Category Archives: CRGI

How to Stay Safe in the Age of Terrorism

© Copyright 2017 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, particularly from lone wolf terrorists using low tech weapons, it was time to reprint 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.

© Copyright 2017 Avi Nardia & Tim Boehlert

Another Page in the Book of Knowledge

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 doesn’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 possibilities?

[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.

© Copyright 2018, tim boehlert

Becoming A Contact Professional

Becoming A Contact Professional

I have been doing Hospital Campus security for 9 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 9 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.

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.

“It’s not about the size of your stones, but what you build with them!”
© copyright 2012, Tim Boehlert

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

Training ‘Tools’: Does What You’re Using Make Sense?
© Copyright 2017, 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 reader 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.

© Copyright 2017, tim boehlert

Thoughts on Providing Personal Protection

Thoughts on Providing Personal Protection

© copyright 2017, tim boehlert


Personal protection/asset protection/VIP Protection/Bodyguard – all similar fields seemingly?

Providing personal protection for a client is perhaps a daunting prospect. Coming to terms with that prospect takes some training certainly, some planning, and some courage for sure. Every client will be different, and every detail will have it’s own challenges.

Here is a list of things to consider before making any decisions.

1] Determine what the client/asset requires.

2] Assess your skills and ability to provide those specific services.

3] Evaluate everything – risks specifically.

Depending on your state’s laws, your credentials, and other factors, you may have to turn down some opportunities. You may also find yourself involved with a lot of politics, especially if your client/asset is a public figure, or working in those circles where politics is a predominant factor.

Your work ethic, your values, your abilities will be on public display for all to see, even if that’s not what you intended. In fact, a lot of your detail assignment will consist of being in and around the public – pieces which you cannot control.

In fact, a lot of what a detail revolves around is control – controlling your client/asset, his/her movements, his/her interactions, his/her environment and everyone and everything that the asset comes into contact with.

A large part of asset protection falls under the guise of personal assistant. You will be expected to be part valet, customer service representative, butler, messenger, chauffeur, guard, and gopher. All details will offer new challenges – i.e. leaving the asset alone with unknown contacts.

Exposure is always present, and may be unmanageable – politics rears it’s ugly head in some instances. Managing that exposure will create some upheaval, meaning changes in your plans.

A public figure is an interesting prospect to explore:

1] They are highly visible – recognizable

2] They represent a concept, an institution, a philosophy, etc…

3] Their reputation is a prominent factor in their public image perception

4] You will find yourself in contact with pro & con forces


Remaining neutral is not possible. If you take on an asset you take on the added responsibility of blending in without being noticed.

You will need to be aware of the threats to the asset due to their stance on certain issues/topics, etc… Even if you are not supportive of those views, you need to protect their right to them against those that do not share those same views. If you can’t separate yourself from those views, find another detail.

Some issues to consider:

1] Carry concealed, open-carry or no-carry

2] Visibility aspects – uniformed, or plain clothes.

3] Scheduling – meals, continence – forget breaks.

4] Managing unscheduled events/guests

5] Managing unknowns – those that want to be connected

6] Managing specific assets tied to value – money, product, etc…


Point 1: Weapons

A] Are they necessary?

B] Are they advisable?

C] Will they create an atmosphere that is negative in nature?

Defining necessary – is the asset under sufficient threat to even consider a firearm as necessary? If some are there other professional services employed that can either supplement or replace that necessity for you?

Defining advisable – is the threat strong enough to consider NOT being armed, due to the current political atmosphere and public perception of open-carry, or even concealed carry?

Because gun violence is so prominent in the news, do we put ourselves and our assets at risk due to political pressures that are pushing an agenda like gun-control?


Point 2: Visibility

Providing security in plain clothes and in uniform are two different jobs. They both send signals to the same but also different groups. A uniform is highly visible – recognizable as a sign of authority. It also provides a target, a focal point. Plan clothes is more subtle, but still recognizable once discovered, and it’ll be impossible to NOT be discovered if you’re doing the job correctly.


Point 3: Scheduling

Time is an asset that will need to be managed. As an asset, it has no clearly definable dimensions per se. Depending on what the asset requires, your schedule will need to accommodate a rapidly evolving landscape of events over the course of a day as an example. Not only are you responsible for managing the assets schedule, but your own and your teams – that’s meals and bathroom breaks mostly.


Point 4: Extras

During the course of your detail and while managing your asset, you will be expected to manage and accommodate their guests, acquaintances, family members and their groups. Things come up, plans change – flexibility is your friend.


Point 5: Close Personal ‘Friends’

Your asset is a celebrity – there are those that will try to make a personal connection for their own purposes. They may have zero connection, or have strong connections, but may not be wanted in the moment. Your job may be to discourage and/or deny access. This can be a daunting task. It’s part political, part personal, part diplomatic. You represent your client/asset, and future employment will depend on your ability to be diplomatic and charming at the same time. Saying NO takes special skills. Performing NO takes extra-special skills.


Point 6: Other Exposure

Your detail may involve handling other material assets – money, product, services, tickets/passes, meals, etc… Can you manage that AND your asset simultaneously? As part of the diplomatic process you may need to facilitate greasing the wheels that revolve around your asset. That means exposing yourself to the public at large, and becoming a secondary point of contact for those waiting in the wings.

Some other things to consider:

You are now a ‘target.’ Those with evil intent will look to take you out FIRST.

Your low-profile design has now turned into high-profile status for someone. You NEED to notice that change, and prepare for off-duty encounters, where you may be tested. You will run into someone you’ve ‘let down’ or otherwise pissed off druing your work detail. Expect them to recognize you and perhaps give you a play. Some will take a run at you to try to elevate it back to the asset – attaching blame to the asset for profit. This is not the only field where you can expect someone to cause an accident as an example to turn a profit based on what they think they might cash in on. The higher-profile the gig, the more the likelihood of an occurrence of this nature. So, if part of your detail is transport, you’d better bone up on your defensive driving abilities.


There are many more items and issues to consider. You may find qualified instructors, and yet like MA, it’s going to be a crapshoot. Most of your training will likely be garnered through employment opportunities. Make the best of your down-time to educate yourself – study, observe, train.

© copyright 2017, tim boehlert


A Duty To Act: Understanding Police Decisions

A Duty To Act: Understanding Police Decisions
© Copyright 2017, tim boehlert

Remembering the sacrifice of one…

“In a free and peaceful society where so many have been taught that all violence is wrong, citizens are often confused and dismayed when officers use force, even when the force is perfectly lawful and justified.”
Force Decisions: A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force, Rory Miller


Because this class was a whirlwind of information that requires deeper research, I will highlight the main points that were provided, describe them in brief as I understood them, and at the end I will provide resource links that I was able to find to enable you to do the deeper research that will help you try to fully comprehend the connections and relevance of the subject matter that we were exposed to.

The majority of the information of the first two days was based on law and case law. We need to understand the existing laws and case law presented here in order to frame our understanding going forward and to truly and effectively see that ‘what we think we are seeing’ is no longer based on our lack of this foundational knowledge.


In 2012, Rory Miller published a book titled: Force Decisions: A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force

This book was written well before the more recent events that have dominated our headlines for the last 2+ years.

I had found Rory and his work through my search for answers to some very difficult personal questions that I wanted answered and for situations that I’d likely face daily: “How do I deal with violence.” It’s seemingly a pretty simple question. As I was to find out though, there were many answers, a lot of opinions, and unfortunately a lot of bad information out there all geared towards answering that simple question.

Over the last 2-3 years, policing and police work have been the focus of so much negative media attention that I felt it needed to be exposed. The outright deceitful practice of so many media outlets to paint our warriors in the wrong light touched home for me personally. No one denies that there are bad events in police work. No one denies that there are bad cops. No one denies that the results are often difficult to deal with, from every side, well… almost.

In over 8 years of doing security work I’ve had the pleasure of working with many officers from multiple regional agencies – Marshals, State Troopers, Sheriffs and other local Police Departments. They all do one thing extremely well. They show up each workday to offer their expertise, and their lives to protect people they do not know – you, your neighbors, and your families. Not because it is their job, although it is, but because they want to make a difference.

During many years of dealing with individuals that I had come in contact with and/or that had come to the attention of our police agencies, I found enlightenment on a whole new level. I have gained a newfound understanding that few will ever be privy to, and a newfound knowledge, as to what they deal with many days. Incidents where our officers are asked and expected to address without personal bias, without concern for their own personal well-being, and with the expectation that they will prevail. There is no second-place in their world. These fine women and men run in where others are running out. They respond to things that many will never face, and some outright can’t.

We all expect to go home safe after work and lead our lives, with no question, we consider it a given. Our police officers are duty bound to do the same. That is their goal, each and every day. But, the difference is that it is more of a conscious decision, and not an expectation for them. I expect that every day this weighs heavily on their mind: “will I make it home safe and alive… today?”

The Syracuse Regional Academy Civilian Police Academy:

Syracuse Police Announce a 10-Hour Civilian Police Academy To Be Held January 10-12, 2017 at the Public Safety Building.
In the wake of several well-publicized police-citizen encounters, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler has decided to host a free event designed to improve the relationship between local police and the community members they serve.

The Syracuse Police Department will be hosting a Civilian Police Academy, January 10-12th, 2017, at the Public Safety Building. The Civilian Police Academy is intended to educate community members about police training and tactics, in an effort to provide them with a better understanding of police authority and the limits on police authority. Experienced police instructors will provide training related to various legal and procedural aspects of policing, including authorized police use of force.

Practical exercises will also be incorporated into the curriculum in an effort to provide participants with an opportunity to put into practice what they have learned. Each of these practical exercises will be recorded by local college and university students and an interactive discussion will follow each exercise. In addition, the instructors will facilitate discussion about some of the recently publicized police use of deadly force incidents that have dominated the news media. Invitations have been extended to a wide range of community members, including church leaders, activists, members and participants of Interfaith Works, media representatives, Syracuse City School District administrators, neighborhood watch groups and members of the Civilian Review Board.

There is no cost to attend the program.

Facts vs. Beliefs:
Let’s discuss what we think we know vs. what the facts really are. I’m going to share my ‘school’ experience with our local Police Department, whereby this fine agency issued an invitation to the public to attend a very special class – The Civilian Police Academy.

The class centered on the most important foundational legal aspects involved, and some of the tactics developed and deployed to deal with criminals and/or persons in crisis.

DAY 1, Detective Derek McGork:

After a short welcoming speech by a few of the officers and the Chief of Police, we were down to the business of opening minds.

Det. Derek McGork spoke briefly about some of the legal issues and laws that are the foundational pieces that support police Use of Force policies. He spoke briefly about other programs that they have implemented in our community: youth outreach programs, community involvement opportunities, community education opportunities, and he ended his presentation with a short talk about the on-going and ever-present violence that surrounds us daily.

The objectives of this class were to:
1) Foster cooperation between police and those in attendance i.e. the community that the police are responsible for and accountable to.

2) To showcase a small portion of the training that all recruits and future law enforcement professionals receive.

3) To dispel misconceptions re: “Why we do what we do.” For the common citizen to understand more fully what they think they see, and perhaps misunderstand or misinterpret based on limited knowledge, personal/community bias, etc.

4) To create neighborhood ambassadors. To educate the attendees that stepped up to this opportunity and challenge to become educated, and with the expectations that we would in turn go forth and educate those that we are involved with, beholden to, or directly or indirectly responsible for.

This class would not be complete without a discussion pertaining to those “inflammatory ‘experts’ within the media.” The floor was opened for a volley of comments and some discussion – to set the groundwork for what was to come What ensued never felt rehearsed. The answers provided were informative, positive and sincere, never negative.

Citizen Encounters:
During this segment lots of new police-speak was presented. For me it was a bit overwhelming. When I learn, I need time to process what is being presented. Time was short. We would be taught in 10 hours just some of the material that new police recruits would have 6 months to learn.

[POINT 01] “Under a certain set of circumstances, police have the authority to question, detain, search or arrest individuals (within reason).” – also known amongst officers as an ‘investigative action.’

This statement provides certain and specific protections for police officers in performing their duties for the citizens and communities that they represent and protect. It is Federal and NY case law. Their goal: to preserve a safe society and keep crime to a minimum. The issue(s): Individual rights vs. Public order.

A discussion ensued regarding this point and as you might expect, the specific wording and exact definition of the terms and individual words therein. I was aware of legalese, but this fine-tuned for me the importance of not only being able to memorize definitions of law, but to truly understand a ‘simple’ definition steeped in legalese.

Next was a discussion of NYC’s Stop & Frisk law(s). Since this practice has been in the news for the last few years, and its’ relevance was apparent, we had a mini-seminar of specific case-law as it applies to the police’s rights to do so.

“The need to balance the need to maintain a safe society with the need to uphold citizen’s constitutional rights.”

Case Law 1:
The case law was discussed with the details provided, and explained in general to us. A Terry Stop[1] involves detaining a person by police on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

[POINT 02] Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)[2]
In short, the police have to demonstrate articulable facts (reason) that ‘criminal activity is afoot.’

To justify reasonable suspicion, police have to demonstrate specific and articulable facts that indicate to a reasonable officer that the detainee is, or is about to engage in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion is based on the totality of circumstances, in brief.

Is your head spinning yet?

There are differences between Federal and New York State law, specifically relating to search and seizure. In short, the State has the ability to ‘extend permissions beyond what the Federal Law states.’

One of those is the definition of a ‘high-crime area’ to allow for justification of Stop & Frisk, whereby officers that observe specific behaviors and/or interpersonal communications and/or specific transactions can use this extension to lawfully provide articulable facts.

[POINT 03] People vs. Debour, 40 NY2d 210 (1976)[3]
We learn about a 4-tiered analysis/guideline regarding the rights of police with specific given facts.

Request for information – The police have the right to request information, and ID based on objective and credible reasoning. They need to be able to justify a stop and be able to articulate why they are asking for your ID, or why you are there.

Right to inquire – they need to provide justification based on a founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.

Stop & FriskReasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur(?) and that the perpetrator is armed.

Arrest – based on standard reasonable cause.

Within each level, the police have specific guidelines of what they need to justify, and what they are able to do as a result of that specific levels guidelines. With each level there are more requirements to be followed and increased abilities granted to the officer.

“Police may demand information with no legal recourse.”

Police work under a premise known as ‘Duty To Act.’ It is their job to respond, they have no choice. They cannot refuse, even when and if there life is in danger. They will never have all of the information needed at the time that they have to respond to an encounter, which could result in their death or the death of other citizens.

During ‘custodial interrogation’, the citizen does not have to be Mirandized. Simply put, the police do not have to read you your rights under this type of encounter.

During any stop, the police act on the available information at the time – those facts that are presented to them by the dispatcher, or others that may have incomplete and/or inaccurate information. How about that?

Facts are only facts if they are true, are provided by a credible source, and will vary depending on the depth of the available details provided.

Police officers are asked daily to make decisions based on this premise in a very small and often immeasurable timeframe. When those officers are challenged in a court of law (and or in the court of public opinion – i.e. the media), those that judge the actions of the officers have been afforded the gift of extended/extensive time, further research, perhaps better facts and details or other information not available at the time to the responding officers. In the eyes of the law these same officers are protected by the law, which states that they can only be judged based on the information that was available to them at the time.

[People v Cantor, 36 NY 2d 106, 112-113 (1957)] [4]

At [LEVEL 3], reasonable suspicion is defined as follows:

“The quantum of knowledge to induce an ordinary prudent and cautious man under the circumstances to believe criminal activity is at hand.”

Proceed with caution – you need to understand the legal implications of this sentence in its entirety, and each word individually as well. Often this is the source of disconnect for civilians. It generates angst, misunderstanding and much head shaking when discussed amongst peers not in touch with their legal knowledge base.

Thus, “a stop based on reasonable suspicion will be upheld if the officer can identify specific and articulable facts that, together with any logical deductions, reasonably prompted the intrusion.” (1d@ 113)

Right about now, my head is spinning. Partly because I’m tired, partly because I hate legal-speak or any verbiage that needs to be analyzed with the help of a thesaurus and at least one good dictionary. I can appreciate the exactness of the terms and definitions, but to fully comprehend the meaning takes a lot of extra effort.

Det. McGork next spoke of the need to educate tipsters on how to create a better (i.e. more detailed) description of a person of interest (POI) to affect more arrests.

He next transitioned into a discussion about bias, specifically unconscious bias, citing “Race is not part of the equation.”


Case Law 2:
People v Brown   115 AD3d (1st Dept. 2014[5]
In brief: a case where officers observed two known males running down the street suspiciously (looking back over their shoulders) in a known high-crime area. Although no crime had been reported, they stopped and detained the two men so that they could question them and investigate further.

 People v Thomas 115 AD3d (1st Dept. 2014)[6]
In brief: Same as People v Brown 115 AD3d (1st Dept. 2014) Cited above.

People v Chestnut 51 NY2d 14 (1980)[7]
In brief: a case where two plain clothes officers on anticrime patrol observed two males and a female acting suspiciously in a known high-crime area. Although no crime had yet been reported, they followed and observed one of the males into a neighborhood park where they observed further suspicious activity and only then received information of an armed robbery in the area where the male being observed fit the description given by the victim. They continued to follow the male until such time as he had met up with the other two accomplices and then detained them.

These cases led to a ruling in favor of police action where they were reasonably suspicious based on the totality of circumstances citing ‘in the moment’ vs. the privilege of time and research after the fact.

DAY 1, Detective Mark Rusin:

Det. Mark Rusin is a graduate of the 2016 Force Science Institute program, and an expert in the Use of Force as it applies specifically to police use of force against civilians.

He starts his portion of the training by citing a speech given by Attorney General Janet Reno from April 15, 1999 before the National Press Club.

Mark then explains that the USDOJ (United States Department of Justice) requires that all officers undergo a minimum of 7 hours in Use of Force training. Locally, Det. Rusin states that the officers from the Syracuse Police Department undergo between 60 & 70 hours of in-service training!

We discussed the concept of ‘fear vs. being offended’ when coming face-to-face with the police. Perception. It’s all about that one little word – perception.

Det. Rusin suggested that we all Google the Harvard study/test on Implicit Bias.

He said we’d likely be surprised by the findings.

A definition of implicit bias: Understood though not clearly or directly stated tendency to believe some ideas are better than others.

We discussed training to a standard and how each community may have very different standards. Det. Rusin wanted to teach people where to look, and which professional cues to pay attention to during any contact.

Verbal Judo came into play with both Det. McGork and Det. Rusin. It seemed obvious to me that their use of verbal judo had been in their training. Det. Rusin pointed out “we’ve all likely heard the term de-escalation right?” And while we may all have heard of it, and some were more familiar with the term and concept than others, there is no standard to follow. Thus any tactics may be implemented, in any order and to any discernible degree that the user determines is useful. So while the public outcry may be for more use of de-escalation tactics, there is no standard to follow, and no real requirements to do so.

What I’ve personally found is that some are better than others, and it is my belief that getting better is attributable to exposure, achievement and an ability to work under pressure and with no existing maps. You are flying by the seat of your pants in unchartered territory. Buckle up and hang on!

We heard about Procedural Justice Ideals and learned that here there is also no standard.

This led to an explanation of Reality Based Training. We also learned the term Human Performance Factors.

[POINT 04] Scott v Harris 550 U.S. 372,(2007)[8]: where the term seizure is defined.

Much of policing is defined by the U.S Constitution’s 4th Amendment.[9] The exact same verbiage that defines the 4th Amendment is also used in NYS Article 1, sec. 12.

Case Law 3: Seizures
Brendlin v California 51 U.S. 249[10]
In brief: all occupants of a vehicle are seized, not just the driver during a traffic stop.

Article 35.30[11], UOF in effecting an arrest or preventing an escape from custody or acting under color of employment, and used as a defense.

Burchett v Kiefer 310 F. 3d 937- 6th Circuit[12]
In brief: a case involving handcuffing restraint and use of excessive force.

Johnson v Glick[13]
In brief: a case involving Use of Force and Totality of Circumstances.

Effecting an arrest, preventing an escape and the Use of Deadly Force (UODF)
Tennessee v Garner[14]
In brief: a case defining the ability of police to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect.

Criminal Culpability vs. Civil Liability

“A person is culpable if they cause a negative event and:
(1) the act was intentional;
(2) the act and its consequences could have been controlled (i.e., the agent knew the likely consequences, the agent was not coerced, and the agent overcame hurdles to make the event happen); and
(3) the person provided no excuse or justification for the actions.”

“civil liability n. potential responsibility for payment of damages or other court-enforcement in a lawsuit, as distinguished from criminal liability, which means open to punishment for a crime.”

Use Of Deadly Force circumstances:
Circumstances where Deadly Force is justified
1] Kidnapping
2] Arson
3] Escape 1st Degree
4] Burglary 1st Degree

Sweat & Matt’ and TV footage from is cited. David Sweat, an escaped convict from an upstate NY prison, while evading police was located just south of the NYS/Canadian Border after a search that lasted several days and involved hundreds of officers. One officer used deadly force to stop his escape attempt. The convict was subsequently shot in the back while attempting to flee across the U.S./Canadian Border.

“Objectively Reasonable is the standard for Use of Force.”

Graham v Connor[15]
In brief: a case that set the standard for UOF. The court found that “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.’ The case involved the arrest of a man that turned out to be experiencing a diabetic emergency. He was not responsive to officers’ orders, uncooperative and combative.

Objective Test: Reasonable Officer[16] – is the standard set in 1989“objectively-reasonable”-standard-for-use-of-force/

Whereby 20/20 hindsight is not allowed when judging the merits of the case and Use of Force deployed by officers. And, where it was outlined that the circumstances of a contact are rapidly evolving, and thus the use of higher cognitive processes is immediately unavailable.

During Day 1 we are asked if we’d like to participate in ‘reality-based’ scenarios. The groups are split into smaller groups of two – active participants and observers. Based on their experience and education, the police create some very simple, yet easy to understand scenarios for us. The first is based around a ‘typical’ non-compliant, yet non-aggressive protester. We are taken into the gymnasium, given specific information about what we are about to witness and experience.

This one starts with the smallest female officer that is in attendance. Her job is to resist arrest, and bury her hands beneath her. She is to resist only. The participant is asked to affect an arrest, and in order to do so, they first need to cuff the protester To do that they’d need to get to the protesters hands.

Seems simple enough, and no special skills are required, by either party. It’s obviously designed to make it look simple, and thus a skilled attendee is asked to play the part of the arresting officer. After just a few minutes, not only is he unsuccessful but he’s tanked out – worn out, exhausted, and out of ideas.

It made a very strong point that was not lost on any of us. Kudos and credit to the ‘protester’ officer. This part made me particularly proud to witness, as in my experiences in having to deal with combatives, it’s always the small females that give me the most concern! Well-done officer! Very proud to know you are out there for us!

DAY 2:
Det. Rusin is the lead-off speaker for Day 2. He picks up where we left off yesterday discussing the merits of Graham v Connor.

Factors to be considered:
The severity of the crime
The immediacy of the threat
Actively resisting arrest
Attempting to evade arrest by flight
Objective Test & Reasonable Officer – the standard
Objectively Reasonable

“In Graham v. Connor (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court answered these questions. The Supreme Court ruled that police use of force must be “objectively reasonable”—that an officer’s actions were reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him, without regard to his underlying intent or motivation.”

Other factors to be included:
Possessing a weapon
Time of day
Number of officers vs. the number of suspects
Environmental factors
Pre-assault indicators
Size, age, condition
(Gender is not considered and is not recognized by the courts)
Common sense approach
Render medical attention
Innocent bystanders
Drugs, alcohol, AMS (Altered Mental Status)
Known violent history, known Mental Health history
Location – can be ‘iffy’
Race – is not reasonable

[POINT 05] Shreveport, LA video 03/15/2003[17]
This video demonstrates the dangers of drawing conclusions based on limited data. In the link provided, there are TWO videos, and thus two perspectives can be viewed.

Based on how officers operate, they do not shoot to kill; they shoot to STOP THE THREAT. PERIOD. Officers receive very specific training when it comes to the Use Of Deadly Force (UODF). They are trained to shoot at the largest available target that is presented to them in the moment. That target will always be dictated by the circumstances. When the officer determines that the threat is no longer present, then their use of deadly force is discontinued. NOTE: UODF is always based on personal or individual choice and ability to do so (belief systems) – whether or not to deploy it is always a choice ripe with many considerations.

I am always reminded of the Officer Kyle Dinkheller murder where this proved fatal for the officer. It’s much deeper than this, but his decision cost him his life.

When the threat stops – there are at least 2 vantage points/perspectives

Individual internalized component – to act or not and at what level of UOF

Some action is scriptable – refers to how things may play out

Schema –
“a representation of a plan or theory in the form of an outline or model.”

Degrees of Force – see Use of Force models

“Officers never control the amount of force used; it is always determined by the actions and level of resistance of the suspect.” “The officer responds appropriately to the level of resistance.” Chuck Joyner, CIA/FBI, Ret.

The way I’d learned this principle was slightly different, but provided the same insight: “The threat determines if force is used and how much. He also determines when it is over.” That’s a great insight right there. It makes some uncomfortable, but not the warrior class.

Defined Terms:
Passive non-compliance: “non-violent, does not pose an immediate threat to the officer or public.”

Active non-compliance: “any physical acts against an officer that could reasonably defeat a lawful attempt by the officer to gain control.”

Active Aggression:a threat or overt act of an assault (through physical or verbal means) coupled with present ability to carry out the threat or assault which reasonably indicates that an assault or injury to any person is imminent.”

Deadly Physical Threat: “imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Alpha vs. Beta commands: Keep it simple.
Alpha commands are concise “Stop playing.”

What are beta commands? 1) easy to dismiss or 2) too difficult to comply with”

Pre-incident indicators: “We get a signal prior to violence,” Gavin de Becker says. “There are pre-incident indicators. Things that happen before violence occurs.”

Totality of Circumstances – 1997 Graham v. Connor
“A totality of the circumstances standard suggests that there is no single deciding factor, that one must consider all the facts, the context, and conclude from the whole picture whether there is probable cause, or whether an alleged detention is really a detention, or whether a citizen acted under color of law.”

Use of Force continuum:
The following links provide some background on the development of the initial UOF models as developed in 1991 by Dr. Franklin Graves, FLETC & Professor Gregory J. Connor, University of Illinois Police Training Institute

Here we were shown some video and educated in fitness and how it relates to combat – dealing with an unwilling, non-cooperative subject – known as a combative individual in active aggression mode. The main point was to demonstrate the amount of time an officer may have during an encounter of this type – it’s not as long as you might think. Keep in mind that these officers are generally in better shape than most Americans. They typically spend hours weekly in their local gyms to stay in shape, to maintain. On top of that they are typically wearing an additional 30lbs or more of life-saving gear!

Winnipeg Exhaustion study: “You have just 60 seconds, use it to the best of your ability if you expect to survive.”

Lastly we were shown data about what many think is truth – based on Hollywood fantasy standards that we have been spoon-fed for too many years. When we watch a typical action drama we often see a scene where the good guy shoots the bad guy, the bad guy flies back several feet, and may die after one or more shots, right? Typically if they die, they die quickly and the ‘fight’ is over. This is fantasy, and the proof is in the data we were shown.

CNS (Central Nervous System) Hit: it will take at least 10-seconds to die after being shot.

In one of Marc MacYoung’s books he describes a ‘Dead Man’s Ten.’ This scenario describes that even after receiving many hits and perhaps even kill shots, a subject is still able to move and thus fire back after 10 or more seconds before expiring. Let that sink in. Even if you are an excellent marksman, there is no guarantee that your well-placed shots will bring someone down and stop the violence they wield towards you.

During Day 2, we are allowed once again to participate in some more-involved scenarios and role-playing. During this portion, we experienced some active-shooter type scenarios, hostage scenarios, EDP scenarios, and some surprises.

My intent from Day 1 was to participate, but I’d changed my mind after Day 1. It was more fun and educational for me to watch! I learned more by watching than I would have through participation. I’d already done a lot of this stuff in the course of my duties, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to not cross over the lines and use the knowledge that I had accumulated during my career to affect a different outcome than most of the others would be able to. That’s not me bragging. I’ve had many years of dealing with non-compliants, and thus thousands of one-on-one actions. I have trained in many of the same disciplines.

DAY 3:
Officer Mike Musengo, Firearms Instructor, Syracuse Police Dept. and officer Tom Blake, EMS Syracuse Police Dept. speak to the class about ballistics, picking up where we left off yesterday.

Demonstrative Bullet Theory (FBI study)[18] – physics;
We get a more in-depth education about ballistics vs. myths. The officers explain some common outcomes of violent encounters, including physiological effects.

Physiological Reactions to Stress:
Focus is on the threat only
Auditory exclusion
Tunnel vision
Memory loss/exclusion – the mind is focused primarily on life-saving skills
Time Distortion – “it seemed like I was fighting with the subject for many minutes…”

“Push in when others won’t” – The First Responders Credo?

“Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

A tool for law enforcement is discussed that lies in the less-lethal category, the Taser.

Taser: provides neuro-muscular incapacitation.

Many think that this is ‘the answer’ in the less-lethal arsenal that is available to many officers. Many don’t carry it. There is specialized training, and typically very few officers are outfitted with this ‘weapon.’ It’s also not always effective. Watch the YouTube videos where it doesn’t work, you will be surprised based on what you think you know about this tool. Learn about the mechanics of this tool first, and then understand why it doesn’t always work. There are lots of extenuating circumstances – clothing and ingestion are but two to consider.

Ballistics are discussed again comparing fantasy vs. reality centering around what it feels like being hit with a bullet.

“Getting hit by a round is like getting hit with a 90mph fast ball (citing being hit with a .45 caliber round.)”

Physiological responses:
Increased pain thresholds – one result of an adrenalin chemical dump
4-6° total focus ability under stress (thumbnail @ arms length 2-3°)
Sweat helps with your ability to grip
Memory loss – typical recovery time involves a 72 hour hold for officers after any UODF incident and before making any statements

The amygdala produces hormones that impact memory
R. Douglas Fields, PhD.: ‘Why We Snap’ book is suggested.

John Boyd’s OODA Loop – decisions take time

 Effects of high stress on performance:
“You can’t process all the available information ‘in the moment.’”

Daniel J. Simons 1999[19]:
This research provides us with another new term for a common occurrence known as ‘Selective Memory Distortion’ or inattentional blindness.

Watch this video, and take the test actively.

This next video demonstrates and destroys the myths associated with ballistics effects that we have been ‘taught’ by watching and buying into the Hollywood Fantasy action-dramas.

Pre-incident indicators:

Subject’s car is not onto the shoulder of the road as typically expected
Fighting or running
Subject out of car
Subject’s hands behind his back
Subject’s stance – appears to be confrontational
Subject approaches officer
Subject draws, fires and reloads – dies 1.5 miles down the road!

Here’s another view with commentary:

We receive more data pertaining to time constraints and ability to draw a gun.

[POINT 06] Low ready firing position: Weapon is deployed and ready to fire and at a 45° downward angle, pointed in a safe direction. It would still take .08sec to raise, aim and fire the weapon.

It takes .25sec to draw the weapon from a single retention holster w/o firing

It takes .07sec to fire the 1st round is the FASTEST w/a single retention level holster

Single vs. Triple retention holster: .9sec is the FASTEST to fire the 1st round;

Action vs. Reaction Demonstration

Watch for Break of knee and opposite shoulder movement – pre/mid incident cues. Pay attention to slight body movements

Officer Mike Musengo – Firearms Instructor

All recruits are asked “Why are you taking the job?”

There are 3 things to consider in every encounter: space, time and options.

Officer Musengo educates us on what is known as the Priority of Life code.

Priority of Life (Hostage/Active Shooter situations):

Simply put the “Priority of Life” is demonstrated in this order:

‘Die Well’ thoughts

‘Stress Inoculation
Training with a purpose to work better under stressful circumstances.

Sanctity of Life
“In religion and ethics, inviolability or sanctity of life is a principle of implied protection regarding aspects of sentient life which are said to be holy, sacred, or otherwise of such value that they are not to be violated.”

Hard Skills => Training

Soft Skills => Planning, predicting

Officer Musengo references ‘Name That Tune’ as an example to help officers in training locate gunfire using the number of shots fired as a tool. “I can tell you where they came from in 3 shots!” as an example. This provides a very interesting insight into how an officer might be able to hone his skills to determine the source of ‘shots fired.’

We then speak more about verbal de-escalation.

De-escalation only works if:
1) You make contact
2) Rapport is established
3) You are able to influence the other party

Excited Delirium:
“Facial smashing is part of Excited Delirium (self-abuse/cutting).”

In my experience, I can’t tell you if I’ve ever seen diagnosed cases of Excited Delirium per se but I have seen cases and individuals that I might qualify as such and which truly resembled it. These individuals could be considered to display anomalies similar in nature to symptoms of diagnosed E.D. – possibly due to their ingestion of some very specific street drugs. They all displayed erratic and bizarre behavior, were of a combative nature, they were spouting things that made no sense to anyone involved, they were profusely sweating, they all had a tendency to strip clothing off, they were mostly highly agitated (mania), they all had an inability to listen, and they all had an inability to cease their agitated state. I can tell you that it’s not something you forget – ever. You will know it when you see it again.

Dealing with it is also a huge issue. There are not many options available to civilians. You do the best you can, and hope that it’s helpful and perhaps enough. I don’t believe their intent is to harm anyone, but having years of experience with this, it’s going to happen – to you, to them, to others trying to be of assistance. The best way is to try to control & constrain, then medicate. Over the last year or so, when it was too much, and the standard drug regimen proved ineffective, they could be intubated for safety reasons – so that they don’t hurt themselves as much as for the safety of staff.

West Palm Beach (COPS) 2001-04[20]
This video shows what it’s like to deal with a highly combative subject experiencing Excited Delirium. The subject was subsequently cuffed after struggling with several officers for several minutes. By the time they were able to get him under control, and cuffed, he stopped responding to officers. The officers were unable to revive him with CPR. This death resulted in changes to policy regarding Excited Delirium cases nationwide.

Some of the changes are listed here:
1] Decision: ‘no hands-on if possible.’ This subject walked out into traffic, and officers had to respond with hands-on to get him to comply to orders. When he was unresponsive to complying, they have a choice but to go hands on for his safety.

2] Decision: Use 2 sets of handcuffs on subjects experiencing Excited Delirium. It was found that because of the size of this subject, one set of standard handcuffs was too restrictive with and coupled with his dead weight (as a result of his condition. It was also unknown if he had ingested anything), they were unable to get the one set of handcuffs off quickly enough to enable them to start effective CPR procedures.

3] Decision: The ‘standard’ 5/2 compressions to breaths was changed to 30/2 compressions to breaths.

Appleton Police 061509 video[21]
Excited Delirium case #2.
This video shows a similar case, but where the subject was in a manic state, and yet somewhat cooperative. There are many differences and yet they still both display similar behavior and symptoms. They both had a limited ability to ‘listen and process’ certain things being said.

In Conclusion:
The sheer amount of information that was presented here and that I have researched and found on my own is staggering. And yet, I have only begun to understand more with a little bit of research and reading. No, I have not read every case law reference to try to better understand it. I have not even been able to digest that which I wrote down several weeks ago in class!

My goal here was to provide you with a ‘working outline’ with the hope that you will read through it, do some of your own research, and perhaps gain a better and more complete understanding of what our officers may face daily to protect us.

We truly have no idea. Part of the blame belongs to the media who have done so much damage to an honorable profession with none of the research perhaps, or have only published articles that were not thoroughly researched, and that is my problem. How can we believe anything that we are told by the media about ‘police action’ if after reading this article you have a whole new understanding of what’s really involved, and yet it’s just a glimpse into some of the material that our officers must digest and understand before heading out to do their duty?

Police Officer Wallie Howard Jr.
EOW: October 30, 1990

“Officer Wallie Howard Jr. was shot and killed during an undercover drug investigation. He was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and was attempting to purchase narcotics from two drug dealers for $42,000 in cash. The two suspects shot and killed Officer Howard as they attempted to rob him of the money.”

The price an officer paid to serve his community. Thank you for your service.

Robert K. Koga, L.A.P.D., Ret.

Robert K. Koga deserves special mention for his work in law enforcement and for his seminal work in training specifically devised and designed for police officers in the 60’s. Robert developed weaponless control techniques (less lethal options) as well as baton and small baton techniques for the Los Angeles Police Department while serving as an officer from 1955 to 1979. He continued to teach his methods to law enforcement well after retirement.

Thank you Rory Miller for planting the seed that led me to this training.

Personal thanks to Officer Dennis Burlingame for extending the invitation.
It was a game changer in many ways sir, thank you!

Kudos and special thanks also to Detectives Derek McGork and Mark Rusin, Officer Mike Musengo, Officer McReynolds and to all of the other officers that volunteered their personal time and specialized talents to share and demonstrate their skills, skills that are utilized to keep all of their sisters and brothers in blue safe.

Lastly, to Chief Frank Fowler for supporting this concept and program and for inviting the public-at-large to attend and participate – hoping to change our futures! Chief, this is my end of the promise – to go forth and educate. I hope it meets with your approval and meets or perhaps exceeds your expectations.

“what we think we know vs. what the facts really are.”

Now we know… more. Let the understanding begin…

Tim Boehlert ©Copyright 2017

Active aggression:
“a threat or overt act of an assault (through physical or verbal means) coupled with present ability to carry out the threat or assault which reasonably indicates that an assault or injury to any person is imminent.”

Active non-compliance:
“any physical acts against an officer that could reasonably defeat a lawful attempt by the officer to gain control.”

Alpha vs. Beta commands:
“Alpha commands are concise: “Stop playing.”
Beta commands are 1) easy to dismiss or 2) too difficult to comply with.”

Altered Mental Status (AMS):
“is a disruption in how your brain works that causes a change in behavior. This change can happen suddenly or over days. AMS ranges from slight confusion to total disorientation and increased sleepiness to coma.”

Case law:
“the law as established by the outcome of former cases.”

Custodial interrogation:
“In United States criminal law, a custodial interrogation (or, generally, custodial situation) is a situation in which the suspect’s freedom of movement is restrained, even if he is not under arrest.”

Deadly Physical Threat:
“imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Demonstrative Bullet Theory: (FBI Study)
Fact-finding that dispels the myth: “one shot, one kill” through the demonstration of ballistics testing.

Duty To Act:
“The term Duty to Act is a legal term that defines an individual or organization’s legal requirement to take action to prevent harm to a person or the community as a whole.”

Emotionally Disturbed Person: (EDP)
“appears to be mentally ill or temporarily deranged and is conducting himself in a manner which a police officer reasonably believes is likely to result in serious injury to himself or others.”

Excited Delirium:
“Excited delirium is a controversial proposed condition that manifests as a combination of delirium, psychomotor agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, speech disturbances, disorientation, violent and bizarre behavior, insensitivity to pain, elevated body temperature, and superhuman strength.”

Founded suspicion:
Where an officer needs only to justify their actions by demonstrating one or more objective facts that would create reasonable suspicion.

High-crime area:
“High crime areas can be described as an extension of the more commonly discussed hot spots. Although there is no widely accepted definition of a hot spot, for the purposes of this paper, it is defined as a group of similar crimes committed by one or more individuals at locations within close proximity to one another (International Association of Crime Analysts, 2011).”

Human Performance Factors:
Here are a few factors to consider: lack of communication, complacency, lack of knowledge, distraction, fatigue, lack of resources, pressure, lack of assertiveness, stress, lack of awareness.

Implicit Bias:
“Understood though not clearly or directly stated tendency to believe some ideas are better than others.”

Inattentional blindness:
“Inattentional blindness, also known as perceptual blindness, is a psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any vision defects or deficits. It may be further defined as the event in which an individual fails to recognize an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight.”

‘In the moment’:
“totally, completely, 100% immersed in the situation at hand… with no care, worry or thought of anything else in your life/the lives of others.”

Investigative action:
“any type of investigation, or lawsuit.”

Objectively Reasonable:
“In Graham v. Connor (1989), the U.S. Supreme Court answered these questions. The Supreme Court ruled that police use of force must be “objectively reasonable” — that an officer’s actions were reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him, without regard to his underlying intent or motivation.”

OODA Loop:
“The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations.”

Passive non-compliance:
“non-violent, does not pose an immediate threat to the officer or public.”

Pre-assault indicators:
“specific nonverbal signals communicated by perpetrators that suggest nefarious intent.” Jim Glennon,

Pre-incident indicators:
“We get a signal prior to violence,” Gavin de Becker says. “There are pre-incident indicators. Things that happen before violence occurs.”

Procedural Justice Ideals:
“Procedural justice is the idea of fairness in the processes that resolve disputes and allocate resources.”

Reality Based Training:
“Reality Based Training is defined as any type of simulation training that prepares an individual for future performance through experiential learning.”

Selective Memory Distortion:
“Memory distortions occur when retrieval of memories are incorrect and information is remembered in a different way than what actually occurred. People reconstruct the past from a variety of sources and mental processes. These processes are far from perfect with individual differences, experiences, and differing perceptions influencing how we reconstruct previous events. Mental distortions are caused by cognitive processes that influence our memory function.”

Specific and articulable facts:
“The officer must have more than a hunch, or gut-feeling, to conduct an investigative detention and search. The legal standard requires officers to have a reasonable belief that is based on specific and articulable facts. Thus, the officer, in a court of law, must be able to describe in detail what caused their officer ears to perk up and alert them to criminal activity. Generally, some of these factors are (1) flight; (2) suspicious movement; (3) threats and attempts to resist; and (4) intoxication.”

Standard reasonable cause:
“To have knowledge of facts which, although not amounting to direct knowledge, would cause a reasonable person, knowing the same facts, to reasonably conclude the same thing.”

Terry Stop:
“Involves detaining a person by a police on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.”

Totality of circumstances:
“A totality of the circumstances standard suggests that there is no single deciding factor, that one must consider all the facts, the context, and conclude from the whole picture whether there is probable cause, or whether an alleged detention is really a detention, or whether a citizen acted under color of law.”

Unconscious bias:
“Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick.”

Under color of employment:
“In general, color of law is a broad term used to describe when someone is working in their official capacity for a governmental agency. Anyone who works for a governmental agency is potentially subject to a section 1983 civil rights violation suit.”

Use of Force continuum:
“A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officers and civilians with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation.” In some ways, it is similar to the U.S. military’s escalation of force (EOF).”

Use of Force Model:
UOF models were developed in 1991 by Dr. Franklin Graves, FLETC & Professor Gregory J. Connor, University of Illinois Police Training Institute.

 “These policies describe a escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a situation. This continuum generally has many levels, and officers are instructed to respond with a level of force appropriate to the situation at hand, acknowledging that the officer may move from one part of the continuum to another in a matter of seconds.”

[1]Terry Stops

[2]Terry vs. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)

[3]People vs. Debour, 40 NY2d 210 (1976)

[4]People v Cantor, 36 NY 2d 106, 112-113 (1957)

[5]People v Brown   115 AD3d (1st Dept. 2014)

[6]People v Thomas 115 AD3d (1st Dept. 2014)

[7]People v Chestnut 51 NY2d 14 (1980)

[8]Scott v Harris 550 U.S. 372, 2007

[9]Fourth Amendment

[10]Brendlin v California 51 U.S. 249

[11]Article 35.30

[12]Burchett v Kiefer 310 F. 3d 937- 6th Circuit

[13]Johnson v Glick,_LLC/Additional_Police_Training_files/Use%20of%20Force.pdf

[14]Tennessee v Garner

[15]Graham v Connor

[16]Objective Test: Reasonable Officer

[17]Shreveport, LA video 03/15/2003 – justified shoot

[18]Demonstrative Bullet Theory (FBI study)

[19]Daniel J. Simons 1999

[20]West Palm Beach (COPS) 2001-04(?)

[21]Appleton Police 061509 videoEDP (Emotionally Disturbed Person)–Jefferson%20Street%20Video.pdf

RESOURCES (for further research):
Albrecht, Steve
Surviving Street Patrol: The Officer’s Guide To Safe And Effective Policing

Tactical Perfection For Street Cops: Survival Tactics For Field Contacts, Dangerous Calls And Special Arrests

Street Work: The Way To Police Officer Safety And Survival

Patrol Cop: Better, Safer, Smarter Field Work in Law Enforcement

Artwohl, Alexis A., Dr./Christensen, Loren W.
Deadly Force Encounters: What Cops Need To Know to Mentally and Physically Prepare for and Survive a Gunfight

Asken, Michael J.
Mindsighting: Mental Toughness For Police Officers In High Stress Situations

Brooks, Pierce R.
“…officer down, code three.”

Christensen, Loren W.
Skid Row Beat: A Street Cop’s Walk On The Wild Side

Riot: A Behind-The-Barricades Tour of Mobs, Riot Cops, and the Chaos of Crowd Violence

The Mental Edge, Revised

The Way of the Warrior: The Violent Side

Davis, Kevin R.
Use Of Force Investigations: A Manual For Law Enforcement

de Becker, Gavin
The Gift Of Fear And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence

Ekman, Paul/Friesen, Wallace V.
Unmasking The Face – A Guide To Recognizing Emotions From Facial Expressions

Giduck, John/Maj. Joseph M. Bail, Jr.
Shooter Down: Virginia Tech Massacre

Glennon, Lt. Jim
Arresting Communication: Essential Interaction Skills For Law Enforcement

Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col.
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

Grossman, Dave, Lt. Col./Christensen, Loren W.
On Combat: The Psychology And Physiology Of Deadly Conflict In War And In Peace 3rd Edition

Gundersen, D.F./Hopper, Robert
Communication and Law Enforcement

Hare, Robert D., PhD.
Without Conscience: The Disturbing World Of The Psychopaths Among Us

Klein, Gary
Seeing What Others Don’t – The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights

Koga, Robert K./Pelkey, William L., Ph.D.
Controlling Force: A Primer For Law Enforcement Third Edition

Lagarde, Col. Louis A.
Gunshot Injuries: How They Are Inflicted, Their Complications and Treatment

MacYoung, Marc
In The Name of Self-Defense: When It’s Worth It, What It Costs

Matsumoto, David/Frank, Mark G./Hwang, Hyisung
Nonverbal Communication: Science and Applications

Miller, Rory
Conflict Communications: A New Paradigm in Conscious Communications

Violence: A Writer’s Guide Second Edition

The Logic of Violence: Think Like A Criminal DVD

Facing Violence: Preparing For The Unexpected – Ethically, Emotionally, Physically, Without Going To Prison

Meditations On Violence: A Comparison Of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence

Force Decisions: A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force

Miller, Rory/Kane, Lawrence A.
Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-Making Under Threat of Violence

Morris, Desmond
Bodytalk: The Meaning Of Human Gestures

People Watching: The Desmond Morris Guide To Body Language

Mroz, Ralph
Tactical Defensive Training For Real-Life Encounters: Practical Self-Preservation For Law Enforcement

Murray, Kenneth R.
Training At The Speed of Life: Volume One The Definitive Textbook for Military and Law Enforcement Reality Based Training w/CD

Navarro, Joe
Body Language Essentials

What Every BODY is Saying (First Edition)

Clues To Deceit – A Practical List

Dangerous Personalities

Remsberg, Charles
Tactics for Criminal Patrol: Vehicle Stops, Drug Discovery & Officer Survival

The Tactical Edge: Surviving High-Risk Patrol

Street Survival: Tactics For Armed Encounters

Blood Lessons: What Cops Learn From Life-Or-Death Encounters

Siddle, Bruce K.
Sharpening The Warrior’s Edge: The Psychology & Science of Training

Thompson, George J.
Verbal Judo: Redirecting Behavior With Words

Verbal Judo: Words as a Force Option

Van Horne, Patrick/Riley, Jason A.
Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life

FREE Download here: >> A_Duty_to_Act

Options for Police Officers During A Traffic Stop

Options for Police Officers During A Traffic Stop

© Copyright 2017 Dan Donzella & 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 firmly believe compliance of a suspect relies solely on the experience of the officer. Use of a baton correctly can be useful also, but too many times the public sees that as just an unjustified beating. That can be very bad for a department’s reputation. Use of levers and knowing how the body works is the future of training. Other countries are already way ahead of the U.S. in this process because of their lack of firearms.

TB: I have not heard anyone say that before – and in those specific terms to be exact. It’s taken me more than a few years to understand the levers/body equation and how that knowledge can be more useful to us. It took me about two years to come to terms with that and reset my compass to that path – learning more about body mechanics and math vs. muscle and strength. Sometimes it still looks bad though, even when it’s not. How do you address ‘how it looks’ issues?

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.

© Copyright 2017 Dan Donzella & Tim Boehlert

Math and Science in the Martial Arts

Math and Science in the Martial Arts

© Copyright 2017, 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 Purple Belt 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 heart or nimble of mind!

[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 solutions.

Tools to Combat the Issues of Complacency vs. Reality

Tools to Combat the Issues of Complacency vs. Reality
© Copyright, 2017 tim boehlert w/matt swartz, NYSP, Ret.

The Seeds of Enlightenment
I had a very interesting talk with my Sensei yesterday when discussing a book that we are working on. It will be about HIS Martial Arts, and his seminal contribution to Reality Based Training – Kapap.

While talking we were discussing how some Martial Artists have gotten a bit away from the reality of what they are ‘training for’ and teaching it to others as the truth.

He spoke for several minutes about the efficacy of their goal. He has found a very sobering and straightforward way to open their eyes to what they might really face. Reality. It’s nothing like what they think it is or will be.

His solution got me to thinking and I asked, “do you think that they’ve become too comfortable working with willing uke’s and the safe ‘sport’ rules adhered to in training in their home Dojo’s, and the rules generally extended to visiting ‘teachers?’

My sensei replied: “Yes, exactly.”

There’s nothing more sobering than seeing what the realities of ‘your art’ are when used in the capable hands of an untrained assailant – one that doesn’t follow the rules that you follow. The reality is that you don’t need to be an expert to prevail – it’s proven that un-trained people are every bit as capable and often even more so – because they don’t follow the rules. They aren’t going to follow your conventions, your body movements, your flow drills. They’re going to kill you by using your ego and ignorance to this fact against you.

Of course, this is nothing new, but over the last 9 years that I have been involved with Martial Arts, I had a gut feeling based on my reality – dealing with non-compliant types on a daily basis.

I write this article to speak to this unspoken and deadly issue. Not to offend anyone for the sake of doing so, but to make those that continue to delude themselves stop and think. Think hard.

The Concept of Change
Think about this concept. You feel very strongly about a subject that’s important to who you are. Using this subject as an example, I propose that you can change either side’s viewpoint through education.

There is a universal way to get a portion of the other side (differing viewpoint) to change their minds about this subject. If you are pro or con doesn’t matter, it only matters that you can be persuaded to at least consider changing your stance. It won’t take more than a minute or two to do this effectively. That solution is education.

I can think of many subjects where this would be effective – hot topics all, but the method would work as effectively.

Testing… testing… is this thing on?
I’ve read more than a few articles and books about de-humanizing people, soldiers specifically, but it could/would work on most any civilian.

To make change happen, sometimes it forces us to endure and experience things that make us uncomfortable. Viewing real violence makes us uncomfortable, and it can do so on many levels –psychologically, and physically. It changes us, and we can’t ‘un-see’ it. It may lie dormant, never to be seen again, or it may have an instantaneous effect. It may simmer for now and be triggered at a later date. But undeniably it changes us.

Now the reality is that humans are very crafty and capable creatures – we can love and yet hate. We can create beautiful things and yet be capable of destroying those very same things.

We’ve had millennia of striving to become civilized, and yet we still possess the universal instinct of survival – it is after all what keeps us alive and allows us to propagate the species, and yet it’s not going away anytime soon.

For too many years we have been spoon-fed another reality though – through the glass teat we know as ‘TV.’ For many years, Police agencies have had the daunting task of trying to wipe that slate clean in the brains of our young officer recruits. Think: Hollywood vs. Science. As an example I offer: When shot the bad guy always dies right away, but only after being forced backwards by the impact of the bullet(s). The reality is: it doesn’t happen like that.

Erasing Our Alternate-Facts Realities
I recently attended a Civilian Police Academy – the first of it’s kind in my area, to my knowledge. It was an invite-only affair, and the main qualification for this no-fee three day, 10-hour course was that you’d agree to attend all three days. Class size was limited to 35 students, and we represented not only the curious and willing, but also a very diverse group of community activists, professionals, and just plain civilians.

The primary objective was to educate the public – and I’d guess to turn their heads away from the misleading and outright deceitful rhetoric coming out of that TV and/or in print or social media about the truth and facts of Police Use of Force Incidents.

To their credit, it was always truthful and very enlightening. As you might not have guessed it was also open to any questions and the officers were willing to answer without hesitation. They did so in a positive manner and never once took it as you’d face an opponent, but as you’d face a partner. I would not have thought this possible. They were passionate and educated. The young officer that was the primary speaker had a depth of knowledge that was comforting to me. It made me curious, as I haven’t spoken with too many people that possess that level of depth and knowledge about violence.

My resources have brought me to a new level of education on violence, and I’ve coupled that with more than 8 years of real-world violence interaction.

Day One – Planting the Seeds
During the first night, Use of Force against a citizen was the opening salvo. One participant felt very strongly about the subject of shooting citizens, and spoke out – “why can’t you just shoot him in the legs?”

And so the journey to enlightenment began. By the end of day 3, it wasn’t an issue anymore for this student. Her viewpoint had been changed, not without a bit of effort, but changed nonetheless. She had been educated.

Now think about what we as Martial Artists do. Many of us are equally indoctrinated into a specific way of thinking. I grant that much of this is due to and out of respect to ‘never question the sensei’, ignorance, and /or personal moral viewpoints – pick your poison. We’ve all done it, and likely continue to do it – until we become enlightened. Until we see or experience that irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

It may come in the form of being beat by someone smaller than you, or even at a belt level or two below you. It really doesn’t matter other than the fact that if it doesn’t happen, you will continue on your path until it does, and let’s hope that’s not too far down the road from and for you today. I hope this article at least convinces you to start down that path – to educate yourself, and to face the ugly truth. You have not been training for reality, but merely playing in a fantasy of what you think reality is.

Indoctrination Principle
As an example, and getting back to my reading/research, you may have heard of the word ‘othering’? This happens during indoctrination and it’s a way to change your viewpoint to create a precept for direct action against another human being in this case. We’ve all been indoctrinated in some form and at one time or another, but most likely we’ve been exposed to indoctrination continually throughout our lives. It starts in childhood, and continues through adulthood. We go along with it until we no longer do so based on the reality of our experiences and or re-education.

To make soldiers ‘perform’ better, it was determined that they needed to change their way of thinking and feeling – in order to become better and more effective killing machines. To do so, meant learning first what makes them tick, and then learning how to manipulate their thoughts and feelings about the enemy. Simple. But was it truly effective? It’s hard to give a detailed answer. Because effective is also a multiplier – it may have helped with the math side, but the soldiers were broken. The numbers may have given them better results, but at what cost?

During the Viet Nam War, the military machine expanded their indoctrination efforts of our soldiers to great effect. It was done so, but only after the research that was done after WII by S.L.A. Marshall as revealed in Lt. Dave Grossman’s book titled ‘On Killing.’

Our soldiers, young and old were taught to hate the enemy and to ‘other’ them using simple concepts, and by using very simple triggers – words and images. They were taught to treat the enemy as less than human. This type of indoctrination can be very effective, and its ramifications are far-reaching, and go beyond it’s use on the battlefield.

(I suggest that you locate and read Col. Dave Grossman’s book titled ‘On Killing’ for more background and education on this subject as one resource example that comes immediately to mind. It’s enlightening for several reasons.)

What we learn in the typical Dojo environment are many new things: classical ‘respect’, classical kata, and yet we learn a lot of very bad habits as well. We train to control our power, to pull our strikes and kicks, to stop after a point is scored by your partner during sparring sessions, and even to hand over the weapon after you’ve been able to seize it during weapons sessions.

‘Train as you fight, fight as you train’ has become an all too common call to ‘arms’ for far too many Martial Artists and Self-Defense ‘experts’. We have deluded ourselves by using titles to demonstrate our mastery of an art to the uninitiated. Think about this slogan. Tear it apart, and really read it. It’s a special kind of stupid when you really take all of the emotional and egotistical baggage out. ‘Other’ it. Let go of your personal viewpoint and just really get the concept of what I’m telling you here and why the slogan really makes no sense. I hope you can, but many won’t take that challenge easily or willingly.

Fear-Based Marketing
By teaching our students using slogans akin to this one – words that sound cool and make great bumper stickers, or ‘wall’ banners for our social media pages, is it any stretch of the imagination to see the indoctrination principle of marketing slogans like this? “The most deadly art?”, “Krav Maga as taught to the IDF”, “Fight Like a Navy Seal” and other juicy morsels that all have one thing in common – to separate you from your money. “Fear-based Marketing 101.”

In defense of slogans and marketing ploys like this, there really are some ‘systems’ out there that are better than others, yet it’s still all context sensitive. If you are a student that is in fear of what the world has to offer, you’ll likely get sucked in. There is no shame in that, and that’s why it’s good and effective marketing. Been there and done that, for my own reasons, and yes fear is/was a strong selling point.

So what really is the likelihood that you’re going to draw your weapon on someone – let’s just say a gun? Have you researched the legal ability to do so? Have you thought about what it may cost you? Here I strongly suggest that you find and read Marc MacYoung’s book titled ‘In the Name of Self-Defense.’ Do it now if you haven’t already done so. It’s going to not only open your eyes, even if you think you know it all – but it’s going to change your perspective – for the better. It’s what truth looks like, from the perspective of a real-life ‘master of violence.’ That’s not his title, but it could be. Marc makes you look strong and hard at the ugly. He’s seen it, and even done it. He’s here to educate you – but only if you’re smart enough to seek him out.

Now go back and read ‘On Killing’ after you’ve read Marc’s excellent book. Explore your psychological ability to wield that tremendous tool against another human being. I caution you that reality is ahead.

So, these are but two insights and references to get you more up to speed. Do yourself a favor now, and digest that for more than the time it takes to read it. Let it simmer for several days. Contemplate what has been offered up in these two excellent resources.

I can point you to several other excellent reads as well:

  • Alexis Artwohl, PH.D. & Loren W. Christensen’s book titled ‘Deadly Force Encounters’
  • Charles Remsberg’s book titled ‘Street Survival’

Educate your mind further. This stuff is enlightening, and uncomfortable at the same time. My goal is to make you face that uncomfortable side of this equation. Look into it deep and hard, and then ask yourself – could I do violence to another human being using my skills and weapon of choice? Can I draw a weapon and use it to stop another human being from existing. It’s not an easy mirror to look into. There are no right or easy answers, but if you don’t ask the question(s), you won’t have the answers if and when you may need them the most.

An Effective Alternate-Facts Cure
So, the ‘cure’ for some of this is to change how and what we study and teach and maybe when. Today, stop and figure this out for yourself, and more importantly for those you are responsible for and to – you, your family and your students.

In Kapap we say “I’d rather be a student of reality, than a master of illusion.” A very responsible and appropriate slogan in context of the purpose of this article.

If you want to test your mettle, educate yourself – read and understand things that make you uncomfortable. If it’s difficult to look into that mirror and honestly assess your ability to do what you are practicing to do to another human being without remorse, you are the bad guy. I’m not saying there may not come a time, or that you may be justified in doing so – it all depends on circumstances and context, but reality isn’t something you go into unprepared. And how does one prepare to take another’s life? Indoctrination. Which leads to a false sense of skill and ability, up and until reality shows up and shows you something you were never prepared for in the first place, then your fantasy world comes down around you. Your reality shatters and leaves you vulnerable, or worse.

The Gun Solution
If you fancy yourself a gun guy, do the research. Again, I suggest researching some of Marc MacYoung’s books – learn about the ‘Dead Man’s Ten’ study as just one example of what you are likely to face. Watch the YouTube videos of Police shoot-outs. These people are skilled practitioners as well, and in context.

Day Two – Witnessing Reality
On day two of the academy we were shown 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.


© Copyright 2017, tim boehlert w/matt swartz, NYSP, Ret.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Complacency vs rev4c.pdf

Complacency vs. Reality

I had a very interesting talk with my Sensei yesterday when discussing a book that we are working on. It will be about HIS Martial Arts, and his seminal contribution to Reality Based Training – Kapap.
While talking we were discussing how some Martial Artists have gotten a bit away from the reality of what they are ‘training for’ and teaching others as the truth.
He spoke for several minutes about the efficacy of their goal. He’s found a very sobering and straightforward way to open their eyes to what they might really face. It’s nothing like what they think it is or will be – it’s reality.
His solution got me to thinking and I asked, “do you think that they’ve become to comfortable working with willing uke’s and the safe ‘sport’ rules adhered to in their training in their home Dojo’s, and the rules generally extended to visiting ‘teachers?’
Yes, exactly.
There’s nothing more sobering than seeing what the realities are of ‘your art’ when used in the capable hands of an untrained assailant – one that doesn’t follow the rules that you follow. The reality is that you don’t need to be an expert to prevail – it’s proven that un-trained people are every bit as capable or more so – because they don’t follow the rules.
Of course, this is nothing new, but over the last 9 years that I have been re-involved with MA, I had a gut feeling based on my reality -dealing with non-compliant types on a daily basis.

I may write an article to speak to this. Not to offend anyone, but to make those that continue to delude themselves stop and think. Think hard.


The finished and complete article has been published in three installments at CRGI:

I had the able assistance of Matt Swartz in finishing and polishing these ideas off. Matt is a retired NYSP officer, whom I’ve had the pleasure of training with – both he and his wife Carla. Both good people and proud to know them both.