Self-defense master Cotton Batte was born in Dallas, Texas into a working class family. His father worked as a Carpenter and his mother worked as a legal secretary. Both parents had a big influence on him and were active in guiding him into becoming the man he is today. Cotton’s “Bible-Nut” father believed in “spare-the-rod-and-spoil-the-child” and beat him with a “booger stick” constantly, often until he was black and blue with bruising. By today’s standards he would have spent time in jail for what he did to Cotton. This experience gave Cotton sufficient reason to pursue a life-long study of self-defense. By sixteen, Cotton started working for his father on weekends as a Carpenter’s helper and studying Tae-Kwon-Do under the instruction of Fred Wren in Dallas, Texas. These experiences shaped Cotton’s life and give him a sense of direction for what was important in his life.
Cotton worked in Carpentry and Tae-Kwon-Do while in the Air Force stationed in both Korea (birthplace of Tae-Kwon-Do) and the United Kingdom. He served as a crash rescue specialist and crew chief on the P-2 which was at the time, the largest fire-truck in the U.S. Air Force inventory. Cotton was eager to step into harm’s way to protect and rescue people from danger because as a boy, the first time Cotton saw a fire truck race past him he knew that when he became a man, he would be a Fire fighter.
Upon discharge from the Air Force, Cotton opened the first ever professional Tae-Kwon-Do school in the United Kingdom in April 1972. Cotton was committed to teaching students how to protect themselves from attack. He built his first school while still on active duty as a fire fighter. His first United Kingdom born student is now called “Mr. Karate” by the English press and is one of the highest ranking Black Belts in England. During his stay in Ipswich, Suffolk England Cotton met his wife Simba at his Tae-Kwon-Do school in October of 1973 and they were married on March 16, 1974 in Dallas, Texas. They now live in Texas with their current pack of dogs and are involved with and support Animal Guardians of America’s efforts to rescue animals of all types from death and destruction.
Moving back to Dallas, Texas in June 1973 Cotton started college and continued teaching and competing in Karate tournaments in Texas. He worked for a Martial Arts instructor named Larry Caster who during 1974, asked Cotton to train with the Dallas-Forth Worth Texans and compete for a spot on the first ever full-contact kick boxing team that would compete against other kick boxing teams in the United States. Cotton made the team that won a world title in April 1975 at Moody Coliseum on the SMU campus. During these years, Cotton continued working as a Carpenter while also working at the Fairmont Hotel as a bellman/doorman and attending college.
In December of 1981, Cotton moved to San Francisco, California continuing his working life as a carpenter while creating his own form of self-defense called Dance-Defense for his company Dancin’ in the Streets! His new form of movement was performing self-defense moves to a rock and roll back beat. His wife Simba assisted him in the training sessions serving as a co-instructor and role model for the women only classes. Cotton lost interest in teaching this class though because it did not satisfy his desire to teach women or girls how to kill the attacker. Dancin’ in the Streets did not create a diamond hard edge in his students which he believed was so necessary to kill an attacker when necessary. This difference between what was then and what was to become, made his system of self-defense exciting to teach and exciting to learn because it was women and girls who needed the “nuts and bolts” questions of self-defense answered.
Cotton’s enjoyed the challenge of making things out of wood of all types and solving problems that took a lot of patience to conquer. Today, after teaching women and girls for so long how to protect them Cotton knows that women and girls have made him a better teacher because they are fearless when it comes to asking questions about how to do what needs to be done in a moment of danger. Answering questions made him dig into his Martial Arts experience to create techniques that worked in reaching those women and girls who ordinarily would have quit training in Martial Arts. As of today Cotton has been studying Martial Arts for forty years on a daily basis. During that time, he has studied with many masters and feels that there is something always worth learning about how to protect the body, mind and spirit from danger.