Founder / Grandmaster Instructor
Before working in corrections I never really considered myself to be much of a fighter. I did not grow up in the mean streets of any city where I had to fight just to survive to go to school or get a meal. I was a simple country kid who grew up in a small town. Yes, I had to deal with my fair share of fights as a child and a teen growing up because there were always bullies to be dealt with and I even managed to successfully defeat a few of them. But by no means was I some warrior with a will of iron ready to face all dangers. However, life and circumstances have provided me with many opportunities to learn how to recognize and deal with many types of violence.
Now I get paid to go into situations, most often alone & outnumbered by sometimes over 60 to 1, by criminals, to maintain order and provide a measure of safety and security to those who need it. It is my job to prevent the predators from preying on each other or from assaulting my fellow officers. This is the job; a beat cop walking a patrol where the population does not appreciate my presence, will do almost anything to distract me, irritate me, insult me, and on occasions try to assault me. I carry only my wits and radio with me. I don’t have a sidearm, baton, TASER, and in most instances I’m not allowed to carry OC spray. Now I don’t fight every day [time on the job and my reputation have worked for me in many cases] the majority of my time is fairly easy. But occasionally, on those really ugly shifts, I more than earn my paycheck.
The fights happen less frequently for me, mainly because most of the criminals inside the jail have gotten to know me, and more importantly I have learned more than my share about how to communicate with people. I believe the job of corrections is all about customer service.
I teach people simple, practical, and effective skills to stay safe and alive as well as the equally simple and important skills that will allow them to deal with and restrain a threat with a greater reduction in the possiblity of being sued. I live to teach people the difference. I also go out and instruct those who are already trained in the martial arts or defensive tactics how to apply effective skills in real conflict. It is a passion that I have and it is one I love to speak about.
What follows are my bona fides, my résumé if you will, feel free to skip this and move on if you want:
I have a college education with Bachelor of Science Degrees in Criminal Justice and Computer Information Systems from study at Iowa State University and Bellevue University. I also have a Master of Arts Degree in Homeland Security with an emphasis on Terrorism Studies from American Military University as well as Masters level studies in theology from the Seminary of the Independent Lutheran Diocese. This education has provided me with the skills to gain an academic understanding of crime, violence, and the human condition. Most importantly it has given me an appreciation for the research methodologies that have allowed me to develop and test hypotheses, and then report the results of that research.
My experiences on the subject of violence are more extensive than what the average individual may experience in a lifetime and come from a magnum opus of a vocational path that has been rather atypical. These experiences include dealing with regular bullying behaviors in the community I grew up in, surviving several deployments to combat zones as a member of the United States military, serving behind the walls of a variety of correctional facilities, and a lifetime devoted to the study of traditional and modern forms of combat as a martial arts practitioner and instructor.
As a youth I grew up in the rural community of Valley, Nebraska with a population of approximately 1,700. As I mentioned earlier I did not have to fight constantly as a part of my daily life, but the life of a child in 1972 that was the first in the community diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder was no picnic either. I was subjected to verbal abuse starting at the age of 8, when classmates found that I was going to the office every afternoon to take medication. The ridicule and verbal abuse of adults was a problem as well, especially from those that considered ADHD a pseudo condition and all I simply needed was an attitude and focus adjustment to my backside. What this bullying (both from my peers and adults) taught me was how to recognize and effectively deal with the psychological issues involved with intimidation and personal identity. Lessons that have a direct effect on how I operated on the street and within the walls of the correctional center today.
As the result of the influence of my grandfather Paul and my father Richard I enlisted in the United States Navy in 1985 and served with distinction until I retired from the Navy Reserve Component in 2017. During my service I operated as a Navy Master-at-Arms and was involved in base patrols, physical security, harbor patrol, corrections and detainee operations, and anti-terrorism/force protection. I received training in lethal and less than lethal weapon systems including a variety of side-arms, rifles and shotguns, distraction devices (flash-bangs), a wide-assortment of less-than-lethal options (chemical munitions such as OC, CS, and CN; TASER, pepper ball; shotgun fired impact, chemical, and electrical stun devices, and sound based area deniability systems) I have received training on high-risk transportation and vehicular escorting as well as training in armed and unarmed defensive tactics and combatives.
The Navy sent me to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) to receive training to serve the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as a Armed Operational Representative. I was trained as an investigator, protective service specialist, and anti-terrorism surveillance operator. I developed skills relevant to interrogation, crisis negotiations & interventions, evidence gathering, and high stress communications. I am certified as a Homeland Security Specialist Level IV and Disaster Preparedness Specialist. I have also had the privilege of becoming certified as a Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist, Certified Protection Officer and a Physical Security Manager.
Over the course of thirty two years I experienced many acts of violence both as a member of the law enforcement community working patrols & investigations, and in a warzones while serving in the Middle East.
My civilian vocation changed from administrative to operational in 2002 when I went from working as a programmer/analyst and began working as a correctional officer with the State of Nebraska in one of its maximum security prisons. I later began working in county correctional facilities that were closer to my home as I continued in my career as a corrections professional. As a corrections officer I have also had training opportunities and experiences that have helped me deal with violence including Crisis Intervention, Field Training, and Defensive Tactics. In the course of my employment as a corrections officer I have been involved in numerous use of force incidents with subjects detained for both violent and non-violent crimes. These altercations included, but were not limited to: dealing with intoxicated individuals, people with mental alterations due to a variety of pharmaceutical enhancements (PCP, Meth, and many more) or biological/neurological disorders. Altercations where I was outnumbered and/or where weapons were involved.
In addition to the training that these careers have provided me I have been an avid student of the martial arts since the age of twelve. In the forty-plus years that I have been involved in the martial arts I have had a variety of opportunities to study around the world in a variety of traditional, and modern martial arts. Included among these are Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Judo, Pang Gai Noon-Ryu Karate-Do, Kendo & Iaido, Modern Arnis, Kombatan, Krav Maga, Systema, and thanks to some friends with some tribal influence I was able to experience some of the combat systems that were taught to the indigenous people of the Omaha Tribe. More recently I also have been able experience the techniques of Aikido from the Head of Aikido, Moriteru Ueshiba Grandson of the Found of Aikido—Morihei Ueshiba. I have studied, researched, and provided instruction about the variety of ways that these systems from around the world have looked at violence and attempted to systemize their responses to it.
In August 2017 I was promoted to the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt in Chon-tu Kwan Hapkido and was proud to become one of five Grandmasters blessed by the founder of the Combat Hapkido system to help spread it around the world.
At the end of the day this is simply a listing of things I have done. Here is the heart of the matter: Violence is an ENORMOUS topic, so much larger than myself.
There is more out there than I have ever seen, or experienced; certainly there is more violence than I could hope to even survive. I’ve seen many forms of violence, including combat in a warzone, I have been punched, kicked, choked, thrown, shot at, cut & stabbed. I have had explosive rounds go off in my vicinity, and avoided being blown up by IEDs. I have been insulted, screamed at, and have had bodily fluids thrown at me. I have used physical violence myself in protection of my life and those around me that I hold dear. I have been close to death myself and yes I have had to use lethal force. I inform you of this not because I am bragging, but I do want you to know I have been there, done that, got the t-shirt even.
But even with the experiences I have had, I have not experienced all that violence has to offer. I have never experienced sexual assault, domestic violence, or ever been held hostage, just to name a few. Despite the violence that I have seen and experienced it is far larger a subject than I, or anyone else for that matter, hope to understand fully on our own, which is why quality instructors seek out others that deal with violence to add those life experiences to their own.
I strive to teach and give as much of my personal experiences in my lessonsand where it seems logical I will quote or paraphrase others who have gone before me and experienced more. At the end of the day, my teachings are but the thoughts, experiences, and research of one man. My purpose in teaching is to impart my insights to you. Aspects of my teaching will be difficult since the concepts of survival are a matter of feelings, and in the moment gut reactions, the smells and sounds of the moment as well. Something that is very hard to describe but I do my best to make it available to all.
Utilize my teaching, if you can. Discard anything that doesn’t seem useful or simply doesn’t make sense. Don’t delegate the responsibility for your own safety. Don’t override your experience and common sense on the simple say-so of my being a so-called expert. Never ignore what your eyes see, because in the end violence is never what you imagined.