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 www.verbaljudo.com.  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 www.rgi.co 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 http://sgtidojo.blogspot.com
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. 



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