Another Page in the Book of Knowledge – Tim Boehlert

When we discuss the many and varied aspects of violence dynamics, including preferences, techniques, styles and more, we should also keep a few key points in mind:

[01] Violence is different with every encounter. What worked once, may not work in a similar situation somewhere down the road, which effectively forces you to pick alternative responses, preferably before-hand, and no matter who you are or how good you give yourself credit for being. Don’t believe your own story, that’s the first thing that will get you in trouble.

[02] Limiting what you learn may be a great choice, but it could also cost you. For instance, if you choose to limit your exposure or your training for only specific types of encounters, you’ll come up empty when that doens’t happen, but ‘this’ does.

Perhaps you should consider reading more about the differences between possible and probable events, and change your training, or modify it to the most likely (probable) scenarios primarily, but not to entirely discount the other possibiltiies?

[03] Violence in the form that most of us will encounter is going to be social-based, and not asocial violence. Thus, your goals may be merely to set social status, or to protect property, or maybe even to send a message/threat, implicit or otherwise that “it would not be wise to cross this line” or some such similar reasoning.

[04] Having a weapon on your person at the time of any encounter may determine to a judge/jury an outcome that you didn’t expect, foresee or plan for. Think of how others will see your actions – “You planned it.” Thus, a pre-mediation factor creeps in by the other sides legal team. And again, you need to understand your laws, because I can guarantee you that the arriving officials may not, and/or do not understand the laws concerning the UOF and threat of UOF when displaying/brandishing as an example a ‘pocket knife.’

I will give you an example of how and why my path differs from yours. In one of my jobs in a Security force function, we had to follow policies (those of the institution – the employer.) We were never allowed to strike, kick or throw anyone. Now if you’d already learned your ‘art’, a lot of your go-to options have effectively been taken off the table. What now? You’ll spend a lot of time un-learning everything you know about your MA or your combatives training.

We were also limited in our responses and options by local, state and federal laws. Have you got any familiarity with any of the typical laws regarding the use of force in your community? If you do, that’s a good start. Now, throw in dealing with a vulnerable population – the homeless, those with substance abuse issues, those with mental health diagnoses, those showing altered mental status (AMS) symptoms – which could include some of the above, but also consider the autistic, those with dementia and those with alzheimers disease.

Now, add these restraining factors:

[a] You are being watched and recorded in almost every interaction – by the institution, and many times by the public. And while the institution may back you up in your response, the public likely won’t. Why? because violence is ugly, no matter who you are. And the only way that you can even approach ‘getting it’ is by studying it, doing it and learning from it all, good and bad.

[b] You could be reprimanded, suspended, fired, sued or some combination of all of these possible ‘disciplinary’ actions. And then there may be the media exposure…

[c] There’s also a toll you pay – with every, single transaction. With some, you may feel confident beyond a doubt that your use of force (violence) was justified. but with many events, you’re going to question what you did, how you did it and more, if not now, based on how your work develops and the amount of support or lack of support that you receive along the journey. Unfortunately, you still need to make your own choices with almost every encounter. The toll may be feeling guilty, or bad, but another cost is in your future performance factors – will you step up the next time, will you throttle back your response stance for better or worse? Again, these are personal choices based on several factors – the law, the policy, your moral compass, the views of your peers, the views of the public or other employees that surround you.

[d] There are also environmental factors that need to be considered, maybe specifically in my model, but I’d say likely in yours as well. As a much used training example: after hitting another combatant, he goes down, and hits his head on a curb. He dies as a result of his injuries, and your actions. Your life as you knew it ended when he died.

Now of course there are times when you may have no worries, but I can’t think of a specific one at the moment. Even as an employee, whose job description cites protecting property and the public in/around your facility, and even if he’d pulled a knife on you, and you may have legal grounds to justify your actions, it’s not over – not by a long shot. Knowing your environment may convince you to re-think the options you choose to deploy in all or most of your actions. Sometimes that’s not possible, but you may have to plan that into your ‘threat response kit.’

Violence is an ugly option, but it’s also a necessary one when dealing with violent people. The only outcome should be in your favor, and in conjunction with all of the legal and moral lines that we all typically follow and/or are held to. There are more mental aspects to dealing effectively with violence than there are physical aspects perhaps, but years of study has shown me that, and your experiences may be different. One quote that I learned early on was: “to stop a violent act, you need to be better at violence than they are.” For me, that set the tone of every encounter. It started the ‘conversation’, helped set my mindset when ‘the dance sequence’ began, and added confidence at the beginning of every dance.

I dealt with hundreds of acts of violence over the years that I was active, and I can honestly state that I never had a plan other than to end it in my favor. I never used more than a few go-to techniques. I transitioned into control after the ‘attack’ with no abuse, no ego issues, and no threat of retaliation or to punish. It was never about punishment. When it was over, it was over – not personal, just a business transaction between two parties that didn’t view the transaction in the same terms you might say.

I can also state that I dealt with a varied population – MH patients, family members, friends and acquaintances, but also substance abusers, those at risk, child molesters, murderers, rapists, thieves, juveniles, men, women, transgender ad all of it’s associated labels and children. They all had one thing in common – they were all violent. The one takeaway for me is that it was a great learning time, with either willing or unwilling participants that all had one thing in common: they knew how to use violence. It mattered just a little about why, but you need to let that go too. Rather than to reject their reasoning, or to argue about it, you just need to embrace the fact that you may not change their minds, and when it’s time, it’s time. You need to pick the when, where and how. Everything else is open for discussion, but perhaps afterwards.

I’ve even had to address other Martial Artists. I had one technique that I used under those circumstances. It never got physical, despite their sometimes impressive attempts to convince me that I was not going to be able to stop them because of their knowledge, which was scary during more than one encounter. Any Martial Artist has this knowledge, and knows what my solution was. There was of course a backup plan, and that was just too easy – it makes me smile to think about it, because might isn’t always right. And that is a technique too.

Give choices – it MAY work… A lot of social violence is about saving face – learn that. Respect goes a long, long way, even when it’s not deserved or earned.

Learn to actively listen without feeling the need to respond – immediately at a minimum. Most of us listen half-heartedly while we are formulating a response. STOP doing that! Be conscious of it when you are doing it, and work at getting better at not doing it in the future.

Expand your vocabulary, expand your training potential, expand your capacity for discovering that you’ll never know it all, you’ll never be the best, or undefeated even. Embrace the possibilities, educate yourself, and share.

This knowledge, my knowledge, is specific, to and for me, because I know what worked for me. I wasn’t ever the best, but I was never the worst. I was effective, and had only a few close calls where it could have gone the other way, but the social aspect of the struggle was on the table and in play, to my advantage. I was maybe the most studied. I continue to learn, and expand my horizons and educate others based on my knowledge and experience, because it can make a difference for someone, somewhere – you’ll never know.

The book of knowledge is deep, and it needs to be shared.

Becoming A Contact Professional – Tim Boehlert

Part 2

Rory I found probably through Marc, or maybe Loren Christensen – I can’t recall specifically. I am immediately drawn to Rory because of what he does or did. He was working with the safe ‘clientele’ that I was, with the main exception being that he was in a prison setting. Without hesitation, I recommend him to all LEO, or Security professionals because his experience is directly related to what I do. Marc’s is as well, just from a different perspective. Rory was writing a blog at the time I ‘found’ him. Large parts of that blog became the first e-books that I purchased – Chiron Training. After reading the very first volume I was hooked. Here was I guy that I totally ‘got.’ I can’t tell you why in so many words, but he ‘spoke to me.’

In one of his blog/e-book entries Rory describes a ‘typical’ day on his unit. He was asked to respond to an inmate that was acting out in his holding cell. Rory headed a CERT team, and his job was to move this individual after subduing him using whatever level of force was necessary. The inmate had already made preparations for the soon-to-happen assault by unusual means. Rory’s team was prepped, kept just out of sight while he chose to offer an alternate solution before breaching the cell. In a moment of genius (and Rory really is a very deep thinker) he chose to keep the team out of sight, but ready to perform a cell extraction by overwhelming force. He pulled up a folding chair about 6 feet from the cell door, and simply sat down, crossed his arms, and waited… NOW, go find that story and learn from it what I learned. What happens next is sure to change your world like it did mine – if it doesn’t, you’re either in the wrong job, or you already possessed that knowledge and foresight, which frankly I find hard to believe. Thank you Rory.

Peyton Quinn – another of the unknowns. He is a character every bit as much as Marc is. THEY are two of the originators of what this group has been assembled because of. Violence. I have known Peyton for about as long, and did find him through my connection with Marc. Another book. Suffice it to say that Peyton is as unique as any of these commanders of violence. Peyton is also a Martial Artist, a rogue of a man with a huge heart, and some really intense depth of knowledge as well. He’s an educator, a writer, and he knows his stuff as well. He’s also willing to pass this stuff on. About four years ago I had the pleasure of working on a few projects with Peyton. Specifically a book that he was writing at the time about Musashi’s Five Rings. Peyton asked me to read it, and help him out with some editing, which I did out of respect, friendship, and admiration. Thank you Peyton.

There are many others here that have helped me along the way, and I am very thankful for all of those contributors as well. What I do is not unique, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone talking about let alone teaching what it takes to get out unscathed. I can only say that in 7 years, I have been assaulted more, hospitalized more, hurt more both physically and verbally, than in my entire previous life. Without the support of these proponents and educators, without their output, their advice, their willingness to share the ugly, I wouldn’t be writing anything remotely like this at all. I’d either have quit a long time back, been injured and beyond repair OR worse. It’s not an easy job, not just anyone can do it either – even if you are physically able to – and most of the young ones are that at least, it takes a LOT of maturity, it takes a lot of drive, it takes a lot of deflective capability to do this job to serve your community, and your fellow man. You have to do this job because you care, not because it pays well – it’s not even worth it for that alone. I do it to make a difference, to feel better as a human being, and because someone has to deal with people in crisis, period.

If you’re up to it, do the research UP FRONT. If you can get through several of the steps necessary to educate yourself, and still thin positively about it, MAYBE you’re the right person. MAYBE.

Becoming A Contact Professional – Tim Boehlert

I have been doing Hospital Campus security for 8+ years. When I signed on, I immediately undertook a journey into darkness. I found out within a year that I was going to need all the help I could find elsewhere. To that end, I am not a professional Martial Artist in the strictest sense. I learn from the traditional and modern martial arts. I pick and choose those pieces that I know I can use, and I know that I can justify and defend in a court of law. I train and educate myself as too many have excuses not to do so.

For the last 8 years I have sought out a different type of education and a group of professionals that ‘have-been-there-and-done-that’ – a small group of talented trainers, educators, teachers. Not everyone that deals with violence in our profession can articulate or try to explain the what, why and how of things. I trust ALL of the people in CRGI for that, as well as some other like-minded professionals from other areas of expertise – LEO, Corrections, Military trainers.

In this group I totally support and endorse Marc MacYoung, Rory Miller, Peyton Quinn. They were my first clue as to what was out there, and how I was going to deal with it successfully.

What I can bring to the table is dealing with violence in a health-care setting. The way I see it, I deal with the same people that Rory did during his career as a Corrections Officer, but from a different set of guidelines – no in-house training, no support, no weapons, no first-strike capabilities, no striking/kicking/chokes etc., no backup, no staff support most of the time, no real outline of rules, lots of cameras and lots of Monday-morning-quarterbacking AFTER the fact. In short, not a job anyone in their right-mind would take knowing all of these limitations going in. Add to that starting out at 52 years old. Getting the picture now?

So, I can share a lot of stories and examples of things that I have experienced dealing with those people that live alternate lifestyles – drugs, alcohol, abuse etc. Dealing with the physical may be the easiest aspect of this type of job, dealing with the verbal aspect IS one of the hardest, yet most rewarding aspects.

Marc MacYoung once told me that I’d already shown him enough ability with the physical aspects of the job, and he recommended getting more training on the verbal aspect – great advice. To that end, and at the time he and Rory were pairing up on a new concept – Conflict Communications is what they were going to call it. It was going to be a traveling seminar road-show, maybe a book, maybe a DVD. CRGI is one end-result of those years of collaboration by two of the BEST minds in the business of violence.

I own almost every book that Marc has produced, but not too many of his DVD’s – most of his early work was only accessible via VHS tapes. At first, reading Marc’s output was challenging. Not because it was difficult to read, but it WAS difficult to read from a ‘normal’ perspective. I had no real introduction to violence previous to taking this job. I’d led a fairly safe life – due in part to being white, middle-class, and non-violent as my norm. We’ve all seen a lot of violence, particularly of late, but in our previous adult years and teenage high-school years as well. What we were particularly not aware of though was REAL violence. The kind of violence that the mere mention of gives us concern. We don’t want to hear about it, know about, and especially see it or experience it.

Marc started to open that dark cellar door for me. SO, reading his stuff WAS difficult. Not knowing him personally, and reading how cavalier some of his thoughts were WAS disturbing to me. Kind of like sidling up next to a group of bikers – you WANT to hear some of it, but hope they won’t notice you’re eavesdropping in on them. That’s what my first couple of Marc’s books felt like. “What kind of guy DOES this shit, and then writes about it? How’d he get away with THAT?” Well, that’s how it started. Marc admittedly came from a rough up-bringing, turned his life around, and then chose to educate others that could appreciate, learn from, and stay safe based on his lessons.

Thank you Marc.

Part 2 will be in the March issue of Conflict Manager.

Training ‘Tools’: Does What You’re Using Make Sense? – Tim Boehlert

In a recent post of an Active Shooting seminar, I’d seen an image where one attendee was role-playing and holding a ‘typical’ yellow rubber Beretta 92F style Martial Arts-style training pistol.

One person had asked what it was and I pointed out what I thought I knew about that specific model. I mentioned a few other more realistic options that I’ve used in different training seminars and explained that it depended on the goal of the class as to how effective this prop would be.

What really struck me though was another comment that some of the attendees “might be concerned if there was a more realistic prop.”

After pondering this response, it got me to thinking – is this really a useful seminar or are we actually watering down the seriousness of the subject matter by introducing standard Martial Arts training tools – rubber guns or knives. Are we trying too hard to whitewash violence here? Is it responsible to train others in this serious subject matter without being as realistic as possible?

It came to me that maybe this prop wasn’t the ‘proper’ tool for the job, at least not nowadays and maybe specifically for this class. I am assuming that this was an Active Shooter Scenario in a class of the same meant for a group that would likely encounter an active killer. In the ‘industry’, the term Active Shooter is going away – slowly – but it’s going away and being replaced with Active Killer, at lest by Law Enforcement or in LE circles. A good start to get away from the whitewash, feel-good, limit-our-liability practices that I’m seeing around active killer events and the requisite follow-up training that is hastily thrown together for a buck.

What piqued my interest was the thought that maybe we ought NOT coddle our audiences. It’s akin to teaching Martial Arts as self-defense — one is about sport, the other is about survival. If we’re teaching others how to survive during an active killer event, wouldn’t we be doing our audiences more harm by being ‘polite’ than by showing them the realities of such an event in a realistic manner, or as realistically as we can in a classroom? Sometimes you just need to take off the kid gloves and put on your big boy pants.

Should we consider using at least more realistic training tools – like Airsoft handguns and long guns, and maybe aluminum knife trainers vs. their counterparts, the rubber feel-good ‘polite’ solution tools?

I’m suggesting that both tools do not hold equal value in this educational arena. In fact, I feel that using the more realistic replicas has MORE value than playing to the ‘polite’ notion of ‘not offending’ participants. Violence is ugly, and no one really likes to talk about it. An active killer event is likely the worst anyone will ever experience, and yet we’re afraid to offend someone that is attending a class to learn how to survive this type of event, really?

We are training these attendees how to survive a deadly encounter – gun or knife, and yet we’re refusing to look at the realities of what that encompasses. Why not at least expose them to something that is at least a bit more realistic. Remove the fear and misunderstanding, and try to use it as a teaching moment. Imagine being able to show attendees HOW to disarm a pistol by demonstrating how to remove the magazine from the pistol! Many of these alternate modern training weapons are designed to demonstrate many functionalities of their real-life counterparts. Semi-automatic pisol slides that move, safeties that actually work, removable magazines, moving triggers and even working takedown mechanisms.

In classes and seminars that I have attended, we’ve used both. It wasn’t an issue, and for those not intimidated by a gun specifically, they proved to be more valuable teaching and learning tools – they’re so realistic that they LOOK like real guns (if you ignore the BRIGHT RED muzzle) and often function nearly identical to the real thing. They are also made of metal and plastic, and some can even fire 6mm pellets. In fact, in some Police Academies they use Simmunition – about as realistic as it can get and still be mostly safe for the participants. Yes, they use an extra layer of safety measures, including special body covering, goggles, gloves, etc…

I think it’s time to address the watered-down A.S. classes and step-up up our game. If we’re going to teach about violence in this manner, it should be as realistic as we can safely make it. If we don’t, we fail our students. It should be responsible – we’re not selling fear, and should not be. It’s not and should not be about purchasing the advanced class(es).

I can share that I was on an Active Shooter committee for a large regional facility. I asked the hard questions. My goal was that whatever we wanted to put out there to my fellow employees had to be as complete and realistic as possible, but it also had to be responsible. As an example the facility chose to run with the new FEMA offering – Run, Hide , Fight. Bullshit. Still is. That’s not just my opinion, it’s what we were told at some other government-funded training that I had attended on my own dime. Think about that feel-good slogan being provided to our citizens. Sure, it might work, but if you don’t show people HOW/WHERE/WHEN and give them the TOOLS, you’re blowing smoke up their asses. And that is being irresponsible.

If you want to flesh it out, you need to provide the proper tools – posted maps: trained and drilled – where to run. It’s different for everyone, so be responsible and demonstrate, discuss, drill those routes and avenues of escape if  escape is possible as your first or only option.

Hide – where? What is an effective hiding spot, and how effective is it? Show them how to barricade-in-place. Show them how to improvise and barricade.

Fight – really? Okay, HOW? What will be effective? So many options once again. And remember, there are all kinds of people without my skills or your skills perhaps, so how do we train them and what do we train them that will work for them?

There is no single solution, and thus a slogan is nothing more than empty, feel-good bullshit marketing. See it for what it is. The only reason they put shit like this on your training sign-off is for their liability. “Look, he signed it right here and attended our seminar…” Don’t be stupid. That is ALL it is – a sign-off for liability reasons. CYA at the insitutiona level.

So next we were told by the chairman of our commitee that “it will likely never happen here. The chances are better of you getting hit by lighting more than once today.” O.K. More bullshit. In my opinion, he’s dead wrong and should have known better, and been more responsible for thise he was responsible to protect and I’m just not that stupid to think otherwise.

Next they wanted to sell us plastic covering for the windows. Oh, that’s awesome! You have found a bullet proof glass solution for those of us at the front doors? Well, no, it won’t stop bullets, in fact they will pass right through, but the glass wont go everywhere, so when the HEROES come rushing in, they won’t slip and fall on it or get cut by it. Basically, I’ll still be dead, but I guess that’s considered acceptable. Not by me it’s not, and boy is my family going to be pissed when they find this out!

You get the point? There are still professionals out there selling products and services based on fear and income-boost based on that fear. It’s NOT responsible by any measure. And it’s not alright by me.

Look deeper. Educate yourself.

How to Stay Safe in the Age of Terrorism – Avi Nardia & Tim Boehlert

This 10 Question interview originally appeared in Black Belt Magazine, but has been edited by Tim Boehlert at the request of CRGI staff. We first published it back in 2015 but feel that as attacks are on he increase, poticularly from lone wolf terrorists using low tech weapons, it was time to repring it.

Q: Should the average person be worried about lone-wolf terrorist attacks?

A: Terror cells, like the Boston Marathon bombers, that are not connected by anything other than ideology will become increasingly common. In some ways, lone cells are more dangerous than organized terrorism because lone cells are difficult to monitor, control or discover. The more we go after the larger terror organizations, the more they will split into smaller cells. This is exactly what has  happened with the drug cartels.

Q: Do you think the Internet is becoming the prime tool for terrorist organizations to recruit lone wolves in any part of the world?

A: Yes, the Internet is a major tool today for recruiting, teaching and spreading terrorist ideologies around the globe. The Internet can be used to traffic information and gather intelligence, and as a meeting place for finding others with the same ideas. It’s very easy to create fake accounts, use them while they are viable, then disappear – maybe completely. Terrorists are becoming increasingly tech-savvy.

Q: Are there any parallels between how terrorists recruit lone wolves and how gangs recruit members?

A: Terror groups share the same mentality as gangs — exploiting hate, spreading anger and practicing brutality. Terrorists also practice the same indoctrination techniques as gangs. Using ideology to ‘persuade’ others that are malleable has been highly effective.

Q: As high-profile targets get extra security, is there an increased likelihood that soft targets — and civilians — will be attacked by lone wolves?

A: Nowadays, we are seeing sick people understand that the more brutal their methods, the more media exposure they gain. As governments and sensitive targets continue to invest in more security, we will begin to see more and more independent terror attacks on soft targets such as bus stations, schools and any place that will instill fear into the public. Terror’s main goal is to create an atmosphere of fear, for control purposes.

Q: In light of all this, what measures can people take to stay safe?

A: Citizens need to push for government to be less tolerant of terrorist ideologies. We also need to educate the public and law enforcement on terrorists and terror culture. It seems to me that people have too much tolerance for terror — sometimes even the police are more strict on normal civilian criminals than on terrorists who walk free among us. One must study and understand what terrorism is before we decide how to fight it. People must understand how terror feeds from the media.

Q: Is increased awareness the most important precaution a person can take?

A: Awareness of who lives around us is important, but it is also important that we protect our freedom from pervasive surveillance and a society wherein anyone could frivolously call the police and have a person arrested. Security and surveillance must be approached in a measured manner. We are seeing instances of abuse as a result of increased surveillance daily it seems.

We should demand more security in schools for our children. In and around our homes, people need to take it upon themselves to study and train in counterterrorism. You are the first responder, not anyone else, and if you always rely on someone else to arrive, they might be too late. We need to take responsibility for our own safety – at hime, at work, on vacation even. Simple things can make a difference.

Q: Do you recommend that people consider lawfully carrying a firearm — assuming they have an interest and have had the proper training?

A: It’s easier to carry a gun in a bag than to carry a police officer. If most normal civilians carry firearms, it will reduce crime as well as terrorism. Switzerland is an example of a country where most civilians own guns, and it’s one of the safest places in the world. People need to take more than just the standard 8-hour course as prescribed in many states. They should know how to use it, how to clean it, how to clear jams. They should know how to shoot in low-light, how to re-load, with either hand.

In Israel, firearm owners must complete 50 hours of training every year to hold a permit. We have seen many situations wherein the first responders were normal civilians who defended and stopped terrorists before any police cars showed up. We also have civilian police volunteers who get training by the police and carry police identification cards. These volunteers patrol sensitive areas and help prevent crime and terrorism. In my system of Kapap, we teach firearms, CPR, surveillance and counter-surveillance as part of our Martial Arts. This training develops awareness and the ability to effectively respond in emergency situations.

Q: How useful could a knife be in the hands of a trained martial artist who’s facing a lone wolf terrorist?

A: Knives are effective weapons and very important to study. The only problem is that it’s hard for a person to use a knife in a real situation. The knife is not a simple weapon unless you are well trained, and overcoming the psychological barrier of fighting with a knife is difficult for most people. People need a lot of training to overcome training that they’ve had since childhood – “Be Nice!”, “Don’t hurt them!”, ” Don’t be rude!” etc. These are simple examples of how we are taught to be courteous and kind, even when facing violence. To overcome this pre-conditioning takes a lot of specialized training. We need to learn to give ourselves to BE RUDE, to strike first – preemptively.

I would also recommend learning about the gun before learning about the knife. Nonetheless, knives are great weapons and are readily available — e.g. in the kitchen. Improvised edged weapons, such as a broken bottle, are also great for self-defense.

Q: How is fighting a person who’s willing to give his life for a cause different from fighting a mugger, a gang-banger or a rapist?

A: Most criminals are not ready to die. That simple fact makes self-defense easier because even rapists and other criminals are just looking for easy victims. Terrorists look for any victim, and therefore anyone is a potential target. Terrorists may fight to the death, which makes the fight very difficult to finish. This is why guns are better to carry than knives. A knife will also require one to be close to the threat, whereas a gun allows one to fight from behind cover. There’s a huge mindset difference. One’s goal is to get resources from you – cash, jewelry, sex. The goal of the terrorist is completely different.  Both may treat you as less than human, for different ‘needs’ to be fulfilled.

Q: Realistically, what chance does an unarmed martial artist stand against an armed terrorist?

A: The first rule is to never give up — regardless of whether you are unarmed and the attacker has a weapon. You should always maintain your awareness and carry your hand-to-hand skills, as well as your gun-disarm skills. Assuming that an attacker does not have a gun can be a deadly mistake.

Avi Nardia is a a former hand-to-hand combat instructor for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Reserve, the Israeli counter-terrorism unit YAMAM and the Israeli Operational Police Academy. He teaches the martial art of Kapap, as well as Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Krav Maga. Kapap is also being taught around the globe through a network of affiliated schools. Avi has produced a series of DVD’s through multiple vendor sources such as BUDO.

What is “Weapon Retention? – Dan Donzella and Tim Boehlert

Weapon retention is described as protecting, while carrying, any weapon such as a firearm or knife from someone that willfully attempts to take it by force from you. For law enforcement it’s a course taught for keeping in your possession your firearm in or out of your holster.

Over the years firearms and holsters have changed dramatically. Up until recently holsters merely secured a firearm only via a button, a piece of leather or with nothing at all. So with this understanding early weapon retention training had to be purely preventative and defensive only, for example, by placing both of your hands on your firearm and holster to keep it in your possession when grabbed by an attacker. Even with today’s high-tech secure holsters this method is still being taught.

In 2007 a new larger regional Police Academy was being created in my hometown. The Captain in charge of this project realized that an upgrade of the Defensive Tactics course was needed. Since the Department was changing their choice of firearm and holster, a new weapon retention course would be needed. I was given the task for the new course. At the time I was teaching a patrol and a traffic unit, so I teamed up with the head of the patrol unit. He’d acquired the new firearm and holster, as both were not issued yet.

The new retention course would be taught when the new equipment was issued at the academy and during ‘in-service’ classes. I looked over the existing course and knew that we’d have to start over from scratch. Since the new holster was very secure, we’d all agreed to create a more offensive-minded course.

I worked on a simple, but very effective technique to defend against having the weapon being grabbed, from every angle and while in the holster or out of the new holster. It was very well received; the officers responded well and liked the new concept. I am very proud to say that an officer who’d just completed the in-service retention class had had a firearm drawn on him, and he was able to use one of the techniques to disarm his assailant.

As a result of this one incident, other doors were opened for me at the department. I began retooling the Defensive Tactics curriculum as well. Working with patrol, traffic, and S.W.A.T. units and even helping officers with testifying in court cases, but I’ll save that for another article.

Let’s change gears and talk about civilian carry issues.

Unless you’re in a state that allows open-carry, most likely you won’t be using a retention holster. Carrying your weapon concealed is to your advantage. No one should know you are carrying. Using, drawing or showing your firearm is the last thing you want to do. Always be on your best behavior, follow all the laws of your state, do your homework, research your state laws. Be aware too that even county laws in your state can be different.

Having the right and ability to carry concealed firearms comes with immense responsibilities. You will be expected to know the law, to understand the circumstances where you may be breaking the law – i.e. by carrying your weapon into certain buildings: government agencies, institutions of higher education, or onto school grounds as a few examples. You have the responsibility of knowing your weapon intimately. You should train on and off the range. You should learn empty-hand skills as well, especially since you don’t have a secure retention holster.

Your offensive response has to be more aggressive, quicker and more precise. I also teach how to use your firearm as a punching, pushing, cutting and locking weapon. You may need to make space, or where you weapon is jammed or even empty. “Cover all your bases” as we say in the United States. Think out of the box and above all be creative. There’s nothing wrong with carrying a knife as back up, especially in a grappling situation. And again: research the laws, and get proper training.

Most officers during their careers never draw their weapon. So, most likely you never will as well. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared in every aspect.

If you do draw your weapon, you’d better have a very good reason to do so. We had an incident in Florida where a civilian shot a man that was attacking a police officer. He was told by the officer to do so. After the fact the civilian dropped his weapon and backed away. Exactly what you are supposed to do with other officers arriving on the scene.

In an active shooter situation, you may be the only one that can stop the mass shooting. Remember the proper procedure afterward: Police will come in fast; don’t be mistaken as the killer. Obey their commands to the letter. Today, most likely, everything will be caught on video, so your actions will be studied and analyzed.

In my hometown we have a very large mall. As we all should know by now they are magnets for crime, gangs etc.… I knew most of the officers working overtime at the mall, and I was told to never come there unarmed, because they just can’t be everywhere, and that the mall’s security would be useless.

It’s sad but that’s the world we live in today. As a civilian or as a police officer, carrying a firearm imposes an immense responsibility on you. Remember your basic rules: always treat a firearm as if it is loaded, never point it in an unsafe direction unless you plan on firing, always keep your finger off the trigger until and unless you plan of firing your weapon, know your target and what’s behind it.

Dan Donzella has been teaching numerous Martial Arts systems and creating curriculums designed for law enforcement for over 40 years.

Tim Boehlert worked in Security for a large regional health-care facility in conjunction with numerous Federal, State and Regional agencies. He’s authored numerous internationally published articles on Martial Arts and Security issues.

Math and Science in the Martial Arts – Tim Boehlert

The title alone could speak volumes if I knew more, and was any good at math. I don’t, and I’m not. Unfortunately the saying that ‘youth is wasted on the young’ is true here. I appreciate education now more than I ever did.

Over the last few years I have sought to bolster my library by exploring the more technical aspects of what we do as Martial Artists. It actually started with some materials that I bought from TFT (Target Focus Training, Tim Larkin) — which I sought out based on his marketing.

Back in 2008, when I had started my career as in Security, I’d also started my second journey in the Martial Arts at the age of 53. It was a necessary evil, but I gladly took it up because I needed fast and effective solutions to what I was about to face.

After reaching a mid-level Belt Rank in Kenpo I started to look for other ‘arts’ that might be a better fit for my specific needs. My son had a friend that suggested that I look at Krav Maga. Hell I couldn’t even pronounce that then! She knew what I did for a living, and thought it might have what I needed, but cautioned me “it’s very brutal!”

The macho side of me said ‘Hell Yeah!’, but the responsible side of me said – ‘stay away!’ Responsible went out the window. I got on-line and started looking around. I was looking for a package deal, an all-in-one solution, and I was new to this. I bought one of the more expensive packages that I could find, packaged as a 17 DVD disc set, it seemed like a good idea for the money. I placed an order direct for the Commando Krav Maga set, based on the marketing once again.

I started to watch once the package arrived and wow! I’d never seen things like this before. It was hosted by Moni Aizik. What I’d learned was that Moni was based (then) in Canada – just a few hours away. As I jumped ahead in his series of DVD’s, I came across one that may featured footage of a seminar that he’d given, and there I found Avi Nardia, my teacher. Avi and Moni are friends, both sharing some things in common – Martial Arts, Military Service, both exports from Israel to the United States, and both urged to do so by Jim Wagner. Fact check that, but I think that’s correct.

What I liked about Avi was his calm. Avi was taking the students to school, Avi style.

Avi is a well of information, deep and rich. He dissects everything with a very critical eye. Through him I have learned some of how to do the same.

Small-circle JuJitsu by Wally Jay may have been the earliest book that I bought that explained things in a mathematical or scientific way.

I found Tim Larkin on-line. Here’s a guy that has a specific niche, and with a very well planned-out course. In a nutshell it’s all about breaking people. This to takes some time to assimilate. You need to know the context, and I think once you get that, it makes sense. Again, not what I thought I needed. But….

… the information was good and relevant in some respects. Tim’s program is not Martial Arts, it’s intended for those who need self-defense, and in his product, it’s about efficient ways to shut your aggressor down. Period. Exclamation Point!

What I eventually found was the beginning of what this article is all about – math & science! In the Lethal Leverage series you will find a treasure-trove of information related to dealing with anyone who may seek to harm you.

The accompanying book is less than 100 pages, double-spaced text, and with some very good illustrations. Tim’s partner, Chris Ranck-Buhr, does a lot of the writing. This product is designed with your survival as it’s main goal. It’s not a sport-system.

Starting on page 31, you are introduced to three classes of levers. The purpose is to describe and understand what they are, how they work, and then how they are applied. We are introduced to new terminology and concepts that are key to understanding and using this material in the field.

On page 61, we are introduced to the joints of the body and what TFT describes as Base Leverages. There are six that you will need to understand. You learn about each joint, and how it works, and it’s limitations – known as it’s pathological limits.

Over the next 30 pages you will learn about each joint, and what, and how to break each and every one of them. This is not to say that you should, but if you found a need to do so, it’s here. For most of us, it will be good to know where the limits are but also how these wonderful things work. Only then can we use it to our advantage.

Think about a simple arm-bar. A typical arm-bar requires that you apply force to three joints in tandem and in succession, quickly – the wrist, the elbow and the shoulder. So, as an example, the wrist can be moved in six directions, anywhere from 20° to 90° before reaching it’s pathological limits, then the elbow rotates, and the shoulder is a ball-socket and thus has the largest range of motion available. When you learn about these ranges for each joint, the light bulb will go on, trust me.

Doesn’t everyone wonder why a throw works, and how? Well I used this information to learn more about Control & Constraint. Now I could understand how to make some of that work better for me.

I knew in my first year of Hospital Security that I was going to need to find other ‘solutions’ to my ‘problems.’ I knew that I couldn’t compete size for size or against muscle forever. Knowing and then admitting to that fact that led me to do this research.

I later found two books by Martina Sprague. Fighting Science is the first book. In a nutshell, it’s all about why things work or don’t and how to improve that ability in your techniques. Physics is the key here – Torque, Kinetic Energy, Power, Force, Momentum…. you get the idea? It’ about getting around size and strength, which is universal I think, right?

Martina’s next book, The Science of Takedowns, Throws… introduced things like timing and balance to her previous leverage and momentum studies. What this all really comes down to is not using muscle, but using what you have against what your adversary has, by using this knowledge to your.

If you really want or perhaps need to know more, I can recommend the following two books:

[1] Human Body Dynamics by Aydin Tozeren. If you want to study math as your primary goal to understanding the how and why of the body, this is likely a good choice. It’s about human movement and mechanics of how the body moves. You will learn about muscle and bone structure, joints, laws of motion, and all of the mathematical formulae associated with movement, etc… not for the weak of hea

[2] Biomechanics of Human Motion by Emeric Arus, PhD. This book was written with the Martial Artist in mind. You’re going to learn about such things as Kinematics, Kinesics, biomechanical and physiological human motion. Because this is more about how things work specifically in the Martial Arts, it’s a great reference, again laden with math formulae.

Here’s a few more to consider looking at:

[3] Fight Like a Physicist by Jason Thalken, PhD. Jason’s approach is to talk about fighting and the use of physics – to your advantage. Now thus far, all of these books have applicable information in them, and not just for Martial Arts, but also for Self Defense methods. You will have to explore, and perhaps you will discover that tiny missing piece that puts it all together for you. There is some really good fight info in this book – transfer of energy, efficiency, angular velocity, and yes even brain damage.

[4] The Anatomy of Martial Arts by Dr. Norman Link and Lily Chu discusses in how some of the techniques work – but specifically what muscle groups and bone structures support those movements. Good to know. By adding some of this knowledge, you may be able to start to see the connecting dots when it comes to understanding how to generate power for example.

[5] Book of Martial Power by Steven J. Pearlman. In this book you will find a set of basic fundamental principles. Complex force, economical motion, penetration, extension, and the dynamic sphere are introduced. Reading the back cover quotes, I’m now seeing the names of friends and mentors who’ve already beat me to finding this particular book – damn! I guess it comes highly recommended!

[6] The Principles of Unarmed Combat by Mark Jacobs – a book about empty-hand combat. More technique and insider information. Covers the gamut of strikes, throws, chokes, submission, and even sacrifices!

[7] Vital Point Strikes by Sang H. Kim. This book is about meridians, pressure points, targeting. Very well illustrated, and covers a lot of ground including training drills.

These are just a few examples from my personal library that may take years to get through and truly understand.

The more you know and understand, the more likely it is that you’ll make smarter/better choices when you need them, and perhaps with less effort – by using the math and science that you now know. It’s not the technique that is important, but in the knowing of what makes it work. If you understand how, you can design your own techniques and solu

Options for Police Officers During A Traffic Stop – Dan Donzella interviewed by Tim Boehlert

In March I had the good fortune of networking with a gentleman on Facebook that seemed to agree with some of my postings – and he had some very good insights to add. I’m always reluctant to reach out and ask too many questions for fear of pushing people away, because in my business, it’s always hard to find like-minded professionals. And while it’s great therapy for me to exorcise some deep-seated thinking, it’s often disturbing to others not acclimated to what I did for years.

I’d like to introduce you to Dan Donzella. Dan is a Martial Artist, an Instructor/Consultant for Police Departments and also a Firearms Instructor. I had asked Dan outright if we could have a phone conversation – I was very curious about his thoughts and experience, and wanted to develop a conversation off-line. We spent over an hour poking around some dark corners, and I finally had to pop some disturbing questions on him! Lo and behold, not only did he agree, but also HELL YEAH! He agreed with my viewpoints.

Understand one thing about some of our civil servants. They are not always forthcoming with talking about, let alone sharing information that is of a specific nature. They generally don’t talk about the job with outsiders, in my opinion of course. I’ve found that many are reluctant to get into specifics or to talk about issues. I’ve also found that training is never discussed.

During my many years of security employment I’ve sought to learn from others – and who better to teach a newbie than a certified Police Officer? I also seek to give back – teach them things that we’d do, based solely on our own abilities or our guidelines. Knowledge is useless if it’s not shared.

In a nutshell, it was great to finally get to the one thing that always bothers me – training. Can we talk about some of it? What are your thoughts about what is taught? Did you see stuff that bothered you? Can we do better? What would you do if you could?

While we have a lot to explore, Dan was kind enough to accept a challenge from me to write his very first article. Dan is a teacher, but not a writer, and we both have that in common, and although he has more ability in many areas than I, we both want to teach better. Dan sent me a few lines of an idea, and I had to wring the rest out. I added my stuff, and took a co-writer option to encourage and guide him through the process, and my expectation is that the next article will be his entirely – and even if I have to edit it, we will strive for autonomy!

What follows is the ‘interview’ process that we undertook after that first phone call where I’d planted the seed to encourage him to share some of his expertise.

TB: Dan, I don’t know much about your background, but you seem to have ties to LE in our community, and we seem to have some very exclusive friends in the MA arena as well as some common friends in the Police community. I also know that you spent some time with a local PD, and did some DT training with their officers. Can you expand on that a bit?

DD: In 2007 a proposal was made to create a Regional Police Academy for numerous police departments. The purpose of this Academy would be to provide standardized training to new recruits while eliminating overlapping policies and tactics and providing a much-better prepared Police force that would be more well equipped to work together with other agencies.

The Department knew me because I had previously taught some of the high-ranking officers. The head of this project felt that the weapons retention course was out of date. He felt that it was inadequate because it was driven by a defensive mindset – strictly addressing problems from a defensive stance. I put together an offensive minded course that was so well received by the movers and shakers that I was then given the task of assessing the Defensive Tactics program and to try and put together a more-modernized version for new recruits as well as seasoned officers.

In doing so, I started by assessing the weapons retention training. Because I am a firearms instructor, and had spent some time on the streets with many of the officers, I was able to find several things that I felt ‘we can do better.’ After being exposed to some of the current training, I knew that I’d have a lot of work to do.

TB: I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the responsibility of designing any program for Police Officers – where do you start, what do you prioritize, and how do you cram it all into such a short program, yet provide them with a responsible end-product?

DD: As you may have guessed, it’s nearly impossible to cover all aspects of police work in a school setting. Your FTO (Field Training Officer) and years of experience are crucial parts of a larger puzzle that isn’t the same for any two recruits. 

After completing my new Weapons Retention curriculum I began working with the various units within the Police Department. Each job is different though. For instance Traffic Division vs. Street Patrol. I had the unique opportunity to work Traffic Division with the Captain of that division for 2 years. I was getting a lot of questions from officers on “what if’s”, and the most common question I got was about how to extract a person out of their car. What they were asking me was “is there a ‘best’ way to remove the person and not have it end up escalating into a all-out brawl?” What gets taught universally in academies is that officer safety should ALWAYS be their first priority.

TB: Can you share any of the issues that you discovered in the field?

DD: The major mistake that I witnessed in the field was that the officers would reach in over the driver with their entire body and with both hands to unfasten the driver’s seat belt. This simple and too common method/error would expose the officer’s firearm, leaving the officer vulnerable to possible attack.

TB: You see a lot from a different perspective once you know more – based on years on the street, and/or in other training that you’ve pursued. So, based on this ‘mistake’, how did you address it?

DD: What I came up with were the following changes for those stops where the officer was dealing with a non-cooperative, non-compliant and possibly combative citizen:

[1] The officer should first place his/her right knee against the driver’s hip. This limits the driver’s ability to move offensively against the officer, and also allows the officer to ‘feel’ any sudden movements, but still allows a reasonable degree of control.

[2] Next, the officer places his/her your right forearm across the driver’s jaw-line turning their head away and towards the passenger side of the vehicle. You may ask why the forearm across the jaw? This is a control situation where the officer may need to assist the driver to unbuckle their seatbelt. The driver may be non-compliant for any number of reasons – medical emergency, or perhaps just being plain uncooperative. Reaching across the body without controlling the head in this manner could give the driver a means of pulling the officer into a chokehold. The forearm might actually not even touch the driver but still creates a safer entry technique. Prior and on-going assessment of the situation is always critical. The driver might fake a medical condition to gain surprise or advantage allowing them to get the upper hand on the officer, so always be on your guard.  

[3] If needed, i.e. with a combative suspect, apply directed pressure against the driver’s head and into the headrest, rearward momentum. Unbuckle their seat belt with your left hand. Most drivers will​ exit on their own once they realize that the officer has experience with this behavior and advantage.  There’s an old saying in the fighting arts,  “Where the head goes, the body will follow.” By using this pain compliance technique, whether the suspect is feeling pain or not, the positioning of their head in this manner and using the suspect’s weight against them bypasses having to deal with their combativeness or resisting limbs to an extent, and is much safer for the officer. It’s called pain compliance for a reason, and it is a legal demonstration of the use of less-than-deadly force.

[4] Instead of fighting with the suspect while citizens are filming you, reach around and behind his head, insert your finger into his carotid artery (the brachial plexus region of the exposed neck) or up under the jaw into his glands with your right hand, the mandibular process. Pull his head up and back, out of the door and down towards the rocker panel. Be patient, as your fingers will penetrate more if the driver resists, making it even more effective and the driver will eventually lose his grip on anything in the car, including the steering wheel and fall out of the vehicle, where he can be cuffed and searched.

[5] It is actually possible to cuff them hanging out of the vehicle. It is a painful technique but with no lasting injuries. The exact same entry using the knee and forearm can be used in any situation entering the suspect’s vehicle. Use it in a much more forceful way if the driver is reaching for a weapon. By smashing him with your knee, elbow and forearm on your way to the hand reaching for the weapon.

So, while some drivers will grab onto the steering wheel, and some have even locked their feet behind the brake pedal, this technique may provide a best-defense entry and extraction strategy, safe for all, because some officers would hit their arms or try to peel their fingers off of the steering wheel, and some would be bitten as a result.

TB: I’ve heard the saying that goes something like this “the threat determines the outcome” and I always took that to mean, that they choose to fight or not, to cooperate or not, and when it’s over – you simply oblige them – and I’m not saying this is true nor the reality for you, but in my world it was often very true.

DD: I have patterned the majority of the arresting techniques that I teach in a way so that they look as non-aggressive as is possible if being filmed. Every department has to deal with the advent of this trend to capture everything the Police do while performing their duties. It does matter how it looks as much as how effective it is, which should always be the officer’s priority.

TB: Times have certainly changed. Respect for the law is a thing of the past, sadly. And the media has all but gutted the Police Officer’s ability to get home safe every day. Because of their lack of understanding, one-sided and under-researched articles, and outright deceptive reporting practices, our officers are in more danger every day. The media has painted them as thugs, and with the thought that all they want to do is to use force irresponsibly. That has impacted how the public responds and acts when coming into contact with officers.

DD: An officer stops cars all day long, never knowing what to expect. Sadly, there are too many road rage confrontations, and while some citizens solve it by displaying verbal outbursts only, others end up using deadly force.

Every officer wants a safe traffic stop where the driver of the stopped vehicle stays in their vehicle, the officer does his job, whether it be issuing a warning or writing a citation and then to have them both get back on their separate ways. Unfortunately, today a pleasant, non-combative stop can turn into a shoot-out. It happened just today, again, to a new officer, who was killed by the driver after a ‘routine’ traffic stop. No stop is ever routine, and the word ‘routine’ should be banned from every Police officer’s mind.

TB: Anything else that you’d like to share Dan?

DD: We all have seen videos of bar fights and how some bouncers handle the situation. Inexperienced ones get in the brawl and throw punches and toss patrons around. For a club that’s a bad ‘solution’ which can ultimately result in lawsuits, losing their liquor license or losing the business due to adverse reactions from their patrons. An experienced​ bouncer wants to defuse the mayhem. He can handle the patron with total control using different controlling techniques while adapting to his resistance and without causing harm, which is a sheer pleasure to watch!

In conclusion, constant training and improving not only your skills but also knowledge in your chosen field is a must. You must upgrade yourself, training facilities can last only so long and they must be upgraded as well. Having teachers who ‘think out of the box’ are crucial in this endeavor.

TB: I’d like to thank Dan for taking up the challenge and for sharing some unique insights about his training ideology. It’s good to know that there are teachers like him out there that our Police Officers can utilize. And depend on. Dan and I have both seen the effects of incomplete training and we’ve both sought to change that status quo in our own ways. As teachers, we both agree that more can be done, however. We need to get beyond the false sense of security that ‘we’ve learned all that we need.’ That simply is not true.


A Duty to Act: Understanding Police Decisions – Tim Boehlert

This forty page digital digest by Tim Boehlert is a comprehensive examination, summary, and reference guide that is the result of Tim’s attending a multiday seminar on police use of force.

The seminar centered around the legal and practical aspects of police use of force along with both citizen and police rights and responsibilities.

The digital digest is also filled with links and references for further study and investigation.

Click here to download.

Tools to Combat the Issues of Complacency vs. Reality Part III -Tim Boehlert & Matt Swartz, NYSP, Ret.

Day Two – Witnessing Reality

On day two of the academy we were shown showed a video of a roadside shootout. The aggressor shot until his gun was empty. He was also the target of the officer simultaneously. The aggressor was able to continue to fire on the officer, reload and fire more shots, get back into his vehicle and drive away. He made it about a mile or so down the road. The officer pursued, and when he approached the vehicle, only then did he discover that he had fatally shot the man. The aggressor was dead behind the wheel. That’s a long ‘Dead Man’s Ten!’

Read the FBI research on actual homicides. Read the Street Survival Series of books put out again by Calibre Press and Jim Glennon. Read the Artwohl/Christensen book on Police shootings. These are men and women that have prepared to take a life, but read about their ‘experience.’ Read the personal stories and insights. Ask yourself the hard questions now, because when ‘   it’ happens will you have time to ask yourself, your lawyer, your family, and your sensei? It’s not easy. Don’t delude yourself with macho attitude. These are humanized accounts of what happened and the outcomes. The effects it had on the police officers, their families, and their friends. How it totally changed their world. This is reality. Cold, hard, honest.

The Knife Solution

If you fancy that you’re a knife guy. Think about this. It takes very little skill to kill someone with a knife. A whole lot less skill than it does to do the same thing with a gun, I believe, in many instances. A gun allows you distance, which psychologically gives you an edge – distance is a form of de-humanizing the act. It de-personalizes your actions to an extent not possible with a knife.

Using a knife on another human is a very personal act. You will get their blood on you. You’re not going to walk away untouched by this act like you may after having shot someone. You will likely get cut or worse if it’s against another person wielding a knife. Learning whatever art you choose to use for this weapon is no guarantee. It doesn’t matter much if it’s FMA or any derivative. Because, even if you do prevail, is it going to be what you’ve fantasized it was going to be like, or did it even go down the way you ‘saw it ‘ in your own mind? No, it didn’t. That I can guarantee. It never does.

(Matt disagrees with me on this point and adds these insights for consideration: “repeatedly and effectively stabbing/slashing enough to kill? Not that easy. vs. pulling a trigger over and over [consult wound data comparisons]. I disagree and think the opposite is true.” I based my thoughts on the psychological investment inherent in an act of violence where death is the outcome, perhaps as a one-sided goal (his, not yours): intent, commitment and no ‘personal barriers issues’. Matt closes with: “Will power vs. Skill power = Kill power!”)

Check this out. Look up some prison knifings on YouTube. Watch a few, and see what reality really looks like. These guys have skills that you don’t and you won’t be prepared for their skills. To your mind, they may not be skills, but in the end, it works – with a knife, a shiv, or any manner of ‘weapon at hand.’ Skill is the least of it.

Now go find the brutal footage of terrorists using any imaginable means to kill people that they have effectively ‘othered’ –whether doing so for strong religious ‘beliefs’, or for strong political ideology as their driving force.

If you can actually sit through a few short glimpses, or watch an entire clip of one beheading, then at least you’ve witnessed the reality of reality. You’ve started down the road to enlightenment. From here, you need to stop and reassess your journey, but you will only if you are smarter and more responsible after having done so, for the benefit of others that you are training. There is very little skill involved in this act. Intent is the driving force, and you likely don’t possess that ‘skill.’

Reality as a Valuable Learning Tool – It’s Missing in our Curriculum

Reality is not a common learning tool, and it really should be. It needs to be. If we are to be Honest, and display Integrity, then we owe it to ourselves as well as to our students. We need to be better and more completely educated – even if and when it’s disturbing, and knowing that what we are teaching is not the whole story. It’s fantasy in too many cases. I don’t mean to say it’s intentional, as it isn’t always. But, it is intentional if we disregard the facts and the realities and don’t speak to it or teach it to our students.

Be responsible and accountable. Don’t propagate your ‘reality’ into impressionable minds. Do the research and then make those resources available. I have listed just a few herein.

Don’t be fooled by your own complacency – you’ve been training with willing partners, and following standard Dojo (read: sport) ‘use of engagement’ principles. They are falsehoods if you’re training to use a weapon against another human.

There are glitches and safeties built into your training methods and programs (thank you Rory Miller!) I’m telling you that you are fooling yourself and misleading your students. Can you really afford to continue this practice in good conscience?

There are many ways to speak to this subject matter, but the reality is that you probably haven’t yet faced reality. This is your wake-up call. Please accept the invitation. It’s my gift to you.

Who said you can’t learn any Martial Art from a book or by watching a video? I whole-heartedly and respectfully disagree.

In a future article I will expound more upon the Civilian Academy Experience – an overview that will include more in depth information about all three days.


Matt Swartz, NYSP, Ret. is a very modest man possessing extraordinary talent and drive. He offered to read this article in draft form and provide me with some feedback, and I am so grateful that he did so. I met Matt briefly and by chance while attending an LEO-only training session a few years ago given by FLETC DT Senior Instructor Charlie Moore, USMS, Ret. Matt is the subject of a chapter of Charles Remsberg’s fourth installment of the original Street Survival series published by Calibre Press, titled ‘Blood Lessons’, which was used in Police Academies to train new recruits. I am proud to know Matt, and now even more so for his contributions to this piece.