A few years ago I went to China with my dojo. I was one of almost 500 students that descended on the little town of Dengfeng and pretty much overran the place. One of our escorts was Master Charles Mattera, 10th degree black belt. He's getting older, and isn't as spry as he used to be, but he did a few seminars for us in the early morning, China fog/pollution, and I'll always remember two things he said.
If you're being attacked, circles and elbows are your best friends.
Sounds strange, I know, but I've never forgotten it.
Elbows are the freight train of the human body, and if you put the right power into it, you can fold a 350 pound man made of pure muscle in half, breaking ribs and leaving him with a punctured lung. And let's be honest, who wants to get hit in the face with even an accidental elbow shot?
Circles are good to do when someone has a hold of your arm or hand. They expect you to pull away, but when you make a big circle with your arm, you'll eventually get to the point where their grip is weak and you can get out of it. It's not quite that simple, but that'll do for now.
Little things. One sentence that Master Mattera spoke that I caught and then watched him prove its truth.
A few weeks ago I attended Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. Mette Ivie Harrison was my class leader for the morning classes. She spewed about a thousand gold nuggets about writing, and I tried to write them all down. At one point she took the time to go through two paragraphs of the novel I sent and literally showed me how I could make the actual writing more interesting.
That was on day one. I then spent the rest of the time noticing her using the same technique in suggestions for other people. I watched for it and now I might even understand it!
Circles, elbows and interesting writing. Keep your ears and eyes open because you never know when a master is going to give you the tidbit you need to take your writing to the next level.