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   Tongue Fu!® History

How this book got started.

In 1989, Dr. Ray Oshiro, a continuing education program specialist, asked me to present a public workshop on dealing with difficult people for the University of Hawaii. We had both noticed the same trend: Organizations were increasingly requesting training to help their employees learn how to cope with rude customers and uncooperative coworkers.

In creating the curriculum for this course, I realized why most people are woefully unprepared to handle difficult behavior. Conflict resolution is not taught in school along with history, math and science. As a result, people don’t know what to do or say when someone mistreats them. They often end up RIK (Retaliating in Kind) or SIS (Suffering in Silence). Neither reaction helps.

My goal was to develop real-life responses people could use immediately to handle the challenges they face on a daily basis. I didn’t want to waste time on theories. Platitudes don’t help much when someone’s yelling at you or blaming you for something that’s not your fault.

I knew I was right on track one hour into that first seminar. At our morning break, one of the attendees didn’t leave his chair. He just sat there slowly nodding his head, gazing off into the distance. I walked over and asked him what he was thinking about.

He said, “Sam, I’m a real estate broker. Several of my clients are extremely demanding and arrogant. They seem to think they can teat me any way they want, and I’m tired of it. I took this course to learn some zingers to fire back and put them in their place. That’s not what this is about, is it?”

Glad that he had grasped the essence of the course so quickly, I agreed. “You’re right. When people are being difficult, it doesn’t help to get back, get mad or get even.”

He went on: “I’m a student of martial arts. I’ve studied karate, Tai Chi, aikido, and judo. What you’re suggesting the verbal equivalent of kung fu, isn’t it?” I said, “That’s true. It’s kind of like… tongue fu!®We look at each other and burst out laughing. Eureka! The perfect name.

Since then, I’ve offered several hundred workshops for a wide variety of groups from Young President Organization executives and IRS auditors to members of the Honolulu police department. Participants have asked for a book on the subject, saying they want to take these ideas home, read them again and again, and share them with friends, family and coworkers.

An Overview of Tongue Fu!®


“There are no victims without volunteers.”               Anonymous

The purpose of kung fu (a Chinese martial art emphasizing internal development) is to defuse, disarm or deflect someone’s physical attack. The purpose of Tongue Fu!® (A mental art emphasizing internal development) is to defuse, disarm, or deflect someone’s psychological attack. It is a spoken form of self-defense--the constructive alternative to giving a tongue-lashing or to being tongue tied.

The goal of Tongue Fu!® is to learn how to conduct yourself with confidence so you keep from being abused verbally. If provoked, however, you will be able to use these martial arts for the mind and mouth to skillfully protect yourself. Never again will you have a mental meltdown and feel helpless in the face of aggression.

Tongue Fu!® is not just about handling unfair or unkind behavior. It’s more a philosophy of life, a way to communicate that can help you get along better with everyone both on and off the job. You’ll learn how to prevent conflicts and produce cooperation and how to choose to stay kind even if other are being inconsiderate or cruel.

No one enjoys dealing with difficult people, yet it is an everyday part of life. These ideas can help you skillfully disarm disagreeable people so your personal and professional relationships are less stressful and more enjoyable. You’ll learn dozens of clever, non-combative comebacks so you can speak up for yourself when people are putting you down. And finally, you’ll find out how to stand on your own two feet without stepping on other people’s toes so you can avoid being hurt or causing hurt.

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