COOL STUFF: WEBSITES I LIKE


Click on the photos to see the complete image, along with a text description.

Massad Ayoob is perhaps the world's foremost expert on the law, tools, and tactics concerning justifiable use of lethal force. I attended Mas's Lethal Force Institute I in May '05 and it was some the best training I've ever received (I'll be taking II, III, and IV, too). Here are a few photos from the course.

Mas and class May 2005 class on the range

Gavin de Becker is perhaps the world's greatest expert on the prediction and prevention of violence and the management of fear.

Blue Devil Games has published a John Rain Game. Like role playing games? Well, here's the RPG you've been waiting for: Tokyo Rain, where *you* get to be the assassin... or his prey. Check out the game here.

Green Hell†is the blog of one Dave Bean, mad scientist, moral philosophizer, linguist, free-thinker, iconoclast, survivalist, humanist.† Dave has taught himself more about gardening than you can find in most books, knows how to take care of himself in a way that few modern Americans do, and doesn't believe any of the survivalist tracts he reads until he's tested the information himself.† He's irreverent, insightful, hilarious, and unique.† Check him out.

Tony Blauer offers books, videos, equipment, and seminars all designed to help you manage violence not only with effective techniques, but through psychology, fear management, and behaviorally sound tactics. I attended Tony's Personal Defense Readiness seminar in August '04 (here are a few photos) and learned an incredible amount in three short days. I also recommend Tony's HIGH GEAR system if you want to more realistically practice and test your martial arts moves.

Sean, Tony and Barry August 2004 class

Jaime Buckley is the writer and artist behind a fantastic comic book series, "Wanted: Hero." Jaime's art harkens back to the heyday of Eerie and Creepy comics, yet his vision is refreshingly original.

Alain Burrese is the author of Hard-Won Wisdom from the School of Hard Knocks and other books and videos on self defense and fighting. Alain has a black belt in Hapkido that he earned while stationed in Korea and he's a former street brawler—definitely a man who knows of what he speaks. He's also a former 82nd Airborne sniper who shared a lot of great information with me as I set about creating former Marine sniper Dox in Winner Take All.

Dave Camarillo is an awesome technician, terrific instructor, and all round great guy. In his new book, Guerilla Jiu-jitsu, Dave weaves together his judo experience, his jiu-jitsu experience, his political philosophy, and his new, integrated grappling system. This isn't just a cutting-edge instructional book; it's also the fascinating story of the birth of a new art and the development of the mind that produced it.

Lee Child writes a thriller series about former military cop and current wanderer Jack Reacher. Reacher is a great character and the books are loaded with suspense and action. If you like John Rain, I'll bet Reacher will be your kind of character, too.

Loren Christensen is the co-author of "On Combat" and the author of numerous works on personal safety, self defense, and violence. A Vietnam veteran, retired police officer, and accomplished martial artist, this man knows of what he speaks.

Manhattan's best bartenders?† You can find them at Cuffs and Buttons!

Mike Kleindl's Tokyo Food Life is the best resource I know on Tokyo restaurants and coffee houses. Mike has lived in the city for almost three decades and loves finding the most wonderful and obscure places and writing about them. Several he's introduced me to have wound up in my books, and he's never steered me wrong. Enjoy!

Wim Demeere is a phenomenal athlete, martial artist, and teacher (and he's damn good looking, too). I take private self-defense lessons with Wim every time he visits the States from his native Belgium and always wish we had more time because I learn so much from him. Here are a few photos of the two of us training.

Wim and Barry Wim and Barry Wim and Barry

Dave Grossman is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of "On Killing" and "On Combat." If you want to understand these subjects, read Grossman's books.

International Thriller Writers is the premier organization of, by, and for thriller writers and thriller fans. I'm proud to say I attended the founding meeting and am glad to be a member.

Lawrence Kane is the author of Surviving Armed Assaults, a terrific addition to any serious library of self defense books. Its emphasis on awareness and avoidance as your most effective survival strategies makes it a worthy companion to works by authors such as Alain Burrese, Loren Christensen, Marc MacYoung, and Peyton Quinn. Kane covers enough aspects of the topic to make the book useful as an encyclopedia, and yet his prose is so readable, and he uses so many real life anecdotes to illustrate his points, that you'll have trouble putting it down. I'll be drawing on some of the lessons learned from SAA in future John Rain books.

Cody Lundin runs the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona. He teaches and writes with a rare blend of experience, common sense, and hilarious insights... think Marc MacYoung, but when it's nature arrayed against you, rather than a mugger. Check out his book "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive," and the forthcoming "When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes!"

Marc MacYoung and Dianna Gordon have built possibly the world's most comprehensive—and readable—site on personal safety. Here's a photo of Marc in a typical pose (click on the photo!).

Marc MacYoung

Rory Miller is a man who learned violence the hard way and now teaches people how to prevent it, how to deal with it, and also how to capture it properly in fiction for a lot less than he had to pay. Here’s the forward I wrote to Seven, his excellent sequel to Meditations on Violence:

There are a lot of books out there on deadly martial arts techniques and killer secrets of the ninja and the ancient principles of various lost fighting arts (I should know—I own most of them). But there aren't nearly enough books on the reality of violence: the precursors, the aftermath, and everything that happens in between. Seven is about the reality.

I've been playing around with martial arts since I was a teenager: wrestling in high school, a black belt in judo from the Kodokan, a smattering of karate, boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And I had some excellent training when I was with the CIA, too. All these systems turned out to be useful—sometimes extremely useful—when it came to the main event. But none of them prepared me for the often ambiguous lead-in to violence (like woofing), or the disorienting affects of adrenaline (like auditory exclusion and tunnel vision), or the shakes and legal complications that come after. Some of these I learned the hard way; others I feel lucky to have learned from reality-based writers like Alain Burrese, Lawrence Kane, Marc MacYoung, Peyton Quinn, and others—and now, from Rory Miller.

If you're in search of a treatise on technique, this probably isn't your book. If you want to study an ancient Asian fighting art, you'll probably want to look elsewhere. But if you want to protect yourself from violence by understanding it better—recognizing causes and signs, knowing how to deescalate, having a plan for what to do if deescalation fails, being prepared for the legal and other consequences that can come after—then Seven is the book for you. It's smart, it's thoughtful, it's even funny and philosophical. Above all, it's useful. And a damn good bargain, too, considering what Rory paid in acquiring the experience to write it.

Scott and Gumby's OnTheMat.com is the Mecca of international grappling. And they're great guys, too.

Peyton Quinn runs adrenal stress seminars that will help get your self defense moves up to speed for real world applications. I've attended two of Peyton's seminars—one on firearms, one on empty-hand—and came away hugely impressed by Peyton's approach to scenario-based adrenal stress training.

Real Judo is a great site for practitioners and fans.

Hank Shiffman is a polymath and world traveler with an interesting, insightful opinion on damn near everything.

Jeff Stone writes a terrific martial arts adventure series for young adults: The Five Ancestors. If you like the Rain books but your kids aren't yet ready for them, hook the little ones up with Jeff—they'll love you for it.

Think you've got what it takes to be an assassin?† Check out Street Wars, a three-week, 24/7 watergun assassination tournament.

Mike Suyematsu has a long history of martial arts experience—wrestling, boxing, Thai boxing, and others. He's a certified instructor of Tony Blauer's personal defense readiness principles, a great guy, and a great coach. If you're lucky enough to live anywhere near Stockton, California, shoot him an email and see if you can set up some private training so he can get a break from me.

Mike Suyematsu and Barry Mike Suyematsu and Barry

If you love good coffee as much as Rain and his creator do, you can't do better than Turtle Creek Coffee, run by master roaster Mick Carnett. My favorites: the Daterra Bourbon, in a French Press; the Ethiopian Harrar "Blue Sun;" and the Sunrise Blend. They're best of all when a deadline is looming...

Wasabi Communications does the best international online promotion that anyone could ever ask for.

Why is it that it's always the Liz Cheneys and Marc Thiessens of the world—that is, the people with no real-world experience—who want to torture terror suspects and think there's no other way to gain actionable intelligence from them? Read Matthew Alexander, a guy who's been there and done that and knows a lot better what works—and what's good for America—than the torture chickenhawks, demogogues, and drama queens will ever understand.