Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ronin Martial Arts Academy Wins U.S. Commerce Association 2011 Grand Rapids Award for Martial Arts Training

Thank you, thank you! I am honored to have won this prestigious award! In receiving this recognition I would like to thank my mom and dad, all of my mentors and of course all of those people who train at our academy!! 

Hold on, wait one cotton pickin' minute... Before my I get too big for my britches, we should talk about something first. Who is the U.S. Commerce Association anyway and how did I win this so called award? Well if you google this official sounding association you'll find out very quickly that it is one big scam to get business owners to buy these bogus awards. Tricky tricky! So business owners beware of this scam to pilfer your pocket books!

Have a good New Year all!

And as my grandad used to say, "Don't take any wooden nickles!"

All the best,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Stone Cutter of Notre Dame

Here I sit in one of my favorite coffee houses, sipping on my Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, listening to some Ronnie James Dio and reflecting about 2011 and of course looking forward to what 2012 has yet to bring! Before I go into too much detail about my thoughts let me tell you a little "Tie In Story." I call this one, "The Stone Cutter of Notre Dame." I don't remember where I picked this story up from, so for that reason forgive me if I don't recite it word for word. I changed the title and adapted things to suit both my purpose of telling it as well as my fading, sometimes ill tempered memory. So without any further ado:

"The Stone Cutter of Notre Dame"

One day the foreman of a very large stone query was out doing his rounds checking on all of the workers who were cutting stone into bricks that were to be used in constructing the great Cathedral of Notre Dame. As he walked he came across one of the workers grumbling and very unhappy with life. The foreman asked the worker what he was doing? To which the worker replied, "What's am I doing?! Isn't it obvious? I am working out here in the hot sun cutting these huge stones into bricks. It's back breaking work. And look around, no matter how many rocks I finish there are more rocks to chisel. This project is so immense it will never be finished in my lifetime. It's endless! So, if you would excuse me I have to get back to work."

Under normal circumstances the foreman would have fired the worker, but he had known this worker for a long time and knew he could be a bit cranky, however, he never missed a day and he did good work, so the foreman just smiled and agreed that carving stones into bricks was very hard work and kept moving.

As the foreman walked along he came upon a second worker who was also carving stone. Because of the response of the first worker the foreman was hesitant to ask the second worker what he was doing, but being that was his job, he asked all the same. Upon hearing the question the second worker replied, "What am I doing? I am supporting my family. Although the work is difficult and very taxing, it supports me and those I love, so I am thankful for it. And because this project is so large there is job security which makes me feel safe in knowing I will be able to provide for myself and my family for my entire life." 

To this the foreman nodded and agreed on all of his points, knowing that each was true.

Finally, before finishing his rounds the foreman came upon a third worker who was moving with conviction. Seeing his dedication the foreman asked him what he was doing? The third worker looked up from his work, brow red and sweating from the sun and replied, "I am carving the foundation to the great Cathedral of Notre Dame which will bring enlightenment, knowledge, and peace to many peoples lives for generations to come. I know that this project cannot be finished in my lifetime, which makes my job even more important. The efforts of others will be built upon my own, so you'll have to excuse me my friend for not chatting longer, but there is much work to do."

The foreman was at loss for words as he thought about the connection that this laborer felt to his own work and how that drove him to excel in everything he did. He began to understand how powerful perspective and belief was in everything we do.The deeper connections to our daily lives is what keeps us on track and motivated to continue on. It makes for a more fulfilling and prosperous path. 

Live, Protect, Inspire & of course... Enjoy the Ride!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari by Mushtaq Ali

Mushtaq & I at a SNDSTL 
[Secret Non-Disclosed Silat Training Location =]

Here is a good post entry I thought you would benefit from. Mushtaq Ali shares his "Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari." Although told in a lighthearted way, they are some seriously good principles of warriorship! Enjoy!

If you would like to read more of Mushtaq's insights check out his blog. The Traceless Warrior

The Twenty Rules of Silat Zulfikari 
by Mushtaq Ali

While these rules started out a bit "tongue in cheek", (someone asked me about the philosophical basis of Silat, I replied "I hit you". The rest, as they say, was history). So, for the edification of my students, and the amusement of my readers, I present to you

The Rules
(with commentary)

1. I hit you

"We are but a simple people."

It is good to always remember that the point of the exercise is to deliver energy in the form of destabilize shock to one's opponent. This may be in the form of a strike with the hand, elbow, knee, or the whole planet. It may also be in the form of a strike with the mind, using words, body language and such, but in combat things need to be kept simple, so "I hit you".

2. I don't get hit

Not getting hit means that your structure is good, and it also means that you can absorb and shed the shock your opponent tries to give you. Not getting hit also means that your intent is to protect yourself.

3. When in doubt, I hit

Rather than ruminating indecisively, deal with the situation. Do not be in denial about what is going on. Strike with the spirit, strike with the mind, strike with the body.

4. Centerline is MINE!

While there is the obvious meaning to this statement, keeping your structure so that you protect and control "centerline" between you and your opponent, there is a deeper meaning to this. Centerline is where you define it.

5. While we are on the subject, so is everything else

Own your whole space, utilize everything.

6. It's all in the Jurus

A juru is a series of bio-mechanical exercises grouped together in a closed kinetic chain. They contain the motions and teach the principles from which technique can be spontaneously generated. Jurus become more useful when one learns to open the chain.

7. My __fill in the blank____ are ___fill in the blank____ until they aren't

Don't get stuck in thinking that rules are anything more than guidelines, know when to break the rules to your best advantage.

8. Elbows DOWN!

Maintain good structure throughout your movement. Make sure that you are using proper power generation, don't give your opponent openings. Oh yes, and keep your elbows down.

9. If it goes physical, I WILL be the one who walks away.

Keep your priorities straight. If you have to act, do so with commitment. Not protecting yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you is a sin against yourself.

10. It ends NOW!

When you have to become physical, do so in a way that ends the confrontation in the quickest appropriate manner. Do not leave anything for later, don't win just this fight, win in such a way that you are not making future trouble for yourself. This could mean anything from NOT gloating over a victory to making sure your opponent knows that looking for a rematch is foolish.

11. How badly I hurt you depends on how much of a physical threat you offered me

Use only the degree of force necessary to the situation. If you are dealing with a drunk friend who is just getting a little out of line, breaking his arm is usually not what is needed. If you are attacked by a man with a knife, acting as if this is not a life or death encounter will get you killed.

12. I am so dangerous I can afford to be polite, reasonable and mellow.

Only the weak, the insecure and those who live in fear need to "woof" or show everyone how tough and dangerous they are. Always treat others with respect, strive to understand all points of view, never let yourself be controlled by negative emotion.

13. Gravity is my friend, on the other hand, it doesn't like you very much.

Use gravity to help power your movement and make your work easier by being supple, help your opponent to work against gravity by making his structure more dense. When appropriate hit your opponent with the ground.

14. I not only have the right to think at all times, but the responsibility to do so.

When you look around this planet, all the human problems you see may just be caused in large part by this one thing, giving over ones responsibility to think for themselves. If you're given the ability to do great damage to your fellows, then you MUST take responsibility and never let yourselves be controlled by unconscious memes.

There is an old saying, "If you make yourself into a donkey, there will always be someone willing to ride you."

15. When it feels too easy, then I am doing it right.

Good Silat is not about effort and strain, it is about integrating breath, movement and structure in such a way that what you do happens with an "effortless" flow.

16. Effective Silat means moving in four dimensions.

While some martial arts rely on two dimensions, forward and back, right and left, good Silat will use all dimensions of space, changing levels, taking the most useful vectors in relation to the opponent. Good Silat also uses time.

17. The strongest lever is the screw.

This is of course basic physics.

18. A screw moves circles through time and space.

If you don't understand this you are not doing good Silat.

19. Make sure your opponent is 'Screwed'.

Draw your opponent into the natural spirals of your movement. Use what the internal arts call "reeling silk energy", which is what is described in rule 18.

20. It's ALL Kebatinan

Kebatinan means "inner" or "secret" teachings. This rule was first articulated when a student asked, "so when do we start learning the Kebatinan (secret stuff)" To which I replied "It's ALL Kebatinan". Silat Zulfikari hides all its "secrets" in plain sight, in other words, you learn the "secrets" from the beginning. There is enough mystery in a "simple" strike that you can spend your life exploring it and never reach the end of new discoveries.

Written by Mushtaq Ali
 Traceless Warrior Blog

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Ethical Warrior: Are ethics tactical? by Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie

This is a great article on written by fellow RGI compadres Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie. A great article I thought you folks out there would benefit from as well. Click here for more about Resolution Group International.

Talk to you soon.



The Ethical Warrior: Are ethics tactical?

Our power to overcome danger is born from our duty to protect


Our recent article, “The Hunting Story,” tells how a simple soldier in the back of a truck was able to activate a feeling of human equality between relatively well-off Americans and destitute villagers in a poor, allied country with just a few words and a challenge. When asked to articulate why all people feel that their lives are equal he said, “I don't know why they value their lives so much. Maybe it's those snotty nosed kids or the women in the pantaloons. But whatever it is, they care about their lives and the lives of their loved ones, same as we do.”

Human equality and the “inalienable right to life,” are the bedrock premises underlying the Ethical Warrior concept. All other behaviors and cultures are relative, but the Life Value is universal. Certainly, we address illegal behavior — that’s our job. We absolutely don’t have to respect criminal values, but we still must respect the life of the criminal, or our enemies, if we are true ethical protectors. But that begs a few very important questions, including:
With such an emphasis on values — do we risk making LEOs “too ethical” to deal with immoral and implacable criminals?
Wouldn’t it be better only to focus on protecting our own lives and the lives of the innocent?
Don’t we put ourselves at additional risk by trying to also protect the “bad guys?
We agonized over these points in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) and it comes down to this: should Marines be trained as killers or protectors?
Are “protectors” as prepared for the realities of war as “killers?”
Will ethics training somehow make Marines “soft,” and less capable of accomplishing the mission?
When a Marine is in a fire fight with his sights on an insurgent who is shooting back, will he suddenly freeze, say to himself “that guy’s life and the life of his loved ones is as important to him as mine are to me,” and fail to pull the trigger?”
Law enforcement officers might very well ask themselves the same question and many have expressed to us their concern. Our Ethical Warrior approach has even been called, “not aggressive enough.” As a Marine and a soldier, rarely are we called not aggressive enough! So is being an Ethical Warrior too soft or not?
Anecdotally, one may hear both sides of the argument from sincere people who have “been there.” After a lot of thought, we still don’t know the answer definitively, but imagine the following scenarios:
1.) You are walking through a forest and you see a killer grizzly bear, would you be afraid? Almost definitely so.
2.) You are walking through a forest and see a grizzly bear with two cubs, would you be less afraid — or more? Most people would say “more afraid.” Why? Because, even in nature, it seems the protector is more dangerous than the killer.
The same seems to be the case in law enforcement. Obviously, good law enforcement officers don’t think of themselves as killers, but even if they only think of themselves as criminal-catchers, that perspective creates a certain mentality — the mentality of a collector of human garbage. You may even think that your approach must be just as ruthless as a criminal’s — only “different.” This, we believe, is a trap. Taking the approach that you must “out thug the thug,” may start to color your psyche in a very negative way. And it is not necessary. Protectors are more dangerous than thugs. We wholeheartedly believe that this is because their cause is purer and their bodies are stronger.

One of the definitions of the word “tactical” is: “a maneuver or plan of action designed as a way of gaining a desired end or advantage.” What is the desired end-state if faced with ending a violent encounter or taking a dangerous person into custody? It is to accomplish the lawful action while protecting ourselves, innocent others, and the criminal if possible. Of course, the desired end is not always possible and we may need to use appropriate force if the criminal poses an imminent threat. Force is used not just because we’re following departmental rules and guidelines, but out of a genuine desire to protect life. Just like the bear with cubs, our power to overcome danger is born from our duty to protect.

We believe an Ethical Warrior is not only more moral, but more psychologically — and tactically — powerful than a criminal. What is more fierce than well-trained, ethical law enforcement professionals engaged in the performance of their sworn duty to protect and defend the innocent people on their watch? We can’t think of anything. Can you?

By the way, it is no secret that Marines do pull the trigger when it is necessary to protect their lives, the lives of their fellow Marines, and the lives of others. As an Ethical Protector, you will, too.

This article was written for and can be found on

About the author:
Jack E. Hoban is president of Resolution Group International and a subject matter expert for the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Bruce J. Gourlie is a Special Agent of the FBI and a former U.S. Army infantry officer.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things Change: Kapap, Krav Maga

The following blog post is written by Israeli Krav International Head Instructor Moshe Katz. It is an interesting article that I hope you find as informative as I did.

All the best,

Things Change

"Nothings going to change my world", sang John Lennon in the 1960's, but perhaps more than any other man of his time he embodied change. He was shaped by the winds of change and he helped make those changes. "The times they are a – changing," Sang Robert Zimmerman, a.k.a. Bob Dylan, and indeed changing they were and changing they are. Change is constant.

But some of us try to preserve the way things are; we forget that no one can stop change. Yes, some things stay the same forever but some things change.

The same sun rises everyday and sets every night, human nature is basically unchanged, love and hate, jealousy and fear; our emotions are the same as thousands of years ago.

And man comes up with defense mechanisms. One of those remarkable developments has been the martial arts. From ancient Israel to Greece to Japan to modern Israel – the martial arts have developed and changed and adapted. What was considered perfection by one generation is considered obsolete by another.

Bruce Lee came along and challenged the martial arts world with his "way of no way", "Use no way as the way". Royce Gracie came along with the "ultimate challenge" and changed the way this generation trains. A generation comes and a generation goes.

Sadly, man does not seem to change very much, and we still have a need for self-defense, but the circumstances do change and our tactics and training must change as well. We cannot fight today's fight with yesterday's techniques.

In Israel we have had a need for hand-to-hand combat since the very beginning. Our training is based on our reality. During the early years; 1930's, 40's and early 50's, the Arabs often attacked using sticks, axes, swords and blunt objects. The Jewish community did not have "live" weapons such as hand-guns or rifles.

What they did have was sticks.

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Early Kapap Training, Israel

The art of the stick developed. In Hebrew this was called Kapap, which stands for "Krav Panim mul Panim" (Face to Face Combat). The main focus of Kapap was use of various sticks. This suited the times very well. In the hands of a trained Kapap fighter the stick became a formidable weapon of self-defense. Older men have told me stories how they always took their sticks with them on hikes and trips. Often they would be confronted by hostile Arabs. The stick proved effective in stopping attacks and in earning the respect of the local Arabs.

The Jew had been known to the Arabs as the "Child of Death" because they had always seen the Jews as victims. Kapap and the stick helped change this perception.

As the years went on the facts changed. Arab attacks took on different forms, Jews gained statehood and live weapons, and the use of the stick lost much of its significance on the street and in the field.
And yet it was difficult to give up the beloved art that had proved so successful. Like an old rifle that had proven itself in combat the soldier had difficulty accepting the "new and improved" rifle.
The youth movements took it upon themselves to "preserve" the art of the stick and Kapap. But here lies a great martial truth: When one is only "preserving" an art but that art is no longer necessary for survival – it changes.

The changed art is either more "stylistic" or simple a watered down version of the original art. Simply put – if your life depends upon these skills – then you train differently.

Preservation of an art does not bring out the combat training that one needs for survival. That is why trying to learn real life combat from "fossilized" or "stylized" arts will never work. We cannot live in a museum, or in the past. We have a certain nostalgia towards the past; this is natural but this must not cloud our judgment for the present. The needs of the present must dictate our decisions.

The Polish cavalry charged against the Nazi Panzer divisions. They were fighting World War Two as if it were World War One; this did not work out so well. Fighting tactics must constantly be evaluated and updated. In Martial arts we tend to make holy all that came before us. It is important to honor the past, respect it and learn from it but we cannot let it hold us back from necessary adjustments

This was Bruce Lee's outcry against the martial arts establishment. He challenged it saying, "The king has no clothes." – The techniques are not real!! They are only formalized version of what once worked in combat, long ago and far away.

Kapap training in the youth movements was a watered down version of the original arts used against Arabs. Manuals were written for the sake of preservation, not for survival. Gradually the art pretty much died out. It was replaced by an art that evolved from it; Krav Maga.

No one is quite sure how the transition took place. For a while both terms were used interchangeably but by the early 1960's the name Kapap had pretty much fallen into disuse.

Circumstances had changed. Attacks on Jews walking in the fields became less common. Methods of transportation and travel changed, more people live in the cities. Today we have other sorts of challenges and we must not deal with these using the techniques and weapons of the past.

Things change, Times change and we must adapt if we wish to remain relevant; both in Krav Maga and in life. Too many instructors are teaching yesterday's Krav to today's students.

As the poet Bob Dylan wrote so many years ago:

"As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.

Your old road is Rapidly aging'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'."

~ Moshe Katz - IKI Head Instructor

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Been a While... Footnotes from the Ronin!

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards;
they try to have more things, or more money, in 
order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier.

The way it actually works is the reverse.
You must first be who you really are, then do what you need 
to do, in order to have what you want.

~Margaret Young

It's been a couple months since I've written, so I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts. I've been really busy lately, fortunately all good things! My work with The PeaceWalker Project, Resolution Group International, Ronin Empowerment Group and of course Ronin Krav Maga all have been keeping me rather busy. Not to mention my meager college class load that I am able to scratch out as I try to finish my degree in ethno-history. I'll probably be eighty years old before that bad dog is finally done!

I have all of you to thank regarding how my path has developed and keeps moving forward. I appreciate everyone who has written, attended seminars, come to classes, mentored me, listened, spoke, confided, or just simply quietly read my words. Each of you have made a contribution to my path in your own way!

This month marks the second year I have been out of Corporate America! Yes, it was just two years ago that I came back from Buyu Camp to get called into my bosses office and in short order fired, downsized, rightsized, let go, laid off, kicked to the curb, liberated, freed... etc. =) 

For whatever reason it didn't come to me as a surprise, being that I had only been with the company for a year, I was the new kid on the block so to speak. With the economy as it was back in 2009 (kinda like now only less certainty), my struggling sales numbers and the companies lay offs, it was no wonder about their decision to let me fly. Funny, I went from one of the top sales reps in the nation only a few years prior (with another company I had been with for collectively 10ish years) to trying some other opportunities that hadn't worked out as well as I had planned. The transition had been many years in the making. Although my exit strategy didn't go down exactly as planned, when the end came, I welcomed the opportunity. 

I have no hard feelings with that former employer, they run a solid business and were professional how they handled the situation. It was simply time to part ways. (So, don't worry E.L. I'm not out gunning for you buddy, all is well!  =)

I was planning on making my exodus out of the rat race known as corporate sales, only I was thinking I would have more time to wrap up some of my other businesses. I was thinking that I would slide out of things about two years later than what actually happened.

In 2007 I had started my education back up at college seeking another degree (history). My plans were going in the direction of teaching at the college level (of which they still are), knowing things may change along the way, but I knew I needed to leave the corporate world behind before it sucked the rest of my soul dry of every ounce of sanity, happiness and self respect that was left. Trust me, after almost 20 years of playing the corporate game there was little left of it. I am still undoing many habits that I picked up through the years of trying to be everything to everyone. Solidifying that next sale, killing myself to ensure insane deadlines, negotiating unrealistic deals or resolving conflicts with people who had entitlement issues and little tolerance for what a win/win situation really looks like beyond their own perceived needs, created some behavioral scars that are taking some time to fade. I have a good idea that many of you out there can relate!?

Now, I don't want to come across that life was all doom and gloom in those days, because it wasn't, I met a lot of great people, built many good relationships & connections (many of which I still enjoy today!). I had a lot of good times and learned a lot of things that are serving me well now, however words cannot express my relief as to not being in that profession any longer. Those days seem a lifetime ago, now some day's are so surreal that I have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming!

I sometimes see people who I haven't seen since my migration into what I am currently doing and they'll ask, "So, what's going on with you?" I really can't begin to describe to Biff & Muffy what's been happening in my life without going to a local pub for a few hours (& beers) and commence sharing a journey no less important than that of Marco Polo's account of his travels through the Khan's Mongolian Empire, and no less fantastical! Ok, so that last statement might be a little over the top, however when this discussion comes up, many people just look at me and get that deer in the headlights look as they try to put together why I, in their eyes, gave up the "American Dream," of a career, stuff, wining, dining, trendy people, cool cocktail parties, shaking and moving, a cool downtown loft condo (not to mention the entire building!), the cover of the Business Journal, Grand Rapids Magazine, etc. etc. I used to be a top sales rep making great money for god's sake!! All gone! ...and frankly, good riddance.

Once the ball was rolling in that direction (which was out of the corporate scene), I couldn't look back. I downsized my life and swore off going back into the fire. In the beginning I figured I'd go back to bar tending, security, executive protection, or whatever else I had to do to A) get to school full time and B) not have to go back to the corporate grind.

Once again my plans didn't exactly go as I expected. My other life long endeavors of martial arts, woman's assault prevention, empowerment, leadership and conflict management courses were all ramping up to the point that I was beginning to make a livable wage from them. Now don't confuse, no longer could I afford my corporate lifestyle, however, I am inspired every morning and I am doing things that matter, not only to me but to those around me. The ripple effect is already being spread far and wide, and as more people get involved, it is only getting better!

The life I once had lived was becoming more and more of a distant memory. The momentum that I am still building is quite inspiring.  It came at a time that I wouldn't have expected it, but I was on the cusp and took a chance. I figure, "What the hell, GO FOR IT!" ...and that is exactly what I have been doing AND loving every minute of it! I love what I do. Of course nothing is without its challenges, however, the rewards have far outweighed the risks, and so far so good. I believe I have heaven and earth on my side... and if I don't, shhhhhh, don't tell'em and maybe no one will be the wiser! 

I don't know where my ship will end up, but I like the way the wind has filled my sails so far! 

Some of my goals when I set out on this journey, were to do things that inspired me, work with more people who I enjoyed working with and make a difference that was deeper than simply making money (whether putting it in someone else's pocket or my own). Life it TOO short, damn it people wake up!  If you are not inspired with your life, then  do something different with it! Things will have to change though! The bigger your dreams, the bigger the change, however things can change, over time, not over night! Most will give up before they break through, or they justify their misery as their stuff owns them.

I am amazed at how many of you I hear from who want to follow their dreams as well. Many have contacted me already to be a part of the PeaceWalker Project or Her Survival Guide in some way. In response to that, stay tuned, there are many things in the works and opportunities on the horizon!

Thanks to all of you for what you have done, will do and what will transpire in the future! Hang on, it's going to be one hell of a ride!

Talk to you soon.

All the best,

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Saved the Hostages in Recent Standoff with Dantzler?

The Home where the standoff took place.

In the wake of the recent tragedy concerning 34-year-old Rodrick Dantzler much has been reported on. This deeply unfortunate event that has rocked the foundation of our community is certain to touch each of us in some way, to a lessor or greater degree. It is times like these that truly illustrate just how interconnected our community is. The degree of separation that each of us has from someone involved in this incident will probably prove to be surprisingly small, for me it has been but three tiny degrees.
My Saturday wrapped up much as it always does, teach from morning into late afternoon, go home, take a shower, wrap up some bookwork, take a quick power nap and then off to a Saturday night of socializing, while taking advantage of another incredible Michigan Summer. This week I ended up at a small pool get together on the West Side of Grand Rapids near Leonard and Covell. Things started as they usually do in similar social settings; small talk, beverages, laughter,  music, discussing past and future vacations, etc.  Then as it was destined to, the inevitable subject came up: The events of what had happened only a couple days prior regarding Rodrick Dantzler.
There was a rather interesting crew around that table at this time:  I, myself, working in the conflict resolution, leadership and tactical defense industry, the other people with whom I was sharing company were mainly employed in community mental health and child protective services. I think our respective positions made us tread even more lightly on the subject at hand, probably due to how close we all were to it and how recent the events occurred. Not to mention that some of us are asked by people to provide answers or to help make some sense of events like these. People often look to other "experts" to provide some reassurance on what to do, or for some sort of comfort and security. In situations like this I hesitate to make claims and/or provide answers. People are vulnerable in times of unrest and it is not good to jump to conclusions and even worse to spread those conclusions out as if they were undeniable truths. In my opinion this is not a good time for being up on a soapbox. To every ones credit, we were all choosing our words and opinions very carefully.
Just as the conversation gently cascaded toward Dantzler and what had happened, Holly, one of the gals at the table, dropped a bombshell. She told us that one of her friends was very close to one of the hostages who was in the house Dantzler at the time of his final standoff.  Holly went into detail on how these people handled the situation and how they treated Dantzler with empathy as they tried to calm him down and deescalate the situation as much as they could. The way they held it together under such adverse conditions sounded quite incredible. They were literally fighting for their lives. Dantzler had already killed seven people, shot an additional two, put countless people in jeopardy and was now cornered by the police, he could have just as well killed the hostages before killing himself.  Why did he choose to let these people go? Was the fact that those hostages left with their lives anything short of a miracle? Did keeping a cool head, attempting to de-escalate and show empathy to Dantzler save their lives? We can only speculate, but many experts like former Cold War conflict resolutionist  Dr. Robert HumphreyResolution Group International's president Jack Hoban and the late Dr. George Thompson, creator of Verbal Judo, have all advocated how important staying calm, showing empathy and trying to de-escalate a conflict can increase ones chances of better resolving a crisis and provide an opportunity for a more peaceful conclusion.
Obviously, when dealing with a situation as volatile as the episode with Dantzler, nothing is guaranteed. As former negotiator Lt. Robert Zuniga points out in his recent interview regarding Dentzler's suicide, "There's people that study suicide, but the bottom line is I can't control what they do, nor can anybody else,” said Zuniga. “They're in control of their own destiny.”
As I think of the Dantzler's hostages my mind goes back to watching a training video during a Tac Com - Conflict Resolution certification program:

(The following is excerpt taken from a blog post from James Morganelli's kosshi blog site )

...we can see part of a table and chair against a wall inside a police interrogation room. A scruffy man is led in by a detective and seated in the chair. He looks forlorn. Dr. Thompson speaks up, "This guy is a cop killer," he points to the screen. All of us inside the darkened classroom turned theater silently acknowledge. The video plays on, the detective returns, handing the man a bottle of water, "Here you go, amigo." Thompson speaks again, "That just saved that detective's life."

The scruffy man opens the bottle methodically, takes a drink, the detective leaves. A moment passes. The scruffy man is thinking. He reaches under his shirt, produces a handgun, and shoots himself in the head. The detectives return, "Nobody shook him (searched him)." The video fades to black.

The man in the video (a known cop killer) could have shot the officer and then himself, he really had nothing to lose. Dr. Thompson believed that probably the only thing that save the officers life was because he still treated the man with dignity and respected his Life Value (even if the mans actions didn't necessarily constitute it).

When faced with such adverse circumstances we can not always dictate what happens to us, only how we respond to it. As psychiatrist, author and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl stated in his famous quote, "The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose ones attitude in a given set of circumstances."

The ability to chose ones attitude, may well have saved those hostages from being three more fatalities, rather than survivors, able to tell their tale.
My thoughts are with all of those impacted by last weeks events.
~Craig Gray

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Spirit is Spirit

"Once upon a time I asked a wise man how he reconciles the religious tradition of the Indigenous, Native culture into which he was born with his affiliation with one of the three Abrahamic faiths. His response to me was, "Spirit is Spirit."... I did not know at the time that I also belong to an Indigenous, Native culture. Thanks to that same wise man, I know that now and have also come to understand that indeed, "Spirit is Spirit". I will always remember those words..."

~Corinne Clair Coughlin
    w/some possible mysterious connection to a certain Mushtaq Ali Al Ansar, but one can never be sure =)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Note - A Fathers Day Tribute!

Tom Gray (my Dad) on Left - 1960 Okinawa

Earlier this year I moved out of my condo and as part of my downsizing strategy; I decided to get rid of quite a few of my books. This sounded easy enough at first, unless you are an avid book reader and collector as I am. You other "book-ies" out there know what I'm talking about! Well, deciding to undertake a book purge has been a good lesson for me in terms of practicing non-attachment and letting go. I have accumulated somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 books. No, that's not a misprint, I did have THAT many books! Too many, WAY too many! So I began going through them, picking out the ones that I wanted to keep (like ALL of them!) and the ones that I would give away or sell. I would first make three piles: The first made up of those books I couldn't do without; the second were those books that I knew I didn't really need and then the third... Oh, that damn third pile, it was the most difficult of all because it was the "undecided" pile. That's right, that pile was made up of all those books that I didn't really NEED (not that I really need ANY of the books!) but books that I did like. As a matter of fact I liked them enough to shell out top dollar for them at Schuller Books or Barnes and Noble's. However I was determined to cut down my collection to about 400 books or so. My goal was to have all of my books fit into two of my bookshelves. I am about there... almost! =)

Aside for my being able to practice non-attachment and letting go, I did have the opportunity to reminisce about various parts of my life. You see, I often stick notes, cards, and other memorabilia into my books and then like most pack rats, I forget about i,t so years, sometimes decades later I come across these items and and pleasantly surprised and delighted to see a part of my life that may have faded from my memory.

So, yesterday I was going through one of these books (which made the cut by the way!) and I came across this little note from my Dad. It was something that he wrote to me before I left for one of my trips abroad. Although, I don't remember exactly which trip I was going on.

Now, before I tell you what the note said, there are a few things that I want you to understand about my Dad. First, he is a former Marine who served in Okinawa and the Philippines back in the early 60's. He was also my first martial arts teacher when I was knee high to a grasshopper. And although he loved us kids very much he was a man of few words... VERY few! As he has gotten older he has opened up a lot more and has really tried to come out of his shell. Now we sometimes spend hours talking about politics or life, go out shooting or for an occasional bike ride; but it wasn't always like that. I have always knew that he loved me, even in those times that he's had trouble expressing it.

So, back to the note:

Here I am, my bags packed, ready to go to some foreign land on yet another adventure. I don't remember exactly when he wrote the note, it may have been shortly after 9/11, when there was a bit of tension regarding travel. Now, my Mom will talk my ear off telling me every detail of her apprehension with me traveling or whatever I may be doing at the time that makes her nervous. My Dad however is different. From what my Mom always tells us,  he worries as much if not more, than she does, but he just doesn't say anything to us. Sometimes however he expresses himself in other ways. That said, shortly before I leave for my trip, he leaves a note for me. It says:


1) Low Profile (Hickish).
2) Be aware of what's going on around you (your surroundings).
3) No martial arts "give away's," such as clothing or books!!
4) Try to blend in well as best as you can.
5) Remember the terrorist and/or perp's know exactly what their about to do and have a different mindset.
6) Always remember surprise is one of your best first response defenses.


To those who train with me; doesn't this all sound a bit familiar!? So, just in case you were wondering where I get it from, there it is. As I say, "The Fruit doesn't Fall too Far from the Tree!"

Those are some simple and very practical tips that I thought I'd share with all of you. This is also a loving tribute to my Father. Thanks for all you've done for me Dad.

Happy Fathers Day!

I love you!

All the best gang.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Muskegon Middle Schoolers Get Some Tips on Conflict Resolution

In response to public cries for answers regarding conflict in and outside of our schools Timberland Charter Academy decided to take a different approach in addressing some of the problems facing thier students. In a society where zero tolerance policies, strict legal ramifications and over the top laws are having difficulty providing solutions to the serious problems that our kids continually face, this small school in Muskegon is working to do something more.  Wondering if stiffer penalties and inflexible guidelines are the only ways to deal with issues facing the young people attending their schools, playing in their neighborhoods and walking down their streets, assistant principal Todd Hendricks tries another approach.

The real question that needs to be asked is whether or not the bullying and violence is the problem, or if it is a symptom of something deeper? How can we inspire the respect needed to even have a chance of avoiding the threats of bullying and violence? In the real world there are real problems that are often not addressed and skills that are not taught. Among those skills are the basics of conflict resolution.

On Friday, May 13th twelve students from Timberland Charter Academy in Muskegon, Michigan would get the opportunity to experience some methods of cross cultural conflict resolution and tactical verbal communication skills.  These skills could teach the kids not only how to deal with altercations differently, but how to live more empowered lives in general.

"I’m excited, as usual.  This is one more chance to change a kids life," Vice Principal Hendricks stated in his email.

The two hour session taught by Ronin Empowerment Group  was an introduction to the PeaceWalker Project, a program that trains teachers and students not only how to resolve conflict, but how to live a healthier, more empowered life. The idea is as Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

The session began by asking the kids some questions:

What if you could feel safer? What if you had a way to handle people who were upset and acting like jerks? What if you weren't picked on or bullied anymore? What if you how to stand up for yourself? And maybe the biggest question of all, what would your world look like if you could create it?

Things usually change over time, not over night, so practice is essential in trying to develop a new habit of dealing with people under stressful and adverse circumstances.

After the questions, the group was introduced to the foundation of conflict resolution, respect and clarifying the life value. This is essential in dealing with conflict. Dr. Robert Humphrey's Dual Life Value is the foundation of the PeaceWalkers philosophical approach. Dr. Humphrey, a Marine during WWII fought on the island of Iwo Jima and later after the war became a conflict resolutionist for the United States during the Cold War. Humphrey's cross cultural conflict resolution theories were put to the test successfully overseas during the Cold War and then later to deal with youth gangs in some of the major cities in the U.S.

After clarifying the ethical perspective the kids were exposed to Holocaust survivor Vikto Frankl's perspective that everything can be taken away from a person except their ability to choose how they will respond to what happens to them. That perspective can never be taken from a person, only given away. Understanding that concept is key in taking responsibility for one's life and maintaining an empowered perspective.

Some of the other things that the kids were introduced to included: How to keep a cool head under pressure, how to create allies, not enemies, how to deflect insults, and of course a specific, step by step verbal communication process called B.A.R.C.C.S.,which provided a framework for dealing with difficult and even dangerous people.

Having some skills on what to say and how to say it, as well as when to abandon negotiations is essential to not only resolve conflict, but to stay safe when the kids are dealing with conflict.

The hope is that by giving the teachers and students better conflict resolution skills that those tools can be used when real life conflict arises in and outside of the classroom.

Article written by
~Craig Gray


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The ethical warrior: Developing a cop's combat mindset by Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie

Here is another great article by my colleague, friend and RGI President, Jack Hoban. In this article Jack and Bruce clairify and add depth to the concept of the Combat Mindset. They go into depth regarding the three dislipines that make up this path. The discussion includes how and why these dynamics are so important no matter if you are a soldier, police officer or a civilian PeaceWalker (something I will elaborate on later).

I hope you enjoy the article and find it beneficial along your journey. If you would like to find out more about this perspective please join us at our Resolution Group International Conflict Resolution Workshop coming up in May. Click here for details.

In the meantime enjoy the article and as Jack says, "Keep Going!"


The ethical warrior: Developing a cop's combat mindset
by Jack Hoban & Bruce Gourlie

One popular phrase says: “Be polite and professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.” It may sound sensible to some and cool to others, but both perspectives may fail to examine what that really means. What is the mindset of the person who adopts this philosophy? Is it that of a protector, or that of a killer?
A combat mindset — the ability to act effectively and ethically under adversity — is key to the Ethical Warrior. Being effective under stress requires the ability to overcome emotional and autonomic impulses that might keep us from performing well in combat — or get us killed. Our perspective is that clarified ethics makes you more effective — and safer — in a combat situation. After all, what are ethics but life-protecting values in action?

Philosophy Drives Actions

Many things happen in the mind of a law enforcement officer when an encounter with a suspect turns violent. Training, judgment and self control compete with confusion, anger and fear. Be careful of what you prime your mind with. The officer needs to instantly take the necessary actions to protect himself or herself and others — that’s the job. The actions need to be effective, legal and appropriate for the level of danger involved and, for many reasons including the officer’s own mental health, they have to be ethical. In today’s world, it is also likely the encounter will be captured on video. How can we develop a mindset that will produce a result that accomplishes the mission and guards against legal and ethical problems?
Preparation for the critical moment requires a synergistic program of ethical, physical and mental training. In previous articles we have discussed the relationship between ethics and tactics. We explored how using physical skills to activate the universal moral value of protecting life produced ethical actions. We now turn to the third critical element: developing the mindset that produces fast and effective ethical action under the pressure of physical danger.

The Three Disciplines

To get a fresh perspective, we use the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) as a frame of reference. Marines involved in counterinsurgency operations are often placed in a role similar to a peace officer. They protect and serve the communities in their areas of operation, interact with an often suspicious public, and do their best to build popular support for their work. When violence occurs, they are held accountable for using the appropriate amount of force along a defined continuum.

The Marines have found that the three disciplines of MCMAP — physical, mental and ethical — help them act decisively in the right way at the right time. It helps them act in a way that keeps faith with the people they are protecting, while helping them live with the consequences of their actions all while remaining the most effective fighting force in the world.

The phrase “mind-body-spirit” is often associated with the martial arts. Many people assume that this is a philosophical concept requiring years of study and mystical initiation. Actually, the connection between mind, body and spirit outlines a very accessible and practical system. Mind: the ability to organize and control ones thoughts; body: technical and tactical ability; and spirit: the moral clarity that guides ones actions, are the building blocks of the combat mindset.

Combat mindset is an attitude of awareness, confidence, and purpose — awareness of the situation, confidence in our physical skills, and clarity of our legal and ethical purpose. Whether it happens consciously or not, all physical actions begin in the mind. Even so-called “muscle memory” is just a faster version of the mind-body connection. The problem is that even on a good day, the mind is managing many things at once. The added stress of physical danger can turn multi-tasking into system overload. A well-developed combat mindset enables the quick effective thinking that triggers quick effective action. Again, what philosophical perspective are you priming your mind with?

Confidence in our physical skills can only come through effective training. Just as MCMAP is designed for military combat, there are many combative systems geared toward law enforcement. A system useful for developing the combat mindset should have some specific characteristics. The system should be based on sound tactical principles as much as fighting techniques. It should employ techniques that are simple to learn, easy to practice, and adaptable to many conflict situations. Finally, it should focus on keeping the officer’s weapon safe and available if needed. The goal is to develop a set of quickly deployable physical tools that can be used in a variety of dangerous situations.

The Ethical Warrior
We seek to attain the spirit of the ethical warrior to clarify our purpose. The warrior protects one’s self and others. The others can be a partner, a bystander or even the violent suspect. When a situation turns violent, this commitment to protect life forms the foundation of our purpose. This clarity provides reassurance that our use of physical force is for the right purpose, allowing us to act decisively with the confidence that we won’t regret our actions.

The goal of developing a combat mindset is to do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason under extreme stress. Physical training and ethical clarity support a mindset that identifies and deals with danger in an effective and dispassionate way. Every officer knows that a quiet shift can instantly turn into the ultimate test. Developing a professional combat mindset can be an important tool for excelling at that test.
Let’s consider rewriting the popular phrase above to say: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to protect myself and all others, at all times, if at all possible.”

About the author
Jack E. Hoban is president of Resolution Group International and a subject matter expert for the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Bruce J. Gourlie is a Special Agent of the FBI and a former U.S. Army infantry officer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Woosha! by James Morganelli

Craig Gray - Dr. George Thompson - Gary Klugiewicz - James Morganelli
I recently received my Instructors Certification in Dr. George Thompson's Tactical Communication course he calls Verbal Judo  It is an impressive course on how to de-escalate and negotiate with a person to gain voluntary compliance, cooperation and collaboration. It was created and  run by Dr. Thompson and his right hand man Gary Klugiewicz.

As I was putting my thoughts down in a manner that would be enjoyable and beneficial to read, I saw that RGI Associate and friend James Moganelli wrote a nice piece on the experience, so being one to leverage talent, I asked James if I could re-post his article.

As for James, he is a very talented martial artist, instructor and writer. I met him a couple of years ago through Jack Hoban and I am glad that we are getting a chance to know each other better. I would recommend that you check out James's blog site
Here is James article:

The video is grainy, but bright. It is December 19, 2003, and we can see part of a table and chair against a wall inside a police interrogation room. A scruffy man is led in by a detective and seated in the chair. He looks forlorn. Dr. Thompson speaks up, "This guy is a cop killer," he points to the screen. All of us inside the darkened classroom turned theater silently acknowledge. The video plays on, the detective returns, handing the man a bottle of water, "Here you go, amigo." Thompson speaks again, "That just saved that detective's life."

The scruffy man opens the bottle methodically, takes a drink, the detective leaves. A moment passes. The scruffy man is thinking. He reaches under his shirt, produces a handgun, and blows his brains out. Blood erupts from his temple, pouring out like a dropped bottle of wine. His eyes swell shut, his nose drips blood, his body deflates. "Holy fuck," detectives return, "Nobody shook him (searched him)." The scruffy man's head lolls. "Holy fuck ..." Blood taps dances on concrete. The video fades to black.

How many fights have any of us ever been in? And how often? I can count on one hand the number of times I have used physical force - just ask me about the Ritz-Carlton bar fight. I cannot, however, count how many fights I have not been in - countless. Why? Simple - I usually talked my way out of it.

This past week I became a certified 'Tactical Communications' instructor after I was invited to complete a 40-hour course in "Verbal Judo." It was outstanding! If you are unfamiliar with VJ, look it up - it's founder, Dr. George Thompson, started teaching VJ some 30 years ago after getting his PhD in English Lit, and then switched gears to serve some 20 years in Law Enforcement, where he figured out and refined VJ techniques.

The video above was one of many, illustrating the idea that our words can either be a stitch in a bulletproof vest or a nail in our coffin. The scruffy man was a cop killer, just arrested, and many might have treated him with disdain, venting their anger and emotions; had the detective done that, no one might have thought twice about it. But, because the detective followed Thompson's 'First Universal Truth' - "Everyone wants to be treated with dignity and respect," he didn't arm the scruffy man with a reason to kill him.

Thompson, a long-time martial artist, describes VJ as a 'martial art of the mind.' And he's right - VJ's principles are psychologically based on observation of the human condition and designed to teach one how to take advantage of another's verbal aggression, tip them off balance, and gain control. He speaks about letting go of one's ego, maintaining our temper, focusing only on another's behavior, letting their angry words slide off us like water on a duck's back. Thompson cleverly reconciles his years of police work with Aristotelian models of rhetorical persuasion and lays it all out in clear form. He even jokingly turns a personal kiai into a summary acronym - WOOSHA! (Win Only On Secret Hidden Agendas).

Throughout the week, the class is punctuated by examples of people saving lives using the trained mind and 'tactical courtesy' as a baseline for conduct. There's the story of an officer, kidnapped at gunpoint, convincing his aggressors to give themselves up saving all their lives including his own, or the legendary gang detective, whose past professional conduct, even with despicable thugs, saves his life one night: A bogus 911 call is actually a gang initiation designed to assassinate a cop, but when this detective answers the call, the thugs lower their rifle, explaining to him some months later, their respect for him (because of the respect he had shown them) saved his life.

Thompson himself is called in to negotiate with an unstable father holding a knife to the throat of his three year old. Throughout their conversation, Thompson searches the father's words for the key to use against him. When the father says he does not want to kill his son, but has to because he is possessed by the devil, Thompson convinces the man to allow a priest to perform an exorcism. It works - the father releases the boy, is taken into custody, and lives are saved - the boy from his father, the father from police snipers.

Like 'Taisabaki' maneuvers the body, TacComm is 'Kotoba o sabaku,' maneuvering with our words. As 98% of all conflict is verbal, we should remember Taijutsu is not simply a physical art.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Zen and the Art of Krav Maga

We recently made the front cover of Rapid Growth Media. A nice article that you can read here:

The article has created a little ripple of a buzz inspiring some others to do a little writing of their own. Here is a nice write up by John Kowalski's Babacita blog shout! Thanks for the good words John!

Here are John's words:

An excellent article on Krav Maga and local Grand Rapids, MI instructor Craig Gray. I’ve had the honor and privilege of knowing Craig as a friend and also training with him for a few years. He is the utmost professional and extremely skilled in teaching this important, life-changing mentality and skill set.

Some excerpts from the article:

“Our global society has changed the way we do warfare. It’s not ‘us versus them’ anymore. You don’t always know who the enemy is,” explains Gray. “Krav continues to change to embrace new threats.”

No matter the situation, Gray believes “going physical should be a last resort.”

“The idea of the way we teach is protection of self and others. If we can train to do with less force, it’s less damaging for us,” says Gray. “Frankly, I’m protecting the bad guy.”

This offers more than just physical protection; it prevents psychological fallout. According to Gray, except for the four percent of people who are sociopaths, all humans must justify their actions. Violence requires us to “separate” and dehumanize — an immediately effective, yet ultimately volatile workaround that can eventually lead to post traumatic stress.

“If you don’t do anything that means that someone else is resolving the situation for you,” Gray cautions. “The situation will be resolved either for you or by you.”

By John Kowalski - Babacita

Familiar Sounds by Moshe Katz

A chill ran up my spine when I first heard the news regarding the terrorist bombing a bus in Israel, especially upon the news report of the particular bus that was said to have been hit: Bus #174 to Maaleh Adumim. It is the bus I take when I am training in Israel with Israeli Krav International Head Instructor, Moshe Katz. My first thought was, is Moshe alright?! Once I found out that he was, my next thought was, "Hey, that is the bus that I take. It could have been me on that bus!" Reality check and some food for thought! Another Krav Lesson.

Later reports confirmed that it was NOT bus #174, rather it was bus #74, regardless a tragic event all the same.
Here is an article Moshe wrote regarding the recent terrorist bombing in Israel.

I just landed yesterday, back home in Israel after a long seminar tour of the USA and Canada, and it is great to be home. Today I received some phone calls from dear friends and family, "Are you OK?", "Sure", I said, not understanding their concern, "I landed safely".

No, that is not what they were calling about; they were calling because the first reports on the news were that the 174 bus was hit by terrorists. That is our bus; the bus to Maaleh Adumim .
As it turns out it was a mistake, the 174 bus was not hit/ The bus to Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem, bus 74, was hit. But, as my friend Stephan in Heidelberg said, same bad stuff, Har Nof or Maaleh Adumim, same bad news.
As I always point out; Jerusalem and Israel in general are very safe yet always under threat. Daily our enemies our out to get us but our outstanding soldiers, police and civilians are on the watch. Very few terrorist actions succeed because "The Guardian of Israel does not rest."
Tim Hillis and I with a couple Israeli Officers in Jerusalem
This was the first successful attack in our capital in three years. But, as the news is reporting as I write, "Jerusalemites heard the familiar sounds"; i.e. the screams of the wounded, the ambulances, the police. These are sounds the people of Jerusalem are all too familiar with.
A terrorist attack puts life into perspective again, a wake up call, a call to understanding. Everything else becomes "small stuff"; minor problems that can be worked out, little issues that can be dealt with. Everything but life itself seems to be small change.

A terrorist attack reminds us not to take life for granted, that each day is precious and every person is special. Nothing should ever be taken for granted. Today will never come back, no day is ever repeated. And a life that is lost is gone forever.

Yes, it is also a reminder to be more alert, to train harder in Krav Maga, to be watchful as we near a bus station. But it is also a reminder to embrace life and live it to the fullest because today will never come again, and tomorrow…never knows.

Post by Moshe Katz - Israeli Krav International Head Instructor

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Masks We Wear

  Moshe (bottom) & I showing some Krav Maga ground tactics at a seminar in Indy (ouch!).

Here is a blog post by Moshe Katz. I liked what he says here and thought you would find it insightful as well.


We all wear many masks throughout our lives. We are trained not to act spontaneously, not to show our hand, not to reveal too much. A child cries when it feels like it, even if the timing and location are very poor. Tomorrow I will fly to the USA, a twelve hour flight, and I pray I will not be near any crying children on the plane.

As a child grows older his parents train him how to behave in public, and this is a good thing. We must learn to be considerate of others, not to shout out loud in public when we are overly excited about something. We live in a civilized society and we must be constantly aware of our behavior and be considerate of others.
But then there are moments when a person might lose control. He might forget all his careful etiquette and proper behavior and his gut feelings will come out in an explosive way. At this point we hope that his inner nature is a good one and that he does not do something dangerous or tragic.
Krav Maga builds on this gut reaction.
Many martial arts are built on complex techniques that take years of training and condition to absorb. When a real life situation requires action, and our stress levels go through the ceiling, we tend to lose all those finely honed skills and revert back to instinct. The mask falls off and we are back to basic instinct. Krav Maga is built on those instincts.

Krav Maga trains us to use our natural instincts in the best way possible. We don’t' fight our instincts. We don't train ourselves to go against our natural inclinations, we flow with them.
That is why a technique may come out different depending upon the circumstances. Based on the size of the attacker, or his body motions, the Krav technique might take different twists and turns. The point is that as long as the Krav principles and basic techniques are adhered to – the situation will turn out well.
We learn a technique, we understand the underlying concept and then we train with speed, power and resistance. It may not come out picture perfect every time, it may not look the same every time; that is of no consequence. We value aggressiveness over finesse; we use our mindset and attitude to counterbalance and overcome obstacles.

In Israel we have a saying, "We overcame Pharoh; we shall overcome this". No situation is viewed as hopeless. The Israel Defense Forces, Krav Maga and in fact all of Israeli society are built on the idea of rising to the challenge, thinking on your feet and working with your gut feeling.

by Moshe Katz ~ Israeli Krav International Head Instructor

Friday, February 18, 2011

Playing with Fire!

I hesitated to post this because of the dangerous nature of the subject matter, however I often get questions regarding Krav Maga firearm disarms when it pertains to directly grabbing the weapon. I was forwarded these videos by Nick Gutschow (Thanks man!). One video shows what happens when you grab the slide of an automatic pistol the other video shows what happens when you grab the cylinder of a revolver. 

Now before you watch the video let's talk about a few things:

1) If you are in a conflict with a person who has a weapon (in this case a pistol), THEY have the advantage. It is best to do whatever you can to not get into a physical confrontation with them. If you can talk or walk your way out of the situation that would be the best and safest way out. If you do have to go physical remember the 3C's:

CLEAR your body from the danger (this includes innocent bystanders)
CONTROL the weapon (through space, finding cover or by physical manipulation)
CONQUER the threat or CLEAR the area

*These things can be done simultaneously but best odds for success is when they are done in the order described above.

2) DO NOT try to replicate what is on either of these videos!! I don't know the guys who did filmed these but they must be crazy mofo's to attempt this dangerous test. Please for your safety and the safety of others don't try this yourself!!

3) DO NOT train with live weapons!

This first video shows an automatic pistol:

This video shows what happens when you grab a revolver by the cylinder (and barrel):

If you are looking to train practical firearm disarms that are tested and used in the field by the Israeli Defense Force visit my Krav Maga website:

Train Smart & Stay Safe!


Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ethical Warrior: Philosophy and why it is important

The following article is featured in It was written by Jack Hoban and Bruce Gourlie, two talented professionals that I have the pleasure of working with. Jack's organization, Resolution Group International (RGI) is a professional training organization created to address the needs of military, law enforcement and civilian organizations. I am proud to be a part of this organization and work with such high caliber instructors with the same vision: To make a difference in a very profound way.

So without further ado:

The Ethical Warrior: Philosophy and why it is important

We can help people become ethical by encouraging them to act more consistently in accordance with their moral values. That begs the question: “Why wouldn’t they act ethically in the first place?”

There is a saying, “All actions proceed from philosophy.” Either consciously or subconsciously, people act based upon their core values. If you haven’t clarified your personal philosophy, you may not know what you will do when you need to act — particularly under stress. Philosophical confusion may even cause you to freeze at the most critical time.
The Ethical Warrior is a bit of a philosopher. He or she knows that his or her values, combined with training, will almost certainly drive what he or she does on the street — or on the battlefield.
If this perspective intrigues you, you should know that philosophical terms such as "values," "morals," and "ethics" are used rather imprecisely in our society. But, it is very important to be able to understand the distinctions — particularly if you might be involved in violent or deadly situations.
In order to facilitate the development of the Ethical Warrior while working with the U.S. Marine Corps and law enforcement, we created the following primer on Values, Morals and Ethics:
Values, Morals, and Ethics
Values. According to the, values are “things that have an intrinsic worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor,” or “principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable.” However, it is important to note that, although we may tend to think of a value as something good, virtually all values are morally relative—neutral until they are qualified by asking, “How is it good?” or “Good to whom?” The “good” can sometimes be just a matter of opinion or taste, or driven by culture, religion, habit, circumstance or environment, etc. Again, almost all values are relative. The exception, of course, is the life value. Life is a universal value. We might take this point for granted, we all have the life value, or we would not be alive. Life is also a dual value — self and others.
Morals. Moral values are relative values that protect life and are respectful of the dual life value of self and others. The great moral values, such as truth, freedom, charity, etc., have one thing in common. When they are functioning correctly, they are life protecting or life enhancing for all. But they are still relative values. Our relative moral values must be constantly examined to make sure that they are always performing their life-respecting mission. Even the Marine Corps core values of "honor, courage and commitment" require examination in this context. “Courage” can become foolish martyrdom, “commitment” can become irrational fanaticism, and “honor” can become self-righteousness, conceit and disrespect for others. Our enemies have their own standard of honor, they have courage, and they are surely committed (we have all heard the saying “honor among thieves”). What sets us apart? Respect for the lives of self and all others sets us apart.
Ethics. A person who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses right is moral. A person whose morality is reflected in the willingness to do the right thing — even if it is hard or dangerous — is ethical.
Ethics are moral values in action. We strive to be ethical because morality protects life and is respectful of others. It is a lifestyle that is consistent with mankind’s universal values as articulated by the American Founding Fathers — human equality and the inalienable right to life. As Ethical Warriors it is our duty to be protectors and defenders of the life value and to perform the unique and difficult mission of taking the lives of those acting immorally (against life) when necessary to protect the lives of innocent others.

When you kill protecting life it is still hard, but it is moral. Those who kill others not observant of their narrow relative religious, ethnic or criminal values — in other words, kill over relative values — are immoral. A dedication to protecting the life value of self and others — all others — makes the Ethical Warrior different and moral.
If all of that is a little too philosophical, we also created a vignette, called “The Bully,” to explain the terms in a more down-to-earth way.
The Bully
You are a kid in the schoolyard. You see a bully. He thinks he is the “top dog.” That is fine. That perception is a relative value. But when his relative value supersedes the life value of another kid — in other words, when the bully picks on and/or punches the other kid — this is wrong. Here is the rule: relative values, no matter how “great,” cannot supersede the life value.
You see the bully picking on the other kid. You feel — in your gut — that this is wrong. Congratulations, you are moral. By the way, most people are moral — they know the difference between right and wrong.
Now... you see the bully picking on the other kid. You overcome the “freeze,” you overcome the embarrassment, and you go tell a teacher. Congratulations! You are ethical. (Ethics are moral values in action).
Now... you see the bully picking on the other kid. You overcome the “freeze,” you overcome the fear, and you go to the aid of the kid being bullied. You put yourself at risk. Congratulations! You have the makings of an Ethical Warrior.
And it doesn’t end in the schoolyard. Almost all problems in our society are caused by bullies — those who would supersede the life value of others with their own relative values. We need Ethical Warriors to counter bullies.
We can help people become ethical by encouraging them to act more consistently in accordance with their moral values. That begs the question: “Why wouldn’t they act ethically in the first place?” The answer is simple. They are afraid; or they are embarrassed; or they are philosophically confused; or they simply “freeze” under the stress. So what can we do to help others gain the ability to “do the right thing,” even under great adversity? It is not certain that there is one answer that works for everyone, but there appears to be a formula that works for most people.
The “ethical formula” is: Moral + Physical = Ethical
1.) People benefit from a clarification of their beliefs and a better understanding of how values, morals and ethics actually work.
2.) Physical confidence bolsters moral courage. When you possess physical skills, it is easier to act ethically... even if it never “gets physical.”
When you break it down like this, a methodology for developing Ethical Warriors becomes clearer. Consider a training formula that combines philosophical clarification with martial arts training. You may end up with a wonderful contingent of Ethical Warriors in your organization. 
About the authors
Jack E. Hoban is president of Resolution Group International and a subject matter expert for the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Bruce J. Gourlie is a Special Agent of the FBI and a former U.S. Army infantry officer.
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