On Competition in the Marketplace by Scott Sonnon

Recently, I reviewed a product by a company. A competitor of that company called into question my integrity for having reviewed it, because the competitor claimed to have been the owner of the design. Another poster suggested that I would feel just as slighted if someone knocked-off my Clubbell design and claimed it as their own. That raises an interesting point about the nature of the marketplace, and I wanted to share a perspective on the situation, based upon martial art.

Several companies have copied my Clubbell patent. Never once have I ever been involved in its cessation, as the issues were handled through legal channels purely. In most cases, the infringement was stopped. In a few cases, design variations were deemed sufficient to establish it as a non-infringing “new design.”

These Clubbell variants have not only NOT affected my business at all, but with each USPTO certified innovation, my business has increased. Why?

Firstly, because the public craves commercial competition in the marketplace; and only trusts a product if it’s a non-monopoly in price and design. The more options available to the public, the greater total purchasing power that the public invests; the more competitors – the more the sum total purchases. People only trust a product, if its evolution and price is being contested by competitors.

Secondly, because prospects eventually make their way back to me, as the original innovator, since investigation of a discipline explores quality of options and My company is the most experienced and educated (currently) in the discipline.

Lastly, people come to me and stay with me because of my company’s integrity and customer service. The pettiness and juvenile drama of some of my would-be competitors only alienates them and drives customers to my company. I actually try and work with my competitors to lift their maturity level, since I am a fighter and have learned that: better competitors makes ME a better fighter.

I’ve had people I’ve never met, this morning, email and message me, calling into question my integrity simply because I’ve reviewed some company’s product. This sort of immature vitriol PUSHES me away from ever dealing with those people, and NEVER referring them to the government agencies I train. Poor business choices guided by emotion lead to my last point above.

No matter what this party/family writes about me, the clients I train trust my word, because I’ve earned it repeatedly in my behavior and actions, when push comes to shove. Trying to involve me in drama, and indict me of complicity in someone else’s emotional meltdown doesn’t impact me whatsoever.

I’ve been in my business for a very long time. And I’ve been reminded of a very important lesson by people attempting to draw me into what ought to be someone else’s legal battle. That is this:

I believe in the power of capitalism. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service and a lack of viable substitute goods. Patents are an example of a gov’t enforced monopoly, and even they have expiration dates. Why? Because monopolies are anti-competition, and as a result anti-capitalism.

If there were legal recourse for a valid patent infringement, it’s actually a very simple matter to dispute through legal channels. (My FB page isn’t the place for it.) My company has done this several times successfully.

However, there have also been cases where it was deemed not an infringement. In those cases, I am a better businessman because of the competition. The competition forces me to improve in product effectiveness and cost efficiency.

The ultimate decision is made not in court but by public opinion of the product and service. For example, a former associate of mine released a video of a technique I had created. They taught it dangerously and ineffectively. Instead of trying to claim ownership of it (since you can’t “own” movement legally anyway), instead of even complaining that they were never certified in it, I instead avoided all drama, and just offered a free tutorial video demonstrating safe and effective coaching in the technique.

I will stand toe-to-toe on my coaching with anyone in the world, because that’s what I’m best at. The public will execute their vote as to who has the best product or service. And if they’re better, I will become better from it.

I am a fighter, so my belief system has been carved by the nobility of actually getting on the mat and fighting against superior opponents, again and again. I value every loss as much as each win, because the process of ongoing evolution not only helps me as a person, but all of my students and clients through my betterment.

Scott Sonnon
TACFIT Chief Operations Officer
US National Martial Arts Team Coach
US Federal Law Enforcement Instructor
US Army Special Operations Instructor

Language and Success: Invariably Linked

This week’s article is not about training. It’s about success. The following article was written by Mike Panebianco of Able Training Systems, LLC. Here’s more on Mike, in his own words:

My goal and purpose at ATS is to help my clients build their resiliency in challenging conditions. We train multidimensional experiences in communication, confidence building, and personal leadership for corporate or private clients. We blend the research used to enhance flight safety with cutting edge personal defense training to address common resiliency issues. Events cover the span between mindset development to full contact personal safety courses.

Here’s the article.

Success Solution: Words

Changing the way people talk can change their chances of success. I spend a lot of time trying to make my training program, Resiliency Path Training, help people make changes to improve their lives. I have been looking for the one true measure of what will signify success in my own efforts. I think the indicator is language. How do they talk when they are finished with RPT. What does language have to do with it?


Robbins, Covey, Dyer, etc. The guys who make millions trying to make you stronger, change the way you look at things, help you set goals and overcome your obstacles in the path of success, they want you to change the way you behave, the way you think. I’d like to focus down on the one thing that binds us togetherthe way we talk.

The way to elevate your position in life is through your language. Language is what binds us all together, creates our groups, elevates our mission, or chains us to a group of turkeys. It can go either way.

Language Indicates Thoughts and Beliefs

The words we choose give insight to others as to what our thoughts and beliefs are. Do those thoughts and beliefs attract others to where you are, or where you are headed? Are your words consistent and true, or are they self serving?

Ever look at the language people who are “stuck” use? “If only.”, “The Rich”, “Why not me”, “Only the lucky people” begin the statements of why they, and people like them can’t get unstuck. Believe it or not, that language is attractive to people who are stuck. They all stick together.stuck.

Blast out of the cycle. This is a free country, and the last time I checked, there was no genetic requirement to become a success, be confident, or thrive under pressure.. It takes a personal effort. I qualified for food stamps for years in my journey. It wasn’t my birthright to be successful. I found a way out. My language has evolved, it evolved first. The successes followed.

Value in You, and then.

Getting out of the basement with your language is a start. Getting out of the “if only’s”, and “this sucks” and realizing you are capable and worthy is the beginning. Changing your language from poverty to plenty only gets you half way. Self service to your own needs gets you out of the pits and into the race, but you will never be great by using the language that says “I, me, my, mine”. There is no legacy in “me”. Believing in yourself, and reinforcing that belief in your language will start you on your way, but won’t take you to the high ground.

How many of you know people who continually talk about how great they are, how great their product is, how great their accomplishments are? How often do they talk about the value of others? Not often. How many people do you see following them that are of great successes themselves??? Not many. Do these people build anything up other than themselves, at your expense?

These people are not stuck, but they aren’t great to anyone but those beneath them in language.. Think about that..

Listen to the language people are using. If its riddled with I, me, my, mine, you might guess that they have a value system that is focused on just that. Them. That’s better than the destructomatic speech used by the “life isn’t fair” crowd, but it doesn’t lead to true resiliency, or higher ground living. Everything that hits them is some personal affront.because it’s all about “me, I, my, mine” all the time.

Taking the High Ground

The kind of life we all seem to want to live is one of value. Having values, connecting with others with similar values, and enjoying the journey together seems to be a life well lived. In short a more fulfilling life. Regardless of the circumstances we live through..

To leave our mark in this world, we want to not just elevate ourselves to new heights, but we have to bring others on our journey as well. In the Resiliency Path Training model we will frequently talk about High Ground. What we refer to is the place where our values, our mission, our beliefs, and our drive all meet and create the life we aspire to. The Resiliency in RPT is strengthened by the bonds we make with others, the way we elevate others, the way we offer our empathy and compassion, our encouragement, our presence to others. That is signified by our language as we communicate with one another.

Getting to the high ground is NOT a solo mission for anyone. We need others to come along, and as strange as it may seem, you almost have to live to see them get to it first, to help them achieve it themselves for you to ever get to yours. See the paradox in that? Unselfish selfishness? For you to achieve the high ground, you must help others achieve it first. Can you grasp that? It’s the secret of some of the happiest, most successful people you may ever know. (not measured in $$)

Choosing your Language

Choosing the words, “we, us, together, group, team, network” bring that unity to our language that inspires others to join or follow in our journey, and lets them know we are with them in theirs. Language centered around principles brings concrete to the intent of the words. It takes conscious thought to use these words, and to act and think in line with them. Language that is generous, encouraging, inspirational, kind, honest, truthful is congruous with the worthy mission.

Flattery, selfishness, I, Me, slick language is a red flag. Manipulators of language, and frauds are soon exposed. Like a poker player, eventually we can read the tell of someone manipulating language for personal gain.

How many times have you been addressed as a Team, yet looked around and saw a group of individuals who just happened to share proximity, employment, or goals, but didn’t work together at all? I have seen it, and continue to see it every day. It’s empty, uninspiring, and it does nothing to further the team when there’s a bunch of self centered people sharing space. Miami Heat ring a bell this season?? The words have to be backed with value for anyone to buy them. We, Us, Team, Network, value, integrity. It has to be about a cause greater than you.

That means YOU have to believe it, and to wholly rip off the famous movie line from “Field of Dreams”, “If you build it, they will come” Your language can’t just be a ball field in the corn, the game has to live in your head, your actions, your being.

What does this blog mean????

Ok, so you read all this, and you’re saying “Mike, what is all this? You’ve rambled on about language for 1000 words, yet you haven’t said anything about what I should do, or why its important in RPT?”

It’s all about getting you to watch the language you use, and tracking your results. If you’re stuck, you need to find language that will get you unstuck, taking the focus off the wrongs of the world, and back on to you, and the fact that you are as worthy as the next person to be fulfilled.

Once you do that, and you see that it elevates you to a better place, I hope that you will see that the path to great things is by changing that language once again. This time the focus of our language has to be on others. This is the high ground.

If you lead a business or organization, a team, a crew, refocus your language and ask yourself to whom you serve, and to what end? Does your language serve them? That end? Or does your language serve you? Do your results show this?

Challenge yourself. Check your results over time. Change your language, and you may find your actions and thought patterns will change with you. It takes a conscious effort to form effective language. It WILL change you.

The high ground can only be attained and held if we believe, value, and communicate a commitment to the benefit of a greater purpose than ourselves.

How Gear Can Help Take Your Training To The Next Level

The following is a great article written by Ed Flosi. Ed’s a police sergeant in San Jose, California. He has been in law enforcement for over 25 years and is currently assigned as a supervisor in the Training Unit. Ed has a unique combination of academic background and practical real world experience including patrol, special operations and investigations. Ed is the current lead instructor for; (1) use-of-force training, and (2) defense and arrest tactics for the San Jose Police Department.

Using impact suit training effectively and safely
Impact suit training plays an important part in developing an officer’s abilities in and understanding of defensive tactics, known to many as close-quarters combat. Though DT/CQC training encompasses many aspects of potentially violent physical encounters, the time dedicated to impact weapon training can often be sterile and unrealistic. The ability to have a role player suit up in a protective suit and act out dynamic movements can break through the rote drills and deliver a multitude of benefits.

For example, the student’s response to stress can be gauged depending on how aggressive the role player becomes. Also, the targets presented by the role player are much more realistic than a hand held baton shield. Overall, the impact suit was designed to protect the role player from blunt trauma injuries so that the training can be more realistic while lessening the chance of injury to both the student and role player.

One benefit that many trainers agree on is the ability for the role player to hit the student. While this may seem cruel or malicious to the uninformed, there are many police recruits that have never experienced the physical/emotional force and violence of a school-yard fight, contact sports, or a general punch in the face. This is partly (at least) the consequence of a generational change in society.

During the course of a career in police work, there is a high likelihood of an officer being involved in a knock-down, drag-out fight while attempting to take a suspect into custody. During this type of altercation, taking a “punch on the nose” is not unrealistic. It is a good idea for the trainee to discover the physical and emotional response to being punched in the face while still in a training environment. It is important to allow the trainee to experience this sensation, but only to the point that it is instructional and controlled. There is a vast difference between delivering a controlled strike to the student in order to allow him/her to experience it and pummeling a student simply because the role player can.

Injury Mitigation
There is no way to absolutely guarantee that the student will not get injured in these activities but there are several things that can be done to lessen the risk. First and foremost is to remember the purpose of the impact suit. The impact suit was designed to protect the role player from blunt trauma injury. Though impact suits have hand protection similar to those worn in martial art competitions that will mitigate injury to both participants, it was not designed to protect the role-player instructor so that he/she could inflict damage upon the student. As with any training delivery, it is about the student learning and never about the instructor being able to defeat the student. The selection of the instructor to be inside of the impact suit is crucial and should be limited to certified defensive tactics instructors.

A person should not be selected if he/she:

1.) is more interested in impressing the students with their physical skills
2.) cannot control their own emotions and intensity during the scenario

Selecting the proper head gear for the student is critical if the role player is allowed to strike to the head of the student. The head gear should offer sufficient padding surrounding the head to lessen the risk of head injuries. Even the best head gear will not prevent head trauma from a strike that is delivered with full force. Again, it is important that the role player delivers only controlled strikes that will produce the desired effect. Equally important is some type of protection across the face that still allows the student to clearly see the role-player instructor. This will help prevent the nose breaks that will certainly come from using head gear with no face protection. There are several manufacturers that offer face shield solutions.

The safety of the role-player instructor is equally important. Having a second instructor on the mat acting as a safety officer will help accomplish this. The safety officer needs to monitor activities to make sure there are no reasonably preventable injuries to either the student or the role player. While the impact suit itself will protect the role player from blunt trauma injury, there are other ways the role player may become injured unless certain parameters are established for the engagement.

A student that becomes panicked, overwhelmed, or enraged and begins to use tactics that may easily injure the role player must be stopped by the safety officer immediately.

Staying Safe and Effective
Identify the training objective(s) and set the scenario to accomplish the objective(s) with the idea that the student will succeed if they follow the learning points of the lesson. The scenario elements should be as realistic as possible and the role-player instructor should act the part as if it were a real situation. Students should be instructed to take the training seriously and participate as if the situation was an actual field encounter.

I was privileged to have recently attended a course taught by members of the Salt Lake City Police Department regarding their response to several active shooter events (I highly recommend this course for all law enforcement). Among the many points they discussed, one that parallels our training objectives was the need to convince the students that the training scenario is real in their own minds. If the student believes the training scenario to be real, the brain will be “tricked” into thinking that the student has already “been theredone that” when the actual event happens.

Allowing the role-player instructor to improvise and/or deviate from the script for the sake of amusement or self-gratification should never be allowed. An example of this would be a scenario that is designed to test the impact weapon skills of the officer while under stress after cardiovascular exercise to increase the heart rate. The role-player instructor is ordered to continue the fight until instructed by the safety officer to stop. The role-player instructor is told to only offer resistance that would not cause the student to have to use deadly force. It would completely alter the scenario from the objective if the role player were to decide to change the parameters of the scenario to include:

1.) attempting to disarm the student (which may be a great scenario in another training session), or,
2.) pulling the student’s shirt over their head and pummeling the student with repeated hammer fist blows to the back of the head

Assessing Submission Recognition
One of the advantages to impact suit training is the capability to assess the student’s ability to “switch on” the force when it is objectively reasonable to do so. Officers that use too little force or hesitate to use force when appropriate increase their risk of injury and sometimes end up using a more intrusive level of force to solve a now more dangerous or out of control situation. Just as important to assess this “switch on” ability, it is equally important to assess the student’s ability to “switch off” the force when the suspect has submitted.

The ability to conduct successful impact weapon suit training is completely in the hands of the trainers. Keeping the training realistic, effective, safe and within the parameters of your learning objectives will allow this important training to continue in your agency.

Safety in LE training is an attitude, not an action

The following is an article by Sgt. Steve Papenfuhs as it appeared in PoliceOne. It’s a must read for any involved in training…at any level.

“In my three decades (plus) as a trainer first in the martial arts then in law enforcement I’ve come across a number of instructors who seem to have something to prove. Some have needed to prove how smart they are, and as usual by doing so they look stupid. Some have had to prove that they were the Swami of SWAT by listing all the tactical courses they’ve attended (including some that don’t exist!). These are the “high-speed, low-drag, all-thrust no-vector, paint it black and call it tactical, call every tool a system,” guys.

Some have to prove that they’re “in charge” and must be “respected” so they’re prone to telling police recruits that they must do exactly as they say or they will willingly fail them out of the academy. They may say stuff like:

“You let your hand spin on that prone handcuffing position yes the suspect’s shoulder is still pinned, yes the elbow is still locked in an arm-bar, yes the wrist is still in a flexed wrist-lock, yes the suspect is in the perfect prone position I taught you, but you allowed your controlling hand to spin 180 degrees and your fingers are now pointed in rather than out, so I need to fail you out of the academy.”

Some have to prove how tough they are by punching the crap out of recruits while they themselves are protected in an impact suit. As you can probably tell, I have no time for these individuals.

Recruit Officer John Kohn
Now, don’t jump to conclusions as I reference the recent death of Recruit Officer John Kohn, who died after suffering a head injury during training at the Norfolk Police Academy. I am not implying that any of the instructors who were present when he was injured meet the descriptions above. This incident simply serves as a reminder and a wake-up call to all police trainers. I am sure that the trainers present during the event had the best interests of the recruits in mind. PoliceOne has posted a couple of news items on the incident. You can see them here and here.

Please keep in mind that, as always, these videos cannot tell the entire story.

According to news reports, Kohn was punched in the face by a police trainer on December 7th of last year. Kohn explained to classmates and his wife that he “got his bell rung” and that he had a headache. It is not clear if he reported this to his supervisors. Two days later during a ground-fighting session he first collided with another student and then was punched several times by an instructor. Kohn was admitted to the hospital and died from head injuries on December 18th. Doctors determined that he had suffered two brain injuries.

Training-related Deaths are Anomalies
Although extremely rare, the death of a law enforcement recruit during combatives training is not unheard of. In May 2005, a recruit at the Texas Department of Public Safety academy died after having participated in a full-contact sparring match with another trainee. It was reported that even though two trainers advised against it, those trainers were overruled by the lieutenant and the recruit was matched against a physically superior classmate. That death led to an investigation of the training conducted at the Texas DPS academy.

The investigation disclosed that between 1996 and 2005, there were 392 injuries sustained by recruits during “Active Countermeasures” training. Fifty-seven of those injuries were classified as compensable head injuries (covered by worker’s compensation.) This included 36 concussions, 18 contusions, two lacerations, and one sprain. At least eight of these concussions were diagnosed as serious head injuries. These 57 head injuries did not include eye, ear or other non-concussion facial injuries. As a result of the death and subsequent investigation, the Active Countermeasures program was discontinued.

Thankfully, these are rare events. Considering the number of police recruits going through reality-based-training, these deaths are anomalies. We want recruits to gain an experience of combat in a controlled environment. We need to prepare them for the interpersonal violence that each of them will face someday on the mean streets. It is rare that an officer will use deadly force during his or her career. But, no matter how eloquent and persuasive a law enforcement professional is with his verbal skills, at some point a subject is going to become physically resistant. And, the officer must use his physical skills to convince the individual that “resistance is futile.”

Policies, Procedures, and Protocols
So, what can we do to fulfill the need of realistic training while minimizing injuries? First, make the training realistic. In other words, stop trying to teach the perpetual yellow-belt/black-belt tactics. Your average recruit will be expected to control an aggressive maniac with far fewer hours of training than your high school freshman wrestler gets before his first match. Don’t get me wrong. I love training in wrestling, BJJ, judo, muay thai, Krav, and MMA. But, much of that is not what we should be emphasizing to our recruits.

Next, remember why you, as a trainer, are there. You’re there for the recruit, not to prove how tough you are or to practice your skills on a human punching bag. Being there for the recruit means caring about his welfare. If you are in an impact suit and the recruit accidentally strikes you in the head with a soft baton that can’t possibly do any damage to you, why get angry and “punish” him? Trying to convince him that he needs to be better with his targeting by punching him repeatedly in the face is not productive.

Recruits need to know that they must acknowledge and report injuries. There is no room for “walking it off” in our environment. If they are injured, they need to know that they can report the injury without attaching any stigma. Train your instructors how to punch a recruit without injuring him. I can honestly say that I cannot remember ever injuring any of the thousands of recruits that I have trained. Oh, I’ve tagged them, but because I have never been trying to hurt them, pay them back, or see how good I am, none has sustained any significant injury.

Make sure that you have policies, procedures, and protocols in place for any high-level training. This will include the use of personal safety equipment such as head gear, padded gloves, and mouthguards. Know what your instructor to student ratio should be to enhance safety. Never allow a trainer to overwhelm a recruit. They should be progressively pushed to higher levels of performance, but going too far too fast is a recipe for disaster. Have water, a first aid kit, and ice packs close at hand in case of injuries. Most importantly, we can reduce injuries to recruits by remembering why we are there.

We are there for them. We are there to make them better. We are not there to practice our own skills or to prove how tough we are.”