German metal icon Doro Pesch recently went on “Side Jams with Bryan Reesman” to talk about her martial arts training, her work with animal welfare, controversy over working with PETA, and a new song inspired by her love of animals.

She spoke about how she began doing Thai boxing back in 1995, and recently she was been practicing a style of kung fu called Wing Chun. “I think it was created by a nun, and she was teaching a little girl,” she explained. “The girl’s name was Wing Chun, and she was married to a very violent, brutal guy who was always beating her up. So this nun taught her how to defend herself, even when somebody is really thin and small. I thought, that’s really nice. So when we play in clubs… in bad neighborhoods, I think I can defend myself.”

The singer has also enjoyed escrima, which is the national martial art of the Philippines. She said that it could be practiced with bamboo sticks or knives. But if a tour is coming up at the time, she opts to stay safe and just use the sticks. “At this moment, I cannot do it because there is a lockdown so all the schools are closed,” said Doro. “I try to train by myself but it’s not the same. You definitely need other people or a teacher who shows you stuff, otherwise you can get hurt.”

She recalls her classes: “Everybody wanted to train with the knives, and they’re really not very sharp, but you can get hurt a lot. It was always a special treat when he said, ‘Okay, today we train with knives.’ But you definitely had to be awake and ready. But I love it. I love to have something in my hand.”

Doro wanted to continue practicing escrima, but after coming back from a long tour she discovered that her class had dwindled in numbers then broke up.

But she feels more secure because of all the martial arts training she continues to do. “The more I train, the more I feel nothing bad is going to happen,” she said. “Because you pay attention a little bit more — where you go or when to change the streets. You have a better feel for danger, and I think that’s really, really good. You’re not so easily a victim anymore. Before people could easily do stuff because I was on the phone talking or putting on make-up. Now I look around, and that’s really good. In training, sometimes we do a fun thing, either put a scarf around your eyes or your head. Then you can’t see anything, and you just have to feel it out. That was really helpful. The other people you’re training with attack you, and you have to feel out what to do and where somebody is coming from. Your senses, your instincts are getting much more developed. You sense more stuff. That’s the best part of it.”

Doro says that her martial arts training has made her able to focus better and be more resilient on stage. “And if things don’t go well, or if I’m getting a little bit sick, I can just pull through and do a good job no matter what,” she explained. “Because you really learn when it hurts you just go ahead and do it anyway. It toughens you up in a way, and you have better stamina. Overall, it’s good. And you take care of other people. I think that was the best part. I have the feeling like you’re more a servant to others, like you’re more helpful. You’re more supportive. That’s what I learned. And I thought, that’s so cool.”

On the podcast, Doro also spoke about her love for animals. She cannot have any pets because of her rigorous touring schedule, so she helps out animal shelters and dog shelters.

“I met this cool lady,” she said. “She’s taking care of ex-race horses. Her name is Anka Dahlhaus. She’s in Germany. I met her a couple months ago. I was there and [saw] all these horses. It made me remember my childhood. I love horses. And when I was driving my car said, ‘I want to write a song about horses.’ And especially this one horse — God, he was so gorgeous. What a nice, gentle spirit. Then I wrote a song called ‘Heavenly Creatures’. That’s the work title. She’s taking care of them. Because sometimes when horses are racing, they are babies, they are one or two years old. Then when they’re a little bit older, let’s say 6 or 7 years old, then the owners don’t want them anymore or don’t take care of them in the right way. She tries to take care of them, and I help her and that makes me feel so good. It inspires me to write even more songs. Sometimes doing something else is good for going back into the studio. I love that.”

The singer also addressed her involvement with PETA.

“I did a couple of campaigns for PETA, but not everybody likes that organization as they are pretty hardcore,” said Doro. “But I think it’s better to get attention. I did it a couple of times, and then some people got so mad. And I thought, ‘Why? It’s for a good cause.’ It’s just to stop pain and suffering. But it’s a double-edged sword. I found that not all people are for it, and I couldn’t believe that.”