Cordelia Clancy shares tactics taught to special agents
By Cecily Barnes
Photograph by Robert Scheer
Cordelia Clancy demonstrates a spinning elbow
to the throat with partner Mark Wightman.
Tips from Cordelia Clancy
Saratogan Cordelia Clancy saw a need for a serious
self-defense program and did something about it. Three years ago
she founded Concrete Jungle, which teaches skills and techniques
traditionally taught only to special service agents, bodyguards
and the military.
Clancy, 29, calls Concrete Jungle a self-defense
class for the '90s.
"Our philosophy is mess him up before he
messes you up," she explained. "If you're going to teach
women to fight back, you'd better do it right or they're just going
to get hurt worse."
Clancy established Concrete Jungle from her Saratoga
residence three years ago, teaching her first classes at West Valley
College. She started teaching after reading a story in the newspaper
about two teenage girls who were abducted from a 7-11, raped and
thrown off a bridge. The girl who survived, Clancy remembered,
had said she felt completely helpless and unable to do anything
but beg for her life. And the man merely laughed and threw her
and her sister off the bridge like rag dolls.
"That was such a powerful and sad story for
me; it motivated me to teach this stuff," Clancy said. "When
you're up against that mentality, you can't be doing the job halfway.
You have to take the person out. They have no respect for your
body or your life."
Using her extensive background in martial arts,
bodyguard training and various other defense tactics, Clancy constructed
Concrete Jungle from the South Korean martial art Tukong Moosul,
used in jungle warfare military training.
Concrete Jungle was designed as a serious alternative
to more traditional self-defense programs, which Clancy feels give
people a false sense of security.
"A lot of the courses out there should be
called 'How to Irritate Your Attacker.' They just don't go far
enough in showing you what to do," Clancy said. "Like
off a strangle, they show you how to break a pinky. If someone's
trying to strangle you, that's a rage crime. You can be sure they've
got their adrenaline going. Breaking a pinky is only going to piss
them off. Off a strangle, we show you how to gouge the guy's eyes,
and if you do that, you can be sure he'll stop."
And while it might sound as if Clancy's an underground
member of the militia, she and her partner Mark Wightman consider
themselves pacifists, but realistic pacifists.
"Knowing this stuff doesn't mean you're violent;
it just means you're equipped to survive," Clancy explained. "We're
vegetarians. We save bugs from the swimming pool. We don't even
like violent movies. We don't like violence, but what we teach
is a necessary survival skill of the '90s."
Clancy teaches her students how to use improvised
weapons, everyday items that look harmless but can be as deadly
as a gun.
She demonstrates how to collapse a trachea with
a notebook and to stab an assailant's throat with a pen.
Students learn precautionary safety, risk reduction
and what to do if they're actually attacked. And for the last class
and final exam, students are jumped by their gear-protected instructors
in a simulated attack, and forced to beat them off as they would
a real attacker.
"And we don't let up until they've attacked
our vital points and taken us out, until they've finished us off," Clancy
Clancy sees the final evening's feigned attack
as one of the program's most beneficial aspects.
"It's very important that they actually experience
this; that way, they don't go into shock if it actually happens," she
explained. "They take some knocks in the class, and that's
important, too, that they get conditioned. That way they won't
go into shock if they take a knock on the street."
Clancy and partner Wightman take some knocks, too,
by encouraging their students to really go for it.
"I've had my nose broken twice through the
helmet, and once I tore my knee," Clancy laughed. "And
Mark got a severe whiplash."
They've also suffered numerous bruises, minor
black eyes and fat lips. But they say the inflictions couldn't
please them more because they show that the students are truly
learning to protect themselves.
Those who have completed the Concrete Jungle class
series seem very happy with the skills they've learned.
"I can't live in a bubble and think that
nothing will happen to me," said 18-year-old Concrete Jungle
student Shayni Blanchard. "This class prepared me for the
worst thing that may or may not happen."
Shayni just graduated from Saratoga High School
and will attend UC-Santa Barbara in the fall. Both she and her
mother are glad she learned these skills before leaving the safe
nest of her parents' Saratoga home.
Concrete Jungle has taught self-defense skills
to students from all walks of life, including corporate workers,
battered women, teenagers and young children. The youngest age
group she taught was 10- to 14-year-olds at West Valley College.
"The kids were scared; they were talking
about Polly Klaas. I think they were grateful that someone was
teaching them something that could save their lives one day," Clancy
recalled. "I think it's very sad that we have to teach children
this young that stuff. I'd rather teach songs at campfires."
Clancy feels the techniques and skills she teaches
at Concrete Jungle are imperative. Her mentality is: Protect yourself
in any way necessary, even if it means seriously injuring your
"If you're about to be raped or severely
beaten or killed, you have to go on the offensive and mess the
person up before they mess you up. That's what it takes if your
life is on the line."
And since the Tukong Moosul Black Belt can't be
everybody's bodyguard, she is teaching others how to protect themselves.
This article appeared in the Saratoga News, September
©1996 Metro Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved
For more information on Concrete Jungle Self
Defense, contact Cordelia Clancy at 408-242-3806 or visit her
web site at
Jungle Self Defense
Cordelia Clancy is an Executive Protection Specialist
(Bodyguard) and a black belt instructor in Tukong
Moosul, the martial art used to train elite South Korean Special
Forces. She writes instructional articles for Black Belt and Karate
Kung-Fu Illustrated - two of the top martial arts magazines in
the world. Clancy created Concrete Jungle Self-DefenseT to train
people how to become their own bodyguards. She now trains people
from all walks of life, from students to military personnel, from
corporations to government agencies.
Tips from Cordelia Clancy