The History Behind “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)”

As I point out in the introduction, my story featured on Book View Cafe today — “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)” — was originally written as a gift for my fellow students in a self defense course.

The course — then called Model Mugging, now called Impact — uses an intensive process to teach students successful responses to attack. Not only do participants learn some practical fighting skills, including fighting from the ground, but they learn them in a way that incorporates them into body memory. Plus they learn various appropriate non-fighting techniques, from paying attention to yelling “No” instead of “Help” if you’re attacked.

Although some of the programs affiliated with Impact nationwide offer some classes for men, most of the students are women. The chief instructors are also women, but men participate by acting as “muggers” — donning huge padded protective costumes so that the students can actually kick them in the groin or gouge their eyes. The idea behind the class is not just to teach women to fight, but to show them they can fight successfully.

I took this class a long time ago, before I tested for black belt in Aikido (I’m now a fourth degree black belt, which gives you some idea how long ago it was). I knew how to fight — I’d done some karate as well as Aikido — but I lacked confidence in my abilities, even though I had once successfully defended myself on the street. This course helped me believe in myself.

One of the nice touches in the class was that we gave presents to all the other participants — it was one of those courses that builds camaraderie. Mine was this flash fiction in which the dragon’s selected victim defends herself.

That’s a concept I really believe in: We’re all capable of taking care of ourselves. In fact, my blog on the subject of self defense — somewhat neglected because I’ve been focusing on Book View Cafe of late — is called Taking Care of Ourselves.

“St. George and the Dragon (Revised)” uses fiction to spread this gospel. However, the story transcended its political purposes. This was my second published story — it appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword & Sorceress VII — and garnered not only my first mention in a review (from Publisher’s Weekly: “Nancy Jane Moore offers the feisty lass who killed the dragon that ate St. George for lunch”) but enough money in royalties to come to a very nice hourly rate for writing it. And I find that completist collectors still bring me copies of it to sign at cons.

If you’re interested in another of my fictional takes on the principles of self defense, check out my story “Survival Skills,” which initially appeared in Aikido Today Magazine and was later published online as part of an art project on violence. This story was written about ten years after “St. George and the Dragon (Revised)” and has a more sophisticated take on the subject.

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