Would you rather be a Neanderthal or a Contemporary Human Being?

For a relatively young individual I have a spent a long time researching my own experiences utilizing the lens of Combative training, including Martial Art, Empty Hand and Weaponry, and other related tools that shape the physical human form. Such molding seems at first to be purely on a physical level, but to those few that have gone the distance with intensity, it is very much a psychological, emotional and even spiritual metamorphosis as well.

Over the past year I have been bombarded by questions about why I have switched, detoured or even re-vamped my training by moving away from some sources of information in the combative world. I thought I would share this salient response.

Evolve or Die !! Would you rather train in the original almost Paleolithic way, or would you rather evolve in the new advancements that others have pioneered in their own unique wisdom.

Take the Functional Edge System, that is developed by my friend and colleague Tony Torres. I just spent the last 2 weeks, training with and assisting in conducting programs for Law Enforcement, Military, Civilian and Private Security personnel. here is what I have seen against the backdrop of my previous training. Tony Torres, gives all respect due to his sources of information, which include Notable martial artists and Combative Trainers, like Dan Inosanto, Erik Paulson, Chai Sirisute, Tony Blauer etc. However he has taken the material to a completely different level. I have had the fortunate experience to train and work with some of those same trainers and others as well in my own journey and I can clearly see the differences and improvements.

And some in the industry see my training with and endorsement of Tony Torres, and his training evolutions as disloyal and a dishonorable departure from my own sources. So I have two initial responses:

Firstly try it and really immerse yourself and really compare and contrast and honestly say whether it does not hold its own in the industry. For instance I have seen many former trainers who had previous experience in the combative world have their epiphanies while reviewing the material.

Secondly I ask the question- Would you rather own a Model T or a Ferrari? Would you rather eat raw meat or Filet Mignon ? The original is fine. But progress is inevitable unless you are a Luddite.

The other improvements I have been fortunate and open minded enough to experience are in the world of Protective Equipment. For years there was the prototype and the only product in the space that we used. Now there is SPARTAN Training Gear. Not only has the company developed a Goddess suit, the first suit specifically designed to accommodate the anatomical differences of female participants, but they are working on another innovation with a K9 suit for Police trainers and their K9’s. The main model- the Hoplite, is at first glance a colored version of another product with ABS. Those comments are really simplistic and uninformed. There are over 30 changes that were made to the original design that include Helmet re-design to allow better force distribution and cushioning, an improved visor that does not fog!! Any person who has used the other suits long enough have encountered the little mal-functions that make a big difference when training. For instance the Velcro straps that keep coming off, or the knee pads that offer little cushioning to the lateral angles etc. The point here is, since the first design from Nike from Prefontaine’s ideas, many innovations have been made and to the undiscerning eye or in the tone of blind condemnation, the are just shoes, and rip offs of the original.

No one has a monopoly on genius and innovation. This is the way of the world. When you put your stuff out there in the universe it is going to influence, and stimulate other ideas etc. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s  Book- What the Dog saw. and you will see a great chapter on Plagiarism etc. What is original exactly? I always laughed at people, who copyrighted ( or made their students believe that they did) sayings that originated from Bruce Lee or Tsun Tzu. Hell, even Bruce Lee’s designs for a force on force suit look very similar to the ones we have now? Copy Cat? Come on . And guess what if you think I am a Bruce Lee Champion, my JKD colleague’s may take offense to this at first glance, but know its true, alot fo the Philosophy of JKD, Lee’s Art, came from an Indian philosopher J.N. Krishnamurti. Before MMA in the US, there was Pancrase, Lucha Libre, Shooto, and Kalari death matches. So come on, what is original.

I know for one, society has evolved leaps and bounds over eons of time. The unnatural thing is to resist the evolution. And nature has a funny way of promoting Evolution over stagnation.

Evolve or Die!!

Vit Singh – President, EMC USA

Getting the Mind and Body Back in Focus by Jose Medina


There are many programs out there that are designed for fitness purposes. After returning home from a long day at work I might find myself up until about 3 am watching a little Sports Center and every once in a while glancing at some of the infomercials that are out there showing a new training machine, or a new fitness training system. While on the social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, I will get many links of training fitness programs that are out there as well. From the kickboxing training home videos to the spinning classes in a fitness center near you there are a large menu of options to choose from. The question is: What or why do you want to get in shape. lose weight, get muscular or simply get healthier?

The amazing perception I have seen is how the pharmaceutical industry is plastered throughout the day with medicines that can help and cure everything from “restless leg syndrome” to simply breathing normal syndromes. Meanwhile health and wellness commercials sit on the back burner of late night television where limited viewers get to see what can really “help” you to become healthier.

It is no secret that your health and mission to be healthy starts with the mind. Without the mind acknowledging that a change for better health and wellness is needed, your body will just go through the motions of exercise and going to the store and buying some LOW fat food or magic diet pill that simply doesn’t work.

What we all need to understand is that stress is a major killer for anyone one of us. I am sure we have all heard the story of the most fit person you have ever met and suddenly they dropped dead of a heart attack. Many would scratch their heads and say “well I might as well not train then since they died and were in great shape, why bother?”

Maybe so, but in the end who do you owe it to when it comes to being healthier? Do you have loved ones who depend on you being there the best you can to keep the family network going strong? Or are you alone and have no responsibilities? Think again as you at least have a job to contend with and your own “self” that could always use a little tweaking and fine tuning. After all in any of your job fields, how bad do you get affected in performance when you do not exercise or release stress?

I have never been a fan of “diets” and eating low fat this or that. I look at it as “wellness eating”. Eat what I want but in moderation. Eat cleaner more than dirtier. I look back at the history of our world where warriors who fought in battles did not have the supermarkets that had low fat this and low fat that yet they maintained awesome physiques throughout their lives. Whether it was man or woman it was the active lifestyle, being that of war or simply the environment around them, they still had to cut wood for fires as they did not have Lowe’s stores with pre cut wood to service their needs and they certainly did not have Playstations to sit in front of a television to occupy their countless hours of days and nights to keep them from getting the proper exercises they needed. Now I am a big fan of many of those games as I find stimulus in many aspects of technology however it is like alcohol or meatball subs: take them all in with moderation.

Life itself must be absorbed in moderation and in training for fitness, you need to vary your training and keep the training interesting. Of course it may not always be exciting but for overall health and wellness, you will be surprised on how much better your mind will function after a good healthy walk, a good training circuit in the gym, some good self defense training especially with coaches using good solid impact reduction suits to really stimulate “reality training” along with awesome conditioning.

The mind needs to be fit. It needs good reading on a daily basis while at the same time to relieve the possible stresses in your life, the mind is craving change, stimulus to become healthier and stronger. Always know there is no magic pill that you can swallow that can change you into the person you want to be. It is the mind that is the magic pill that needs to be fueled to motivate you to take the next steps into changing your life, becoming healthier and being a happier person.

There are many trainers out there in the field of fitness training, self defense training and overall life coaching training. Do not be afraid of exploring new options and variations of training. Do not stick with just one format as your brain will figure it out most of the time and it will become bored. Change up work out routines, the days you train and the duration you train in. For good wellness and health a good trainer can get you into a work out that can last no more than 30 minutes with great results. If you are training for more intense competition, longer duration work outs are needed but never rule out replicating an upcoming competition such as an MMA fight or other special event with the limited time to complete fitness tasks.

Overall your mind and body need each other. Your CNS or Central Nervous System is the engine that helps make things happen. Try many programs and not just one. There has never been just ONE that can do it all. In the end, if you need that stress relief, if you are on the edge, it is your mind telling your body that you need to release it. Fitness and health and wellness is a great medicine and a pill I love to take on a daily basis. How about you?

Training with Deficits by Craig Flaherty

Preface: This is a must read. I’m taking the liberty of sharing this with my close friends who are police officers, trainers and their families. – Marc Joseph


For years I have been a trainer in one fashion or another. From time to time I have been approached by one person or another asking if they could participate in an upcoming course. The reasoning they gave for the question was they suffered from some type of physical deficit. Always they were welcomed with open arms and what ever concession that needed to be made was made. We worked around the limitations and not only did they learn and process the information imparted, so did I having to work around several different scenarios. I must admit though, when the class was over I really did not give it a second thought. I just went along with life until the next time the question came up.

In my adult life I have been in relatively decent shape. Training as a student in combatives and firearms kept me in shape. Teaching these courses did not hurt either. I was just going through life without much of a care.

March 24, 2010 I woke up early in the morning, and as normal proceeded with the beginning of the day. I did notice a burning of the eyes and little problem focusing. I just chalked this up to being early in the morning, As I progressed I quickly lost control of the left side of my body running into a wall. Knowing this was not right I called to my wife and we went to the hospital. Within a short time after a battery of tests I was informed I had suffered a stroke.

The next few days were spent in the hospital with the normal worries that go along with this type of event. I was lucky I spent three days in the stroke floor of the hospital and four in the rehabilitation floor. This is when I had several epiphanies as to my long term ability to teach combatives and firearms.

I had lost substantial control of my left side and had no prognosis when it would return. Through rehabilitation I started to work on every day things, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking I can’t quickly grasp with my left hand I surely cannot execute a magazine change or effectively deliver a strike. I had an upcoming weekend of Suarez International courses to teach in May and was concerned that not only I may not be able to teach in six weeks; I may not be able to teach in the foreseeable future.

I now had an appreciation for all those students that I have taught that had a concern with their own deficit. Could they perform to a standard? Would they be responsible for holding back the class? Would they be risking too much and embarrass themselves? These are all valid questions, and now I had a small understanding as to how this truly affected people and their decisions to train.

Once I was able to rehabilitate at home out came the unloaded firearms. And while off work and watching television I accomplished magazine change after magazine change. Not a pretty sight at first. Many a magazine skidded across the floor from me missing the magazine well, to just plain dropping the magazine. I started with an H&K USP the handgun with the largest magazine well I had on hand. I then was able to whittle my target area down to a magazine well of a 1911.

Once I was able to make a magazine change with little effort, I struck out to test my moving skills. I had been slowly getting my walking gait back up to where it had been, but things as fatigue and the effects of the stroke held my progress back. I decided it was time to try to get off the “X” and try lateral movement. As long as I moved at a moderate pace I was fine. Unfortunately for me, if I expected to teach a Close range Gunfighting class in the coming weeks, the instructor should be able to move a little faster that moderately.

As I attempted to move at a pace close to full speed, I met terra firma several times. This led to looks of pity from the wife and kids. My understanding of folks that have some type of mobility deficit increased. I kept getting up and trying, until I wasn’t falling very much. Now I felt I was ready to teach, but still in the back of my mind a little doubt crept in.

In the days and weeks before that May class I thought a lot of what I had gone through. Though my journey in no way compares to someone who has suffered a permanent deficit for what ever reason, it did give me a small insight into the problems these folks face.

As the class came closer I had similar questions of my self as a student with a deficit would have of me. Could I perform to a standard that would teach my students what they came to learn? Would I be responsible for holding back the class? Not giving them their moneys worth of training. Would I be risking too much and embarrass myself? More importantly would I embarrass Gabe and all the other Staff Instructors? Would I be hurting The Suarez International reputation?

The dreaded weekend of the class arrived. The weekend started with Introduction to Defensive Pistol on Friday and Close Range Gunfighting on Saturday and Sunday. Friday went without a hitch, but I was really worried about the Close Range Gunfighting class. The class went well with only a couple times did I notice a problem. Verbally I would falter a time or two, but when discussing shooting on the move in general and me demonstrating moving and shooting I stumbled. Other than that it went well. My confidence was renewed. I have only gotten stronger since that class.

What this diatribe is all about; for the most part your deficit is mostly a hindrance if you allow I to be. After all it is your fight you are going fighting. You need the skills to defend you and your family. That is your responsibility. If you are as lucky as I was and the deficit is short term, great train through it and go forward. If the deficit is longer term or you are just getting older and parts don’t work as well as they did. Improvise adapt and overcome.

This is where the instructor comes in. Communicate your concerns, and if at all possible I as an instructor should tweak the course to include you as a valuable member of the class. It is incumbent on the instructor to do this. After all, the course should be about the students, not how cool I am as instructor is. Train hard no matter what your deficit. The rest of the class may not even notice that accommodations have been made. You will be able to perform to the standard. You will not hold back the class. You will not risk anything and I will not allow you to embarrass yourself. That is the promise any good instructor will give you

About the author: Craig Flaherty is a Columbus-based active duty police officer, Investigative and Tactical team member and a Suarez International Instructor.

Perception Versus Reality: How Having Enhanced Gear Changes the Game in Your Training Arena

Jose Medina

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to train in plenty of force on force training exercises as well as develop and coordinate scenario based training operations for law enforcement and military operators worldwide. I have had the privilege to don many of the innovative training suits in the market from the original REDMAN gear to FIST which was used for our live baton training. Then as time went on innovation came to life with a more light weight suit which made the ability to move faster and strike harder an intense reality change in how trainers and students create reality based training. In came the High Gear suit which made the ability to move faster and conduct role playing operations more realistically. The ability to create better role player scenarios, train in serious self defense training programs now came in the form of lighter weight impact reduction suits. So I thought…

In comes the Spartan Gear Hoplite Training Armour Elite Suit which added some major dimensions to the “perception” of impact reduction suits. You see, where the others have major place in our training arenas, the Spartan Gear Hoplite Armour Elite took it to the next level by adding some great features and on feature that is most important in how we train. The extra security velcro straps mounted on the helmets and the other suit attachment areas has made training even that much better without losing velcro strap attachments whether it is the leg straps or upper torso areas. But here is the real critical part: Colors and perception.

It is important to understand that people need to perceive and see assorted colors and descriptions of figures and shapes when confronting subjects in the the real world. Not everyone is wearing all black ninja outfits and there arenʼt many people wearing all red from head to toe in the streets on an every day basis. During critical incidents, witnesses may be asked about what or who they saw and they normally provide general information on the suspect or suspects. This comes from their “perceptions” and what their eyes see. This same process applies with law enforcement officers in the field where they will provide descriptions of subjects they see during their encounters. It is a very important aspect of training and it is needed to help officers deal with use of force situations. Whether it is active shooter training, SWAT training, self defense training or officer survival training, we must teach and educate our personnel the concept of “perception and observations” and color is one of the most important aspects in reality based training.


What the Spartan Hoplite Armour does for advanced trainers is provide assorted color torsos that allow for trainers to change up characters wearing the suits from Royal Blue, Crimson Red to Military Green. When training in very fast movement training systems where subjects move quick and operators move quicker to the threat the Spartan Gear color systems give the added element of descriptions of subjects without just sticking to the all black or red colors provided by other suits. In the end you want your operators to train and respond to the world of “reality” and the Spartan Gear Hoplite Training Armour Elite brings true perception to life.

Jose Medina is the President & Director of Operations at Awareness Protective Consultants, LLC. He is an 18-year police veteran, USMC, SWAT Operator & First Responder.

Read Jose’s complete bio here: http://www.apcsecurities.net/7.html

Find out more about APC and there programs here: http://www.apcsecurities.net/94.html

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Stress Exposure Training – Part 3

This is the final installment of a three-part series on Stress Exposure Training written by Ger O’Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

Hoplite Training Armour allows us introduce contact in a gradual, sensible and realistic way so that people can conduct those ‘personal experiments’ which are referred to by the SIT methodology.  Incorporating equipment such as the Hoplite Training Armour allows us to drastically increase the intensity of our training sessions compared to what we could achieve without it.

We can gradually build up the intensity of the confrontation experience for our trainees, while maintaining a low-risk training environment. Using our Hoplite Training Armour let’s us take the theoretical guesswork out of the training, SAFELY.

Even where we work low-intensity training sessions, with for example trainees who will have only one day with us, we can begin to give them closer-to-real-life experience of what it feels like to make aggressive contact with another human being.  This is something that many people have never experienced and which is deeply challenging for them.   Phase One and Phase Two of the SIT approach provide excellent preparation for this phase, even given just a couple of hours with the trainees.

Incorporating contact during training, which the Hoplite Armour allows us to do, has significant benefits.  It allows trainees who have never struck another person in anger, to do so for the first time.   The trainee can then go on to experience that moment again, and again.   Each time, she will ‘groove’ her response a little deeper, re-inforcing the decision she made, the tactical needs in the situation, the physical sensation of initiating a strike and the results it produced.   She will also be ‘grooving over’ any residual doubt, hesitation, fear or panic which she may have brought to the situation.

Specific to the Hoplite Armour, we can say with some authority that it allows the average person to use most of their capacity in delivering a strike to another person with a very high degree of safety for the person inside the armour.  A full Hoplite suit covers the whole body and allows maximum movement potential in all three combative dimensions – standing, clinched or grounded.   

Training according to this SIT model benefits when the role-player inside the Armour can closely replicate the behaviours that will be seen in reality (‘training fidelity’ which I will address in a following article), including the pre-assault behaviours and in responding with realism when impacted by the other role-players in the exercise.   

Hoplite Armour in particular allows the role player to broadcast pre-assault behaviours and impact behaviours extremely well because it is a lightweight, low-bulk suit which transmits small tell-tale body-language which are being broadcast.    This is highly important because our trainee needs to be able to react and respond to the earliest signs of confrontation (as shown by body language changes in the aggressive person) and also to the earliest cues of a physical assault when initiated. 

By experiencing the uncertain, spatially chaotic and rapidly-unfolding nature of high-speed scenario replication, the trainees become inoculated, to an appropriate degree relevant to the depth of their training, to it.  This is particularly successful if they are guided and mentored through the exercises by an experienced trainer who can use coaching methods to motivate them to persevere.

Want to know more?
All Dynamis Training Courses incorporate these advanced concepts in training for confrontation management.

They will be running the BTEC Level 3 Self-Defence Instructor Accreditation course on July 27th – 29th, 2011. The course will provide progressive self-defence, breakaway and officer safety instructors of all kinds with a framework for teaching self-defence which is legally sound, risk-aware and has a basis in the science and psychology of inter-personal conflict as discussed here on theDynamis Insight Blog.

Dynamis is the UK Authorised Dealer for Spartan Training Gear and the Hoplite Training Armour.

Stress Exposure Training – Part 2

This is the second of a three-part series on Stress Exposure Training written by Ger O’Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

Applying the SIT model to Self-Protection and Confrontation Management

Phase One of training has to do with having trainees confront their own understandings of the nature of conflict and how they deal with it. A trainer may provide some exercises for the trainees – ‘thought experiments’ – regarding some conflict scenarios and garner the trainee’s response to this. Commonly, for example, a trainer might ask the trainees how they would deal with a much stronger opponent, with tattoos and scars and who looks ‘hard’, in order to provoke a discussion about the nature of intimidation.

This phase encourages the visualisation of conflict scenarios and the development of mental models, decision-making strategies and personal internal commitments to the issue of conflict. In our experience at Dynamis, a discussion of the law in regard to reasonable force and the case-law from that field offers an excellent vehicle for this phase of training as it has much to do with how emotional-cognitive decisions are made.

Phase Two of training has to do with skill development, at an intensity which gradually builds competence with the skills required to persevere and successfully manage the confrontation. Trainees are provided with relevant and effective skills which are comparitively easy to acquire given the amount of time they can devote to the training. We have written at length about the issues with much self-defence and breakaway training and the over-complexity, under-relevance of it here on this blog previously.

During this phase the trainees have the opportunity to rehearse the coping/confronting skills, re-imagining the process of the confrontation from one with a negative outcome to one with a positive outcome – reversing the ‘prey’ role which can crystallise in high-stress moments.

Trainees re-structure they way in which they approach the confrontation, using their internal dialogue and their internal associations differently now. Trainees develop, with time and opportunity, new problem-solving abilities which give them more options and alternatives during a confrontation – they begin, in short, to think more tactically about situations, because their level of stress-arousal is reducing as the problem becomes clearer and more familiar.

Phase Three of training provides the trainees with the opportunity to now apply their new skills in (again, gradually) increasing levels of intensity, although at this time the trainer should be focussing on bringing not just intensity but reality into the training. The focus here is on providing a variety of opportunities for the trainee to experience the entirety of the preparation which has gone before.

For example, in our training at Dynamis, the trainee will be placed in situations where they must now make decisions and take action based on their own beliefs and in accordance with Use of Force law, personal Duty of Care or Task Role, Risk Assessment, their ability to verbally manage the confrontation and then finaly their physical capacity to protect themselves or another. Running these scenarios can take from 15 seconds to 90 seconds to complete, depending on the amount of pre-assault verbal dialogue and the motivation/aggression level of the role-players.

The use of training armour can significantly effect the fidelity of this Phase Three training. At Dynamis, we use Hoplite Training Armour. In our next article we will discuss how the Hoplite Armour assists us to provide Stress Inoculation and Stress Exposure to our trainees.

Part 3 to follow…

Stress Exposure Training – Part 1

This is the first of a three-part series on Stress Exposure Training written by Ger O’Dea of Dynamis Training & Insight

Training people to deal with the stress of a violent confrontation can benefit from the methods used in some psychotherapy.

This article deals with the use of Stress Inoculation Training to guide Self-Protection and Physical Intervention trainers in the development of robust training programmes which will be resilient in the face of intense confrontations.

Stress is a process whereby environmental demands evoke an appraisal process in which perceived demand exceeds resources, and that results in undesirable physiological, psychological, behavioural or social outcomes.”
– Salas, Driskell and Hughes, 1996

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) emerged out of an attempt to integrate the research on the role of cognitive and affective factors in coping processes with the emerging technology of cognitive behavior modification (Meichenbaum, 1977).   SIT has been employed to help individuals cope with the aftermath of exposure to stressful events and sometimes it has even been used on a preventative basis to “inoculate” individuals to future and ongoing stressors.

In order to enhance individuals’ coping repertoires and to empower them to use already existing coping skills, the SIT model uses a three-phase approach.  

SIT Phase One – Breaking Down the Problem
Regardless of the particular stressor which we are trying to prepare them to deal with, trainees are encouraged to view perceived threats and provocations as ‘problems-to-be-solved’ and to identify those aspects of some situations and their own reactions that are under their internal control and those aspects that are not under their control or influence.

This is the first step in breaking-down a stressor which at first seems overwhelming.

The clients are taught how to breakdown these ‘global stressors’ into specific short-term, intermediate and long-term coping goals.  The trainees’ response to the stressor is re-packaged as being made-up of different components that have been identified and examined in detail.   The trainee builds an understanding of each thing that needs to happen for the stressor to become overwhelming.

High-stress situations tend to go through predictable phases and so the trainee who will be successful should go through a process of preparing, building up, confronting, and reflecting upon their reactions to stressors also.

SIT Phase Two – Developing Skills to Deal with the Problem
The second phase of SIT requires focus on skills acquisition and rehearsal  and it follows naturally from the initial conceptualization phase which came before it.   The coping or confronting skills that are taught and practiced in the training setting are then gradually rehearsed ‘in vivo’ and are tailored to the specific stressors trainees may have to deal with.

SIT Phase Three – Exposure to the Problem
The final phase of training and preparation provides opportunities for the clients to apply the variety of skills they have learned to deal with the problem across increasing levels of intensity.    This is where the inoculation concept – as used in medical immunization – becomes evident.  Techniques such as imagery and behavioral rehearsal, modeling, role playing, and  graded in vivo exposure in the form of “personal experiments”  are used during this phase to increase the trainees competence.

Part 2 to follow…


A very interesting article written by my colleague: Jason Wilterdink

In our modern American society everyone is aware of health risks and factors such as cholesterol, diabetes, healthy eating, and exercise. Whether you take responsibilities for these aspect’s of your life or not is another matter, but American’s at least have some knowledge of these factors.

In America we are aware of and consumed by violence. Stories of soldiers who were killed in action and fallen Police Officers make big news. Stories of murder, battery, assaults, rape, and violence are broadcast all over every form of media available.

What most soldiers, cops, medical professionals, dispatchers and citizens are unaware of is true mental health. They are unaware of how to truly exercise their mental health, risk factors, and they are unaware of the diet their emotions and mind consumes each day. Think I don’t have my facts straight? Hold on tight, I am about to reveal dirty little secrets to you that should cause a paradigm shift.

FACT: According to FBI statistics 100-200 (average is 150) cops are killed every year by felonious assault and on duty accidents / injuries (www.nationalcops.com www.officerdown.com www.officer.com http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr )

FACT: Neither the FBI nor any government organization tracks Law Enforcement Officers who commit or try to commit suicide

FACT: A ruling of suicide can be difficult to ascertain. If a person dies of an overdose and there is no suicide letter was it accidental or intentional?

FACT: www.tearsofacop.com says that 300 cops commit suicide each year

FACT: www.thepainbehindthebadge.com says that suicide is the #1 killer of American Police Officers

FACT: www.heavybadge.com and www.psf.org (the police suicide foundation) are two of the best kept secrets about police suicide. No one wants to talk about this or admit it exists, it is real and you should investigate it for yourself

FACT: There are reports of more soldiers committing suicide in a single month than what have been killed in an entire year in Afghanistan or Iraq (poke around the internet – these stories are everywhere)

This should scare you and it should piss you off! It does both to me. Our soldiers, cops, medical professionals and dispatchers are some of the best people in our country. They are the bravest, most moral, ethical, kind, and heroic people in our country. Yet what is happening to them causes more of them to kill themselves than the “enemy” or the “bad guys” ever could. What is worse is that politicians and people who know this dirty secret hide it out of shame.

We need leadership! The leadership and courage to acknowledge and admit there is a problem. The leadership and courage to research the problem. The leadership and courage to teach people about the problem. The leadership and courage to fix the problem.

We need to learn how to “dial down”. This is a term I have taken from the MHC – the Military Healing Center out of Canada. The MHC has developed a program called MBV – or meditation breathing and visualization. Before you laugh listen up! I am a tough guy and a macho guy. I have attended every cool kick-ass macho tough guy class I can afford, and I will continue to do so for decades to come. It is hard for me to admit that the job gets to me. I am “normal” because of it. I admit I have started to use some portion of the MBV program daily. I sleep better, I think more clearly, and I function better because of it! If you want to call me a name which is synonymous with being wimpy or not macho go ahead. If you can’t openly admit that you can benefit from MBV go ahead. But the statistics say you are hiding a secret.

You see if 300 to 450 cops each year are willing to kill themselves how many more are depressed but not suicidal? How many are angry, sad, depressed, upset, frustrated, or disillusioned? How many of them have had their emotional state negatively affect their life, their marriage, their family, and their career?

No one taught me how to dial down before I started my career! Sure we “talked” about stress, but no one had the tools to teach me to deal with it. The next observation I make is the people who are the best at high speed tactical environments are most at risk. If you want to call these people “the best” at tactics go ahead, I would agree, but I do not want to risk insulting the Officers and soldiers among us who are less tactical (SWAT cops and tactical instructors vs. DARE cops and DARE teachers for example / or Spec-Ops soldiers fighter pilots and infantry soldiers vs. support soldiers who are “in the rear with the gear”).

Every soldier, cop, dispatcher, medical services provider, firefighter, and air traffic controller needs to learn how to dial down! But us people who are more macho, more dominant, more Alpha, and who have taught ourselves how to process lots of information very rapidly in rapidly unfolding life or death situations need this stuff the most! We need to learn how to let go, relax, be still, and take information one kernel at a time instead of burning the entire bag of popcorn.

Dialing down is as important and maybe more important than learning tactics, how to shoot, and how to fight! Dialing down is a tool that is as important or more important than all the crap carried on a cop’s batman belt or a soldier’s kit!

Several Resources I recommend:
MBV can be purchased from America’s Modern Knights at www.americasmodernknights.com

The book “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement” or the seminar by Retired Officer Kevin Gilmartin PhD can be purchased from www.emotionalsurvival.com

Additional information on this phenomena and seminars, training, and resources can be obtained from:


I have attended the Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement seminar and The Pain Behind the Badge seminar. Emotional Survival for Law enforcement and the MBV program are now required for any student in my Healthy Lifestyles for Law Enforcement class. I recommend these resources highly. My soon to be released book; Healthy Lifestyles For Law Enforcement will outline a holistic approach including mindset, diet, exercise, sleep, emotional survival, and dialing down. I also look forward to other dialing down products and service offered by the MHC.

Let’s cut through the pain, the silence, and the shame! Let’s courageously expose this horrible dark secret. Let’s fix this problem. Suicide, depression, mental health disease, heartache and suffering should not be this big of a problem among our countries heroes! These people all passed the most grueling application process, training, and psychological tests in order to serve and help others. It is clear that they are not the problem. It is clear that something has happened to them and it is likely work related. Please join me in any shape or form you wish. Please educate yourself, do your own research, learn, and grow!

Strength and Valor,
Jason Wilterdink

About the Author: Jason Wilterdink was an EMT in Wisconsin (EMT license 52283) for 5 years. Jason Wilterdink has worked with and handled a volunteer Search and Rescue K9. Jason Wilterdink has worked in full time Law Enforcement for over 12 years, he is a Criminal Justice instructor, SFST instructor, ethics instructor, and a tactical instructor. Jason Wilterdink has served a one-year United States Department of State contract as CIVPOL (CIVillian POLice) assigned to the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) – West Africa. Jason Wilterdink is the owner of America’s Modern Knights LLC.

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.