Safety First, Safety Last



What’s wrong in the Martial Arts industry today?

• At one defensive shooting academy, a firearms trainer shoots and wounds one of his own instructors.

• At other training facilities, students are routinely hospitalized with ‘training accidents.’

• There are systems in the Martial Arts marketplace that claim to produce the ‘Baddest,’ or ‘Deadliest’ students. One instructor even markets himself as a ‘Real-Deal Israeli… with blood on my hands.’

• If you search YouTube on the internet for firearms instruction you will see many that sell themselves as the iconic movie character Rambo.

• Some students and/or instructors walk around with multiple knives on their belts, which makes them look like Bob the Builder.

A firearms instructor that shot and injured one of his own instructors. This man has military experience, he trains LEO, military and civilians. He knows guns, so what happened? He fired four rounds down-range on another human, but only had three hits. One bullet to the hand, two bullets near center-mass. He missed with one bullet. Why? Would you assume that he is an expert in his field, based on who he trains? Couldn’t you also assume then that he’d know the difference between a live target and a stationary one? That he’d know his range-safety rules? What went wrong? While this a tragic example, it points out that an ‘expert’, may not be so.

In too many other training facilities, students are injured by over-enthusiastic instructors that let their egos dictate the lesson plan. Often ending up in an emergency room, because as trainers, they were not following good training standards.

Others sell their systems using good and/or bad marketing, depending on your point of view. It’s good marketing, as it relies heavily on people’s fear, and lack of education. There is a market for that. It also preys on their wish to be more than ‘wimps.’ Traditionally, this tactic has worked for years, but that does not make it right, or good. This marketing tactic ensures income, but at the expense of the students, and in many cases the instructors.

Do you really want to be the guy that walks around with 12 knives on your belt – Bob The Builder? If you found yourself in a real fight, are you prepared to share your knives with your enemy? How you will explain it, in your post-conflict phase, in court — why you had 12 knives on you for self-defense? You will be charged with murder, and find yourself unable to defend yourself claiming self-defense.

So, why all of the ego, and testosterone? Why the need to sell yourself based on a movie character? Anyone can call themselves an ‘expert’ these days and through effective marketing, they will put many students at risk. Far too many students are paying the price for this dubious marketing trend. In martial arts, all study should start with a good attitude. We must teach the proper attitude and the proper safety. It is our duty as instructors and educators. We teach martial arts. We are martial artists first and

last. With education in traditional martial arts, we wish to make it more ‘real’ to our students, not to promote it as a ‘B’ movie. We don’t require military fatigues and helmets to prove our methods and techniques work. Where would we face that? When we teach civilians, we should not mix our training with what might be taught in a Commando unit. Too many civilians want go out in public dressed with paramilitary uniforms, but when it comes to training hard, then they say ‘no thank you!’ If you really want to be a soldier, join the army!



At an industry awards dinner an award was presented to the ‘Best Self-Defense Instructor’ of the year. The winner was too afraid to go to his hotel alone, so he asked me to escort him. Is it reality, or an illusion? Unfortunately, many Reality-Based programs have nothing to do with reality anymore. Reality-Based martial arts got it’s start several years ago, and the ‘reality’ aspect has been copied, and diluted from it’s original intent. As one of the pioneers of Reality-Based martial arts, I coined the phrase “It is better to be a student of reality, than a master of illusion.” One system stated that “we are a combat system. We are not a traditional martial art. We are a no-nonsense martial art.” Another system describes itself as ‘non-sport’ Are they real?

Trainers may try to show off, but they forget the most important aspect: we are also Educators. With the recent popularity of Mixed Martial Arts, many have forgotten the differences between the Dojo and the Gym, the workout and the class. As teachers in martial arts, and yes, firearms are a part of KAPAP. Guns are evil – guns have only one purpose: to kill. So why do so many people try to get their pictures hugging guns? This is why I don’t like guns, but yes, I teach firearms to make sure people are safe if they use one.In KAPAP, our motto is ‘safety first, safety last.’


I never saw myself as soldier, even though I became an army Major. I always followed my heart, my common sense, my morals, my ethics and I also asked my students to follow theirs, to use their own brains. And that’s one of the things that makes KAPAP different. Question these marketing hooks:

Train as You Fight> 

It’s a catch-phrase that makes no sense. You cannot ever train as you would fight. If you were to train that way, you’d get hurt every time you trained. Would you really train with a sharp knife? How about a loaded handgun? You will get hurt or killed if you do. Guaranteed.

Don’t be a Victim> 

Why should you think of yourself as a victim? It’s a ploy to use your fear against you. It puts you in a bad mindset – failure. Fear is a good thing! You can use your fear to alert you to imminent threats. You can use your fear to avoid conflict. Why would that be a bad thing?

Don’t fall for bad marketing. Question ‘experts’ credentials. Learn the laws concerning self-defense as it applies to you and where you live. You will likely be surprised. Don’t be manipulated by marketing.


The triangle of teaching or study was developed with and after years of experience. Mistakes were made along the way, but we were lucky nothing bad happened, and we survived to change and develop better ideas based on the mistakes that had been made.

The basis is technique and drills. By studying the different techniques and linking them together to create different drills and play, we can then get to the top of the triangle, which is the fight. Unfortunately today, with MMA attitudes, many students want to start fighting before studying. This leads to a triangle with no base to fall back on. It means injuries, and accidents that need not happen.


As disturbing as these facts and trends are, there seems to be no imminent solutions either, unless we, as martial artists, step up, speak up and take corrective actions – for ourselves, and for our students. Being a martial artist should not be about profit at the expense of others. It should be about education, safety, respect, culture, morals, and common sense. Let’s elevate the Martial Arts as educators, not merely as instructors and trainers. It’s time for us to build a better future for all of the Martial Arts community.

“Keep the ego out of schools, keep an open mind and study.” 

Professor John Machado

“A good instructor teaches students how to fight, a great instructor teaches students how to live.” 

Richard Almeida

“It is better to be a student of reality, than a master of illusion.”

Avi Nardia

“It’s not the size of your stones, it’s what you build with them.”

Tim Boehlert 

Start building. Do your part to make a positive difference.

© Copyright, 2012 Avi Nardia & Tim Boehlert

Can We Tax or Legislate Away Intent?

Can We Tax or Legislate Away Intent?

I found this quote on Tony Blauer’s FaceBook wall this morning, that ties in directly with some thoughts that I’d had yesterday after addressing another quote that I also found on FaceBook and that I was compelled to respond to.:

“I don’t believe in Violence
               I don’t Worship Violence
               I just Practice it
Because I know others Live through Destruction
              And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
              People will vilify us, we know who we are though,
and why we do what we do!”

With all of the nonsense that surrounds each active-shooter event, I feel I have to keep putting counter responses out there to defend my position and my thoughts on the subject – to try and push education on people that aren’t ‘getting it.’ I’m often correcting lies, countering anti-gun rhetoric, defending my views on violence, and explaining the realities from a more informed position.

Our world has changed. Very specifically here in America it has started to go off the rails. There are many signs to that end, and it is all driven by agendas, hidden or otherwise. In my opinion, the media has been the primary perpetrator in that it continues to push its political agendas about guns, gun laws and gun ownership. But, it’s now also pushing its anti-police agenda, hard and often. The events, although related through a common element – guns, have raised the level of fear, and in doing so, have also allowed and even encouraged stupidity and outright deceit.

The media is shaping a whole generation to push their agenda that will set us up for failure, and relieve us of our rights, the right to own and bear arms. Not everyone is buying into this, but the fight is on. The propaganda war is getting heated, and they seem to have more money and thus influence on their side.

This week the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, was vilified as a terrorist on the front page of a major newspaper – alongside the images of several of the recent terrorists that were involved with mass-murders committed on U.S. soil. How has the media gone from responsible, professional reporting to pushing lies and deceit over the last 50 years?

This type of ‘reporting’ influences it’s readership, and is really nothing more than propaganda to push an agenda – outlaw guns and gun ownership. By using tragic events (read: highly emotionally charged) the media have over the last few years started a downward trend that seeks to strip Americans of their rights to bear firearms. Additionally they have gone after our law enforcement personnel – our Police agencies.

After a bank-robbery in Los Angeles, where the perpetrators wore full-body armor, and had prepared themselves with a lot of ammunition, automatic and semi-automatic weapons including long-guns, law enforcement assessed and evaluated the outcome and determined that they were outgunned, plain and simple. Two men were able to take on the Los Angeles Police Department and surrounding agencies and walk out of the bank and proceed to attempt to escape – even after thousands of rounds were expended to prevent them from doing so. Yes, they were outgunned, even though they had far superior numbers.

Since that time police agencies have geared up, trained up and prepared for events like that. Now with terrorism on our minds, the people have determined that maybe the police shouldn’t have access to militarized vehicles that the government kindly provided to them. Maybe ‘we’ should limit how much ammunition can be purchased, or the capacities of ammo magazines, and take back those vehicles that would protect our police – ‘we’ don’t want our police militarized!

I get some of that, but a lot of it makes my head spin. Understand that I am a lawful registered gun owner, but I don’t consider myself a gun nut at all. In fact, I seriously considered selling my firearm this year – after lawfully owning firearms for over 25 years! Recent events have convinced me otherwise. I am not overly pro-active, and don’t actively carry even though it’s within my right to do so when I’m off-duty. It makes me uncomfortable doing so – I have been swayed by public perception and opinion!

I allowed myself to be tempered by the opinions of others years ago when I was actively carrying. When some ‘friends’ found out, they’d go out of their way to draw attention to my weapon, or to the fact that I was armed. Not cool. Not cool at all. Instead of pushing back, I retired my sidearm to a closet. “Are you carrying?” “Got your gun on you tonight? in public, and in front of others to boot!

Well, times have changed, and the recent event in San Bernardino, California has gotten me to thinking once again. And I’m not alone. This week, the Sheriff of Ulster County, NY posted a ‘call to arms’ – he actually came out and asked gun owners to consider carrying their weapons in public. His rationale? If even one lawfully armed person is able to respond to an active-shooter before police can arrive, please do so.


Of course that raises a lot of red flags with the public! Suffice it to say that the floor is open, and the discussion is in full-swing! Others have followed suit.

I can see his point, and I can see the counter-points as well – it’s NOT easily solved.

I am not here to promote guns. I am here to promote smarter thinking though. Think about this for just a few minutes: would you allow a loved one to put themselves in harms way with no hope of survival? Well, you DO that every day. Someone you know, either directly or through your web of relationships will be THAT person: today, tomorrow if not next week, and very likely sometime this year. And you allow it to happen. Can you live with that? You have the ability to have your voice heard, the necessity to educate yourself further than what the media is providing you, and to change the outcome for many.

As the parent of a law enforcement officer, it’s hard to watch and not react. As one who is also responsible for the public-at-large, it’s mind-numbing how little security we can actually provide other than great customer service! We have almost no training, no real plan, and no pro-active stance. We are strictly in a reactive mode. That spells disaster If you ask me.

Why you may ask? There are many viewpoints. Consider this: guns make people uncomfortable, especially if it’s not in the holster of someone in uniform, but even then it makes you uncomfortable. Now consider this: how do you expect any of us to stop an armed assailant or multiple armed assailants without using equal or greater force?

Being responsible for the lives of thousands of people daily is becoming harder to do, and continuing to do the job is even harder to justify. My intent is to do whatever I am able to fulfill my commitment, but without the training, tools, and proper management structure and subsequent game-plans, you’re asking the impossible.

Let me share an incident in which I was placed just a few years ago. On our campus we had a possible active-shooter event. Someone had reported seeing a man outside one of our buildings, armed with what looked like a shotgun. Police were notified and responded. At least one officer was out on the grounds actively searching for the suspect – with his M5. The M5 is a tactical long-gun that our local PD was allocated for just-such events.

The campus was alerted via internal communications, we went into a very loose lockdown stance, and put a few of our officers out in harms way to actively search for this shooter. These men were not armed, nor trained to respond in this scenario, yet they did. I was asked to man a post in the area most likely for the shooter to target. I was ordered to sit in a lobby, near the front-door (mag locked), an all glass enclosure and instructed to watch four monitors that monitored the perimeter doors. Huh? Yeah, that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. ‘You want me to sit in front of a glass wall, and let you know when he’s AT the door?’ ‘How long do you think I will last?’ This was not a good idea by a very long stretch!

Of course, I did as I was told – that was the only thing I could do, morally.

So having been through that type of situation once, I can imagine more possible outcomes, and have had time to think about the whole event. I haven’t been able to better prepare, but maybe only mentally.

We can all imagine being a hero, but it’s not that at all. To me it’s about shutting down the violence, because that’s my vocation. It’s my duty. It’s the morally right thing to do. And I’m not alone. We do what we do for you, for your families, your friends, your neighbors.

If we’re willing to save your life, shouldn’t you at least allow us the tools necessary to do that? The training? And with a lot more understanding from you?

Yesterday, [12/03/2015], someone posted this quote on social media:

“We stopped cigarette advertising to prevent smoking, raised the cost of a pack
                 and taxed them to the sky perhaps the same can be done for guns… “

My two cents: Taxing or changing pricing will do nothing – if they’re desperate and resourceful enough, they will find a way, like smokers did and do, to use your analogy. Laws change nothing as well, in my opinion – only those willing to abide by them will adhere to them. My recollection of post-9/11 events: box cutters weren’t legislated out of existence. My proof is that I confiscate many each week from those individuals that try to bring them into our facility. It’s the INTENT and not the possession that is more of interest to me. Disarming US makes THEM more likely to use any means possible to do evil. I stand unarmed everyday to at least promote a vision of preparedness so that the public will feel a little more safe and at ease in a place that they SHOULD feel safe. Everyday I wonder – will it happen today? What will I do – with no training, no real support, no plan, and of course no ability to fight back that makes others feel comfortable. Guns makes people uncomfortable, but I see more knives everyday as a ‘norm’ – it’s part of our culture, and only recently has this become a social issue that raises alarm. The issue is too big for a few short ideas in a too-short forum such as this. Suffice it to say that I have to disagree based on my experience and knowledge. If we disarm ourselves, we surrender – which is what their goal has been since day one. Legislation will NOT change that. Propaganda – advertising or pre-legislation media blitzes are one and the same – selling an ideology for ‘our’ side. We’ve lost our morals, raised a generation of self-indulged children, and given EVERYONE the right to claim ‘I’m SPECIAL!” – without earning that and forget ever questioning that – that would be politically incorrect! I see bad behavior every – single – day. Entitlement ‘to do whatever I want, because….’ we need to change THAT. No laws will change someone unwilling to adhere to them, to respect them. It’s only their desire to do harm that gives them power over us while the rest of us line up like sheep… and strip away our rights and abilities to fight back, to defend, to live freely.

That’s how I responded to this particular post.

“I don’t believe in Violence

               I don’t Worship Violence
               I just Practice it
               Because I know others Live through Destruction
               And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
               People will vilify us, we know who we are though, and why we do what we do!”

I do believe in violence – in the sense that it’s a real, and apparently a sustainable thing. I believe in it because I have taught myself to practice it, and to advance my understanding of it, to examine it as if it were a tangible object. Why you may ask? To me it is. It is like any other thing that we wish to study and understand. It’s always present. It’s always around us, and it always happens – every minute of the day. We don’t see or hear about all of it, nor even a great percentage of it, but it’s there, and it did happen.

When it does happen, and if it happens when and where I can affect an outcome, that is my job. That is my profession. Yes, it is a profession. And I do consider myself a professional whose specialty is violence. I am not alone.

I don’t worship violence. I don’t like it, and it makes me very uncomfortable thinking about it, let alone participating in it – willingly no less!

I do practice it.

I do consider myself a professional. It’s about acknowledging violence, and then addressing it. To address it means to study it, to then deploy it as a tool to overcome it, and then to learn from each and every use of force.

I reassess after each use of force, constantly questioning many aspects of what had occurred. Why? Did I respond professionally? Did I let emotion dictate the response? Was the response justifiable? Will I be able to defend my response? Do you see where I’m going with this?

In a nutshell, I am always more afraid of judgment and punishment for doing my job, than doing my job. I’m always more afraid of what others think than what I think. This world has changed us to the point that ‘politically-correctness’ has turned into the auto-correct for the millenniums. We attempt to fix things using man-made algorithms – i.e., if a gun was involved, it’s the GUN that is at fault, not the shooter. Does this make sense?

So, in my quest to be better at what I do, to understand more fully, and to explore alternatives, I have consumed untold dollars and hours trying to get my head around something as simple (complex?) as violence.

So what to do?

I’ve found myself a pool of like-minded people that GET what I’m trying to do, PRACTICE some of what I do, and EDUCATE others that do what we do – only better. And to do that, I had to embrace violence.

What have I found along the way? A whole lot of misunderstanding, untruths, vitriol and sadly separation from family and friends. No one wants to hear about what you do. Everyone seems to live in a fantasy world about the violence that occurs all around them daily as it if doesn’t exist if they pretend not to look, hear, see, smell it.

As an example, every day – without exception – someone will walk by my post and say ‘You’ve got a cushy job! Must be nice!’ You can’t make them understand what you actually do when ‘you’re sitting around’, that would only make them more uncomfortable. If you tell them that you’re actually the ‘spotter’ today, the guy who’s job it is to look for weapons, they’d pale. Weapons? Here? Really? ‘Yeah, I take knives away every shift, and only the one’s I can see.’

             “…Because I know others Live through Destruction
              And I want to be Prepared When Our Paths Cross.
              People will vilify us, we know who we are though, and why we do what we do!”

I want to be prepared. I want to be there when I’m needed. I don’t want recognition, but I do expect understanding on a higher level than what we are currently subjected to by too many. We are vilified – because we do ‘stand on those walls so that you can sleep at night.’ We do know who we are, and why we do what we do. It’s for you – the complacent, and perhaps unthankful masses that judge us everyday because you don’t understand us, you haven’t done our job, and you don’t understand violence like we do.

We do what we do for you.

Violence occurs for many reasons. It’s been said that it is a form of communication – think about that. When you toss in emotion, it’s like napalm on and seeks to snuff out the logical arguments. It makes a communication a spectacular event! Now add beliefs. Belief is another incendiary component to communication. Combined with emotion you get a longer burn – before, during and after the fact. Maybe a hotter flame, but definitely a longer burn. Because, even after the event has passed, your brain is cranking out thoughts based on your beliefs.

What we are witnessing today, are poets. Disbursing emotion and belief as truths. Nothing could be further from it. You can’t tax or legislate away emotion or belief either.

To stop violence and violent acts, we need to be better at it than they.

See the media-circus for what it is – entertainment. Entertainment relies on two principle ingredients: emotion and belief. Enhance the first one and suspend the other one. We see it every newscast that comes out surrounding an event. You see and hear very little truth based on so few actual facts initially, and the race is on to get the story – at any cost, and screw the actual facts.

As I’m writing this CNN is showing reporters roaming freely around what should be a crime-scene. That’s how bad it’s gotten – the authorities are so afraid of being accused of a cover-up that they’re willing to compromise a crime scene of a mass-murder investigation ONE DAY after the event!

© Copyright 2015 tim boehlert