Susan “George” Schorn (the nickname . . . it’s a long story) is a writer, martial artist, and self defense advocate. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two children, and trains and teaches at Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense. She writes Bitchslap: A Column About Women and Fighting for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her first book, Smile at Strangers: Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in May 2013. And now she’s switching to first person.

If you’re dying to see what I look like, here’s a page of videos and photos of me doing stuff.

All the organizations listed below play important roles Smile at Strangers. If you visit them online, you’ll get a glimpse of some of the people and events I’ve written about, in action.

I train and teach (currently just one class per week: White belts!) at Austin’s Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense, NFP. Now relocated from the derelict old warehouse on East Riverside where I first discovered it, Sun Dragon enjoys a clean, well-lighted, climate-controlled location in South Austin, across from the Westgate Central Market. Come visit us! If you’d like to try a class, you can do so for free. Just click through to the website and email the staff to find the right time slot for you.

Sun Dragon’s sister school, Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self Defense Center, NFP, is responsible for bringing us into the Seido family. Located in Chicago, Thousand Waves has been a Seido dojo since its founding in 1984, and like Sun Dragon, teaches violence prevention, self defense, and martial arts. Those of us in Austin travel pretty frequently to Chicago to train at Thousand Waves.

Sun Dragon is a member of the World Seido Karate Organization. Founded by Kaicho T. Nakamura in 1976, Seido now has about 20,000 students in 18 countries around the world, and is notable for its cultivation of the mind, body, and spirit, together. In addition to its demanding physical training, Seido encourages students to make a positive difference in their lives and in society at large. When I’m in New York, I usually train at Honbu, the Seido dojo on West 23rd Street.

The National Women’s Martial Arts Federation is an umbrella organization for women martial artists of all styles. For almost four decades, the NWMAF has worked to promote the involvement of women and girls in the martial arts. Their signature event is an annual summer conference and training open to all members. Sun Dragon and Thousand Waves students are always well-represented at this event.