Browsing articles in "How-tos and Tips"
Oct 25, 2010

Finding the "Flow" in Training and In Life


There is a sweet spot of balance between force and relaxation where you achieve your goals with total precision and minimal effort.

Lesson taken from an all-day Hand to Hand Combat seminar. We learned this lesson in the context of striking blows but, like all solid principles, it applies to all aspects of life.

When we train with clarity and have sureness of purpose as well as confidence in the universe and ourselves, the flow happens. I remember a yoga class I regularly attended in which Forearm Stand was a one of the standard class poses. Despite my efforts, I could never get up into that pose properly. Each class I would use my will to attempt the pose, usually with disappointing results. One day I approached the class with the mindset of “I will just have fun today and see where the class takes me” —- and bam, I went right up into Forearm Stand effortlessly.

Flash forward to this all-day Hand to Hand Combat seminar with top Russian trainers and I’m looking around the room at the fighters who seriously study these martial arts and feeling understandably intimidated yet unexplainably determined. I’m not a violent person by nature and I’ve always had a hard time punching. I’ve never felt as though I had a lot of power behind my punches. While working on a kinetic short range of motion strike, I was “willing” my punches to be harder, but it wasn’t happening. Regardless of the force I used, there was no power. My instructor kept telling me (in his Russian accent) to not tighten up my muscles before each punch and to just “let it happen.” Right, I thought. A yoga pose, maybe, but a punch takes force! After many futile, willful attempts I finally listened to what my instructor had told me. My punch landed so hard that the sound made ME jump.

I wish I had a magic spell for allowing myself to regularly get in the flow. I may not have that tactic down yet, but I do know that intention, training and confidence, go a long way.

Oct 22, 2010

Stay Safe: Travel tips from Survival Training experts

With the recent travel alerts for potential terrorist attacks in Europe, we wanted to make sure you get to enjoy your trip but stay safe too. While we may have featured some of these safety tips from our Survival Training experts at Stiletto Spy School, it never hurts to have a refresher and pass on the advice to your friends and loved ones. Stay safe!

Before you Leave: 


— Create a file with a copy of everything you usually carry in your wallet or purse (e.g. driver’s license, credit cards, passport, etc.)  If your purse or wallet is stolen, you will know exactly what was lost.   

— Never carry your Social Security card. 

— Always keep a backup of contacts and other important information stored in your cell phone.  You may also want to keep this information in a safe password-protected file online.  This way, if you are traveling, you can access the information remotely and immediately. 

— As a secondary precaution, make a copy of your itinerary and your ID/Passport and leave it with a family member or close friend.


At the Airport: 


— Check in and get through security as quickly as possible.  The safest part of the airport is past TSA, not in the main lobby area.

—  Always request an aisle seat on the side of the plane that allows your strongest arm to be toward the aisle.  If something unforeseen happens on the plane, you will have the best advantage possible.


When you Land: 

— Use authorized cab services at the airport. 

— Never share a cab with strangers and never accept the first cab that is offered to you, particularly if you are traveling alone.  In fact, depending on the city, hour and whether you are traveling alone, you may find it best to let the second cab go as well and take the third cab.  Why?  It makes it less likely that your driver will have planned anything nefarious.


Cab Safety: 

— Before you get into the cab, try to notice something identifying about the cab (a number, cab company, color and make of the vehicle, etc.) 

— Once inside, engage the driver in conversation and ask his name. 

— Once you are on your way, pretend to (or actually) telephone someone local and speak loud enough for the driver to hear you.  Confirm that you are in a cab and on your way and that you should be there within ____ minutes.

— Tell them the cab description and the driver’s name and to keep an eye out for the car.  Repeat that you look forward to seeing them in a few minutes. 

— If the driver had any intention of doing something shady, this will put him on notice that you are likely not the best person to mess with.


At the Hotel:


— At check in, if you are traveling alone, make sure that they do not say your room number out loud as they hand you the room keys.  It is policy in many hotels to follow this rule, but if they do not, don’t be shy about asking for a supervisor and requesting a room change…

—Request for a room that is on the 4th floor or lower and near the emergency exits.

— Whenever in your room, always lock the door and engage the secondary chain or latch bolt.  Front desks are famous for inadvertently giving two different guests the same room.  You do not want to be surprised by an unexpected visitor.  These types of room mix-ups can also happen on purpose.  Either scenario can be avoided by securing the door with more than the automatic lock.

— Never leave valuables in your hotel room.  Valuables include jewelry, cell phones, laptops , cameras, etc..  Even the nicest hotels can have theft problems. A common scam is for a well dressed person to convince a maid that they locked themselves out and have the maid open the door – to your room.




— Try to keep as little in your purse as possible.  Do not keep your cash, ID or credit card in your purse. If your purse is stolen, you will not be able to access cash immediately.  If you don’t want to wear a money belt, here is a brilliant way to keep these items in your bra.  

—While you’re more familiar with ’911′, keep in mind that ’112′ is the European Union’s emergency number while other countries in Asia use ’999′ instead. Here’s a quick reference guide just in case.


EXCLUSIVE — Top 10 Things for Urban Survival:


Here are the Top 10 Things for Urban Survival you should have in your handbag/backpack that will help you deal with any emergency disaster situation. Remember to keep items small and portable and while you won’t be able to bring a small knife onboard a plane, you are still permitted to check it in with your luggage.

1. Small folding knife that can be carried concealed
2. Small, but intense flashlight (100+ lumens) with crenelated bezel
3. Para cord
4. $100 cash in twenty’s carried somewhere besides your wallet
5. Cell phone with small “jump start charger”
6. Lighter or other fire making device (e.g. firesteel)
7. Medication you require (3 days supply) plus benadryl, iodine tablets, and ibuprofen.
8. Space blanket
9. Credit card
10. Card with next of kin information/contact points.




These are just some of the tools and tips you can expect to learn on a mission with Stiletto Spy School. All of our expert instructors come from incredible backgrounds and are the top professionals in their fields such as Awareness Training, Breath Control, Hand to Hand Combat, Poker Skills, Precision Shooting, etc. Find out more at our website.

Oct 22, 2010

Lessons in Opening Up to Receive Love

agent 33 here with a cool story i would like to share. 

earlier thisyear, i led a new york stiletto spyschool mission.  the women were diverse in background, age, per

sonality and motivation for attending spy school.  after learning how to shoot, slice and  dice and bump and grind, we circled up  and raised a glass to celebrate their accomplishment. 

as we discussed the bigger lessons learned that day we went around the circle and each person shared a compliment she recently received.  one of our agents (we will call her “s.d.”) looked at me and said, “i’ve been trying to come up with a compliment but i can’t think of one.  i guess i don’t get a lot of compliments.”  i thought to myself, “surely, she must get compliments and is just not recalling one at the moment,” and then said, “i will give you a compliment,” and proceeded to do so.  without prompting, two of her stiletto sisters also offered up a compliment, which i thought was awesome!

flash forward a few weeks.  we always ask women to share with us what they got most out of spy school and how they apply it in real life. some women share the most inspiring stories of how their training motivated them to make a decision or take an action, and the positive results that resulted from it.  well, i recently got such an email from s.d.

i could paraphrase it, but i think her words are more powerful:

“after the ny exercise when we had to share a recent compliment that hadbeen given to us (and i couldn’t think of one to share), i went back to workand put up a huge sign announcing my upcoming birthday.  i told everyoneif they had any reason at all to be thankful for my presence on earth, mybirthday was the day to tell me. 

i was overwhelmed by gifts and sentiments of appreciation.  my friendsplanned treats (lunch, dinner, presents, etc.) every day of my birthday week!

so i learned a good lesson that maybe i need to open up a little, and let people know that i need love.”

yes, indeed, we all need love.  when i read s.d.’s email, i got a little choked up.  i think we all put up barriers of different sizes for different reasons in different areas of our lives.  when we are brave enough to break one down and let people in, we might just be surprised at how many show their love.

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