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The Animal List

The animal list is a fully moderated, multi-topic list about issues relating to self-defense and personal safety.

These topics include martial arts, crime prevention, self-defense, firearms, defensive tactics, women’s self-defense, psychology, criminology, philosophy and teaching. There is also chat, off topic and humor for when list members wish to discuss other topics of interest.

This list is designed as a place for information, discussion and exchange of knowledge, not to aggrandize any one person (including the moderators).

Hold on to your brains or
they may ooze out of your ears.

[Webmaster's note: The following text was submitted by one of our more...colorful... members who enthusiastically volunteered to write up a description of the list. If, after reading it, you still wish to join, then you'll probably fit in just fine.]


"Thus grew the tale of Wonderland;
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out -
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun."

--Lewis Carroll


If you're in your right mind, you're probably wondering what the hell an excerpt from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland has to do with a website and moderated forum ostensibly dedicated to self-defense issues. Well get OUT of your right mind. None of us is in his/hers. And tuck your shirt-tail in, while you're at it. You look like a wino.

That's more like it! Now that you're in a better frame of mind, we can talk a bit. The Lewis Carroll quote describes us well -- queries stated, responses coming in, discussions taking place, and all concluding with a few well-considered answers and opinions, and everyone walking away friends. Sounds different from most Martial Arts lists? You better believe it, bubba. This ain't your typical ego-defined list.

  The story starts in Venice, California during the summer of 1960, or thereabout. A wolverine got "hot'n'heavy" with a bull-shark after downing a liter of Scotch on the way home from anger-management classes, and thusly was Marc "Animal" MacYoung -- oh, sorry that was Pecos Bill or somebody. I get the story mixed up sometimes. Must be from eating those new paint-chip jellybeans.

Well, anyway, this MacYoung feller misspends his entire youth, trains in a bunch of martial arts, works security at Renaissance Faires, studies Asian and European fighting methods both ancient and relatively modern, does bouncer and bodyguard work, lands a job at a correctional facility, and seldom wastes an opportunity to get battered, bloodied and generally "field test" the accepted wisdom on both a professional and...um...personal level..

During the course of his arduous and assiduous research, our boy notices that there is MORE to violence than the synchronized popping of heavily starched, overpriced pajamas during line-drills. I - his unofficial biographer - am still wondering about all the pretty trails the heavy bag leaves as it swings back and forth... Sorry. That was just my 11:30 flashback.

Awareness. Avoidance. Prevention. Escalation. Egos. Culture. Legal ramifications. Personality traits. World-models and value-systems. Philosophy. History. Human behavior. Levels of conflict. Suddenly, the world isn't the tidy little microcosm of the dojo anymore, now is it?

Armed with these observations, questions -- and a few things he'd probably prefer I not mention -- and bored with shuttling back and forth between Phoenix and LA, (and probably equally tired of getting shot at, threatened, etc.), our hero boldy laced up his Mongolian del and was miraculously tranported to Colorado by a cyclone.

He landed atop an evil witch, and the impact broke her back and the lock on his Sky Kennel (TM). The locals mistook him for a god, and gave him all their gold, which he promptly sent back to the King of Spain, after pocketing a good bit of it.

OK, that's probably bullshit. Nah, it definitely is. I made all of it up. He may have driven or taken the bus for all I know, but MY version sounds better. And it's about as plausible as of some of the things one hears in the Neverland that is the martial arts/self defense field.

While in Colorado, he made the acquaintance of a demented serial-killer. They got married and undertook the conquest of Mars, subsequently founding the Solar Federation.

Naw, that's not right... Pardon me again. These friggin' aftershave hangovers are a real bitch. Reminds me of the time I OD'd on scouring powder and Dimetapp...Now...where was I? Oh, yeah! He met and ended up marrying a reporter/editor named Dianna Gordon, an experienced martial artist in her own right, with a reporter's instincts for bullshit-detection. The two of them decided that to properly terrorize the villagers, they should join forces, get married, and become the bane of Dojo Darlings everywhere.

OK, at this point - according the the ancient scroll of Hu Flung Pu - the only thing to do was round up some of their buddies who had made similar observations, and go online! A mysterious creature known only as "Buzz" - a creature so seldom seen that it is rumored in some circles that he does not even exist, and in others that - like Fritz Leiber's Sheelba or Ningauble - he exists partially in this dimension and partially in another, was contacted. And thusly was the Animal List born!

The list was conceived as a place in which martial artists, law-enforcement officers, military veterans, emergency medical technicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, bouncers, and in some cases just-plain riff-raff could share their observations and experiences, and in which newcomers could benefit from said, without falling victim to the various doctrines, dogmas and "package deals" so eagerly preached and pitched by strip-mall "masters" the world over.

In time the list grew and flourished, rather like untreated ringworm. In the early days, it consisted of Marc, Dianna, Marc's old cronies such as science-whizzes Randy and Justin ( I dare not use their last names, as they are Californian, and wanted throughout the galaxy for a host of egregious and despicable offenses), a few well-known members of the Paladin Press stable such as Sniper/Hapkido instuctor Alain Burrese (82nd Airborne, Korea), longtime street cop, martial arts instructor and former MP (Saigon, 1967) Loren Christensen, and a few others.

In time, it was joined by fight choreographer/DC street survivor Michael; Vietnam vet, Silat Instructor and ex-Ranger Tristan;  Newfie folklorist Jocelyne; several guys who lurked for so long that I can't rightly remember how long they've been members, and then - a few months after its inception, a filthy, paranoid-schizophrenic beer-swilling redneck with a mouth like a sewer and a mind like a Play-Doh trap was admitted, to the chagrin of all. We'll just skip that unpleasant little episode, though.

Oh yeah, and of course there's that insufferable smartass "Rasslin' " John. And former Marine/biker/bouncer/recovering oviphiliac Pancho, Australian Oppugnate instructor Ian (I didn't know they HAD sasquatches in Australia!), Wu Shu Coach and personal trainer Chimpy Nuts (don't let the name fool you--he's Belgian and really big. Don't fuck with him! ), and they just kept coming!.

In time we were joined by a Chicago-based Wushu instructor/Blues guitarist with a degree in music, a Border Patrol Officer who has since "moved up" to Federal Air Marshal, a Policeman from Blackpool, England, and a massive cast of degenerates and loonies spanning the globe from "Joisey" to Japan.

We also have EMTs, MDs, psychologists, physicists, attourneys, techie geeks, blue-collar "jus' plain folks", a chemists or two, schoolteachers, romance authors, folks with backgrounds that we just won't mention, and sexually frustrated, thirtysomething, mentally unstable, Southern male survivalist types. Uh, just forget that last part.

 Hardly an "ordinary" collection, by any stretch of the imagination.

Things become all the more interesting when you realize that you are in the company of latter-day "Renaissance men". Not a single member of this list is a "cardboard cutout". A discussion may easily shift from the interpretation of a certain kata, to military history, to a very technical discussion of weapons and weapons development, stray into physics, move into modern literature, and then end on a recipie for home-brewed libations of various sorts. Like any other living thing, this list -and its threads of discussion - change, grow, adapt and renew themselves.

Does it seem as though I'm getting personal and laying down a load of inside jokes? You're damned right I am. You see, that too is part-and-parcel of the list. Whereas it is a MODERATED - and rather sternly, at that - forum, it's also more of an online family; a rowdy clan of people from all walks of life who get together to learn, have fun, and sometimes just let their hair down and relax in good company.

And "good company" is the active term here. Etiquette is very strongly observed on the list, and the frequent teasing and bantering between members in no way implies lack of respect. Many of us have "known" each other since the list's inception, others since long before. Many of us have met each other and trained together, and many of us are very close friends.

We have celebrated weddings, cheered births, and raised a glass together from all parts of the globe. We have come together to help each other during crises or times of sorrow. We opened our hearts to each other when terrorists took over our skies. We made phones calls and wrote letters when some of our brothers went off to fight in Iraq. And we recently cheered when one of our number had -- for the first time -- legally registered a car in his name with no subterfuge whatsoever. Friendships have been forged that will in all likelyhood last a lifetime. Good company? It's like being home in Mama's kitchen.

Newbies on this list are treated a bit differently here than on most lists. They are not allowed to post until they have been lurking for bit in order to observe the list's -- shall we say "unusual"? -- social dynamic. A few newbies in the past have failed to sit back long enough ("lurk") before leaping in, much to their own embarassment. As I have no shame, I jumped right in with "Does this look infected to you?", but chances are, you ain't me. After all, it's not every man who combines the best features of Clark Gable and Gary Cooper. Well, it would be more honest to say "a man who combines the worst features of 'Jim Dandy' Mangrum and Pat Buchanan", but again, I digress.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. Middle Earth. Third time today, dammit. Gotta lay off those diet pills. In addition to the "community" and "family" aspects of the list - which was once likened to a rowdy Scottish clan - there are some very definite guidelines to be followed. They're among the few things that are taken very seriously here, but -make no mistake - they are taken very seriously indeed.

Unlike other lists, this one has rules. Rules such as: "No ad hominem attacks". Meaning you can't just say "Well, you're wrong because you just don't know!". Try again.

Rules such as: "He who asserts must prove". If you choose to state that 4,000,000 women are murdered in the U.S. each year, you had better have the NCIC statistics to prove it. If your'e going to discuss jury nullification, have a copy of your state's constitution at hand. You will be called on it.

Rules such as: " 'But everyone knows...' doesn't cut it". This is an unusually literate group, and none of us takes blind assertions with anything less than a mountain of salt. Books, periodicals and reputable websites are all fair game, as far as sources are concerned. As long as you're not presenting your material as a universal or a categorical imperative, anecdotes based on personal experience are fine, too. Many of us are "storyteller" types ourselves, and love a good yarn.

We will also gladly listen to your opinions, as long as they are presented as OPINIONS. Bear in mind, though, that like anal orfices, everyone has an opinion, so be reasonably polite when presenting yours, (your opinion, not your anal orifice - there's really no way to do that politely) especially in direct discussion with another member. It certainly helps to be sure that it's an informed opinion, too. There's a tremendous amount of "real world" experience on this list, and one does well to bear that in mind at all times.

For example, were you to say: "In my opinion, all rednecks do is boink their sisters and swill Old Milwaukee", I would have to reply: "Shows what you know, you Yankee numbnuts! We screw our cousins and swill Pabst Blue Ribbon." And I probably have more personal experience in being a redneck than you do, so I'd win hands-down. See? It's simple. And quit wipin' boogers on my fluorescent, black velveteen Elvis posters. It's nasty.

Flame wars? Never had one, and never will. Consider the moderators your own personal firewalls -- flames ain't going to get through them. You'll get a note back saying "We will not post this flame. If you wish to argue, then argue. But it better be civil or it's going to be bounced again." Repeatedly trying to flame another member is a quick ticket to getting booted. See rule number one. If an argument becomes that heated, you can either take it offlist or agree to disagree and drop the subject.  

Bantering and other humor are not merely allowed, but encouraged. This field is, after all, far too serious not to laugh at at times. All the same, use of emoticons is encouraged just as strongly.

Anyway, I could go on and on and on (and sometimes do), but I'll tell you what: why don't you just try this list out for yourself and see if you might want to hang around a while. Heck, if your brain is open, even just a teensy bit, you might find something that just leaps on in and rattles around for awhile. Unlike me, who has absolute nothing rattlin' around at all! Wait, did I just say... never mind. Just ignore me. Well, that last part, at least.

Take care,



"My hour of favor was over; I found myself lumped along with Kurtz as a partisan of methods for which the time was not yet ripe: I was unsound! Ah! but it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares."
                        -- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness