-defense training with a black instructor allowed me to understand more in less time.

But I was also transformed emotionally…

Training with Mr. Chavies empowered me with feelings of comfort… Relief… Belonging… Advantage. Sounds sweet, right?

Actually, it’s kind of sad.

I realized, in my years of training before Mr. Chavies, I’d been enslaved by feelings of tension… Discomfort… Isolation… Inferiority. I'd been bound by the invisible chains of structural racism.

So, as a black person, training with a skilled black instructor didn't only empower me in the ways I mentioned… it helped me break the invisible

chains of structural racism. That's the kind of empowerment I want for you and your kids...

Special announcement

Black Dads Germany and I are teaming up!

We are now inviting Black Dads Germany members in Berlin to train in a special parent/child Nonviolent Self-Protection course at a discount, to make NSP more available to those most likely to be exposed to frightening or threatening experiences.

But it's about more than that. Family training is an opportunity to spend quality time with your kids. Learning Nonviolent Self-Protection together can create a deeper bond on mental, physical, and spiritual levels.

So bring your kid and get empowered together. Contact me on this website or DM me on the BDG WhatsApp for details.