Monday, January 28, 2013

Jack Hoban - RGI & Buyu: Words on 2012 & 2013

 (L to R) Craig - Margarita - Doug - Jack - Dale 
Relaxing after a long (but good) week of RGI Training

Here is the 2012 review and 2013 projection that my Friend and Teacher Jack Hoban puts out. Because Jack and my path often intersect, cris cross and run parallel to each other, I thought many of you out there might find Jack's words interesting. 

So, without further ado here you go:
Resolution Group International ( is in it's third year and continues to flourish and make an impact.

RGI is made up of military and law enforcement professionals who teach how to resolve conflict under stress.  The RGI curriculum extrapolates on the work I have done with Robert L. Humphrey and the Marines in the areas of ethics, conflict communication and physical protection skills.  We had three more RGI Conflict Resolution Courses in 2012.  We had participants from the NYPD, NJ State Police, Park Service, Marines, and many more.

Joe Marine Shusko sets the pace!

The July course was especially rigorous and HOT; but everyone persevered and seemed to get a lot out of it.  Check out some of the testimonials here.

RGI Ethical Protector
Another fine group of Ethical Protectors!

If you are interested in learning how to apply the Ethical Protector training as a law enforcement or military professional – or just want to explore the concept with the top-notch RGI instructors in a hands-on setting as a civilian warrior – check out RGI Events.  To see more training photos, you can "like us" on Facebook here.

As a representative of RGI, I had the honor of sharing the Ethical Warrior concept with many law enforcement professionals at the International Law Enforcement Education & Training Association (ILEETA) trade show in Chicago for the second time last April.  Thanks to Gary Klugiewicz from Verbal Defense and Influence (the new name of the late George Thompson's Verbal Judo system) for introducing me to this great organization.


The response to the Ethical Warrior concept was overwhelmingly positive and I have been invited back in 2013 to do a session on Ethical Leadership. 

RGI also has two videos, now.  Check them out!

Jack and I on the set in Chicago filming RGI's second DVD

John Phillips - James Morganelli - Jack Hoban & Craig Gray while filming in Chicago

And don't forget Joe Shusko's book, "Tie-Ins For Life."

In addition to the above, I even wrote a new book.  For years people have asked if I was going to have "Ninpo: Living and Thinking as a Warrior" reprinted. The answer is, "probably not."  That was then; this is now.  My thinking has evolved quite a bit in the years since the "Ninja Boom."  I am more interested in what comes next than what I thought then.  The new book is called "The Ethical Warrior," and you can get more info here or on; it's even available for Kindle.

This past year I was again privileged to work with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) in Quantico, Virginia.  This fine program is led ably by LtCol Pat Beckett and my good friend Joe Shusko (LtCol USMC ret.).  It covers armed and unarmed martial arts techniques, combat conditioning, mental training, and character development.

I can't say enough about these young Marines who I am privileged to train with.  They are physically and mentally tough, yet respectful and ethical.  Many are veterans of both Iraq and Afghanistan.  The methodology we use is simple but vitally important: train a lot, talk a bit, train a lot, talk a bit.  The Marines relish the physical training, and then are open to hear how to use their training and core values to maintain their ethics and a "combat mindset" under the adversity of war.  In martial arts training, it is often easy to focus on the physical part while giving mere lip service to the mental and character elements.  But all three parts must go together.

"Training - What if..." - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2012

"Talking Ethical Warriorship" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2012

"Marine Ethical Warriors" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2012
On November 10, 2012, I was especially honored to be the Guest of Honor at the TBS Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Richmond, Virginia.

2012 Marine Corps Ball

Joe and Kadie Shusko provided needed moral support; there were 2,500 people in the audience for my keynote address!

Wounded Warriors
Pretty pleased with the above.  Semper Fidelis!

Which brings us to 2013...

With the Ethical Warrior book and all the articles last year, it is not much of a secret what is on my mind – philosophically, at least.  In June I had dinner with Hatsumi Sensei. We talked about the good old days and a little bit about what I was doing with the Marines and law enforcement community. In the middle of the conversation I asked him if he had any advice.  He looked at me as if I was nutty and said – "Well, no."  And then changed the subject.  Upon reflection, I think he was saying (without saying), "Jack, you are a grown man with 30 years of training experience, isn't it about time you knew what you were doing without me having to tell you  Grow up!"  You have to laugh at that one.

Painting by Masaaki Hatsumi - from author's personal collection 

So let's all grow up.  Take what we have learned and go out and use it.  Stop dressing up in funny outfits, making believe we are ninjas and playing at the martial arts.  Buyῡ Ron Forzani said this year: "Budo is not about fascination; it's about dedication."  Ron is 77 and still training everyday; he knows what he is talking about.

And let's stop waiting around for other people to tell us how to train and live.  We must go out and make a positive difference.  Ourselves.  Let's do what martial artists and warriors are supposed to do: stop conflict and protect others. Be Ethical Warriors.  Remember, if we are not ethical from the inside out, expect our neighbors to demand controls on our behavior from the outside in.  If we believe there are too many rules, laws and regulations imposed upon us today, and want fewer of them, then we know what we have to do…

That said, in my own training I will be working on becoming stronger and more flexible – again, from the inside out.  The rage today is big muscles.  I suppose that looking strong on the outside is supposed to make people feel strong on the inside.  I'm not sure it works that way.  Have you ever been hit by Hatsumi Sensei or Noguchi Sensei?  They have no muscles, and they are 80 and 70 years old respectively.  So how are they so strong?  Think about it.

If you want to work on becoming strong and flexible together, well, come on over some time and let's train!

So here is the theme of our Buyῡ training this year:  Improve every aspect of our physical, mental and moral fitness from the "inside out."  Let's enjoy ourselves and do our best!

Happy 2013!

~ Jack Hoban

Well, there you have it. (Thanks Jack for letting me share) Now I have to get off my butt and do a year recap and projection for my stuff as well (no pressure). Oh wait a minute, I guess I DID that already! Lots happened in 2012 and 2013 is already off to a great (and busy) start.  You can read that by clicking here:

Until next time, take care.

All the best,
~ Craig

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Evolve Your Breathing Book & Video Review

Here and now...breathe and battle and in life”
~ Dan Millman

Without breath there is no life. If you do not breathe well it is difficult to function well. Your capacity to breath effectively will enhance every aspect of your being. Everything from sports training, martial arts and yoga to personal development, meditation, spiritual pursuits, emotional control, tactical shooting and defense revolves around proper breathing.  It will change your game no matter what you are pursuing.  

There are many resources out there regarding proper breathing some are good, others not so much. In today's day and age we have information overload. We are assaulted with so much contradictory information about what to do, it can get very confusing. So how do we navigate through the murky waters of all of this info?

I'm glad you asked...

Let's talk about Jon Haas’s new e-book and video titled Evolve Your Breathing: Essential Techniques For Optimal Performance. Evolve Your Breathing is a fantastic resource for learning a simple systematic approach to breathing that will not only increase your performance, it can change your life.

I am no stranger to breathing techniques. Over the years I have trained the gamut;  ranging from Chinese Chi Kung exercises, to the sports arena, combat sports, weight training, running, swimming, meditation, martial arts, shooting, tactical maneuvering, working through high stress situations and injuries (whether physical or emotional). Now, I’m not saying that I’ve seen everything, but this boy’s been around the block a few times (and then some).  That said, I highly recommend Jon’s new book and video.

Jon’s book covers a variety of exercises including Compressed breathing – Energizing Breath – Endurance and Restoring Breathing – Breathing to Relax and a very useful Rapid Fire Breathing technique that as Jon says, "is to be used when things get difficult and painful.” He goes into detail of what to do, how to do it and why. And if that wasn’t enough, there is a video that goes over all of the training methods, so you can see how it is done.

Both the book and video are easy to follow and understand, no mystical mumbo jumbo here, just straight forward useful information minus the fluff. Jon’s material gets down to business and is immediately accessible to the reader. The techniques are understandable and can be immediately utilized.

Here are the two things I like most about Jon Haas's Evolve Your Breathing training material:

1)      It’s short, concise and gets to the point!
2)      The techniques WORK!

 But don’t just take my word for it, order your own copy and find out for yourself. You won't be sorry!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Active Shooters, Gun Laws & Machine Gun Teachers

Run - Hide - Fight: Active Shooter Survival Training Video from the U.S. Homeland Security Department

The subjects of active shooters, gun laws and teachers carrying firearms at school are hot topics right now for sure. It stirs up a lot of emotions (in me as well) and arguments. Despite all of the difference in opinion, the common ground is this: We are afraid and we want to feel safe. This includes the children, students, teachers, parents, administrators, support staff and community. Some people advocate that in order to protect ourselves and others from potentially lethal threats such as an active shooter that we (in this case teachers) need to be armed, ready to take down the threat. Other people's opinion is that guns are a part of the problem and even considering this "armed teacher" option is adding fuel to the fire and making things worse.

Both sides of the discussion have valid points, however the more we argue the more we continue to become polarized on the subject. As we do this we lose sight of the common ground and spend more time arguing our point and creating adversaries, than working on a solution.

We are all innate protectors. It's what we do. Allow me to illustrate my point:

Would you protect yourself if someone were to threatening you? (emotionally, verbally or physically)

Do you have anyone in your life that you would protect? (your kid, parent, loved one, family, friend, etc?)

Do you have anyone in your life you would risk your own well being for?

Yea, me too.

Well, to take that idea a step further, some of us are leaders (such as teachers) so we have even more of a responsibility to be a protector because of our career choice. Parents put their child's safety in the hands of licensed professionals to have a safe and respectful learning environment. Even more to the point, the children look to the teachers for safety, guidance and leadership. So, whether or not you believe in, or carry a firearm, isn't the point. The point is: How can we all be better protectors of ourselves and others? If you don't like guns, fine, but what CAN you do to maximize your own safety, the safety of your loved ones, those you are responsible for and quite frankly, everyone around you? How can you be more of an effective protector and leader? You should absolutely support your own personal views, exercise your right to vote, advocate for your opinion in whatever manner makes sense, however when the rubber meets the road, it is your personal decision, so don't rely on a law or policy to dictate your personal ethos, or to protect you, your kids or other loved ones. Do your research, train appropriately and respond as needed regarding the situation. As a friend and mentor of mine Jack Hoban says: Our Ethic drives our Tactic which drives our Technique. The Ethic is simple (not to be confused with easy) to protect life. This Ethic > Tactic > Technique concept is even more important when we are faced with situations regarding potential conflict and violence.

Action Steps:

1) See conflict as an opportunity.
2) Activate your Life Protector instinct.
3) TRAIN how to be a better protector in a way that fits into your life philosophy.

Speaking of training, here is the "Surviving an Active Shooter" video put out by the U.S. Homeland Security Dept. to get you going regarding this dangerous type of situations.

Remember, when it comes to discussing emotional subjects like this try to make Allies not Adversaries as you brainstorm solutions and as always keep going!

All the best,
~Craig Gray

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Alpha & Omega: Conflict Management

When Josh Sager owner of New Jersey Personal Defense Academy asked me to write an article for his new website I was excited to contribute. From what I’ve seen, Josh is a talented martial artist and a fine instructor. For decades, he has been both practicing and sharing skills that not only save lives, but also make life more enjoyable to live. The physical preparation that is involved in learning martial arts or any type of tactical training is only one facet of a broader and deeper subject. I often say that physical defensive tactics are the alpha and omega of conflict management. In other words, the beginning and end.

Click here to read the rest of the story...