Friday, September 6, 2019


It is back to school time.  With that comes the thrill of having your social media feeds filled with your friend's mandatory back to school pictures.

It also means that your social media feed will be filled with "expert" advice on bullying

If you defend yourself from physical violence you are part of the problem?  You should just allow yourself to be a victim?


Seems to me that is what happened to this little fella.  Also I remember Obi Wan straight up cutting a guys arm off because he shoved his friend in a bar.  I'd imagine the reaction of child pictured above with an eye swollen shut has much less to do with the "Jedi Way" than being indoctrinated into a system that labels all violence as evil no matter how justified.  

The other arc of the bullying advice pendulum is depicted here.  Really  - only constant training in the Dojo will protect you?  The back fist a second grader practiced in Kata form for her bi-monthly belt testing is going to protect her from a sixth grader that is a foot taller and 75 lbs heavier than her?
Or maybe  - only constant training in the Dojo will protect you - is blatant fear based marketing to get that second grader's parents to buy a yearly membership to your Dojo

Granted, training at the Dojo can improve confidence.  It can also be a great place to make friends and develop social skills.  All of which have the potential to remove children from some bully's victim profile, or make it less likely for them to be bullied.  However, confidence can come from many places. One could argue that involvement in most any organized activity that the child enjoys will help develop confidence and social skills.  Constant training in the Dojo is far from the ONLY thing that will protect you from bullying.

Even if the Dojo training is very effective for dealing with interpersonal violence (you fuck with a wrestler or a judoka you are probably going to take some damage - clearly personal bias on my part but I'm just sayin') Is it coupled with: 
  • Escape?
  • Deescalation?
  • Articulation?

Is that constant training in the Dojo that will protect a child from bullies going to get that child kicked out of school?  Is an adult facing the same type of activity going to be fired if they respond with their Dojo training?

Are those consequences worth stopping the Bully's behavior?

What even is bullying?

Languaging / definitions are important.
I feel the most logical approach is to consider any consistent, targeted harassment or assault as bullying.  I fell we need to give children the tools to combat that behavior.

We must also be clear that not ever challenge you face is bullying.

Anthropologically group norms had to be enforced.  If your behavior veered too far outside the parameters of normal you became a threat to the survival of the group.  We don't survive that well on our own.  So the challenge of facing the consequences of acting outside of these norms forced growth.  You found your place in the group, you found a way to change the group, or you found a new group.  

If we sanitize life from all challenge it stunts growth, and leaves children incapable of handling anything we didn't remove from their path on their own.  No matter how well intentioned society will never be able to remove ALL of these uncomfortable challenges.

Click HERE to see Tammy Yard McCracken's live on this subject

If you are living outside of social norms, by choice, or by circumstance - gods bless you. you are on a more difficult path.  Realize that you will face challenges (these are natural and everyone no matter how "normal" must face them).  Nothing can be created with out the risk to fail.  Develop comfort in who you are as an armor against "haters".  Because as the saying goes haters gonna hate!

However, if this hate takes the form of consistent, targeted harassment or assault there may come a time when:

  • You can't escape (you have to go to school / you have to go work)
  • You can not talk your way out of it.  
  • The procedures put in place to help you do  nothing, or make the situation worse.

If you find yourself in those circumstances, do you have any training for a physical encounter?
Will a physical encounter get you in trouble? (most times always yes it will)?
Are those consequences worth stopping the Bully's behavior?
Are you willing to accept those consequences?

Train hard, train smart, be safe and when ever possible be kind.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


I haven't really talked or written much about this.  I worked through it in my own way.  Probably not the healthiest solution, but it was the way I had to do it.  About two years ago or so I was angry.  Angry all the time.  It was around this time I discovered what I began to call my emotional reservoir.  The amount of mental / emotional energy I had to deal with other people's problems.  As a Police Officer I have to deal with lots of other peoples problems which is a deep drain.  Then turning on the news and seeing American Law Enforcement portrayed as the enemy, as villains would take yet another bite.

When that reservoir is drained all that is left is angry.  Angry is kind of acidic, it burns a whole in the bottom of the reservoir and makes it difficult to refill.  I didn't want to waste my reservoir at work and bring home an asshole to my wife and kids.  The stress relief of the Dojo, and the sense of family and support from the Viotribe helped immensely, but the angry was still there.  So I tried to kill the beast.  Exercising the angry away (exorcising your demons) helped, but you can only push so hard until you hurt yourself.  Hurt = unable to exercise = guess what?...yup more angry.  "Self medicating" helps for brief periods.  But I don't want to be yet another cliched middle aged alcoholic cop.  I've seen in others where that path leads.   

The angry was taking a toll on my health.  I ballooned up from 220 to around 250-260 (not muscle)

Cortisol is a bitch

I couldn't kill the beast, so I tried a change.  I got away from dealing with other people's problems for the most part.  I became a School Resource Officer.  It worked, for nine months my job was basically to give out high fives to elementary school children and go to SWAT.  I was good at it.  I went from the first day, having a bunch of second graders running away from me on the play ground yelling its the cops he gonna kill us - to the last week of school having those same kids cry because they are going to miss me over the summer.  The reservoir stayed full, I was able to maintain a better version of myself

This picture was from January back down to 220

Then due to circumstances beyond my ability to control I was informed that I would no longer be a School Resource Officer.

I was afraid.  I feared the return of the angry, but it didn't happen.  I worked patrol for months, and I was having fun, I enjoyed the job.  Clearly some days are more difficult than others, but those difficult days just became funny stories you tell.

Late this summer I worked a set of shifts over a weekend with a person that I used to work with on a regular basis, but I hadn't worked with in a long time.

I like to start my shift with dry fire drills followed by coffee while I plot out my time management (what do I want to get done today as call load allows)

This person I hadn't worked with in a while spent the first 45 minutes of their shift pouring a nonstop flood of negative bullshit into my ear.

I get it, misery loves company.  Everybody hosts a bitch session at work from time to time.

This seemed different though.  This felt like he was taking pleasure from attempting to piss me off, going out of his way to anger me.

No one that loves you wants you to be weak
No one that loves you takes pleasure in creating unnecessary pain for you.

However, the angry didn't return.  Because finally I could see it.  I don't hate patrol, I don't hate the citizens, I hate working with this insufferable prick.

I won't blame my problems on others.  I will not grant others the authority over how I conduct myself, but now I could clearly see that my emotional reservoir was being depleted before I even had contact with the public.

McClure Sensei would often discuss how you should be happy if a Shihan ("master" / senior instructor) corrected you, pointed out something you were doing wrong.  Don't be upset that you did something wrong.  Be happy that the Shihan taught you.  If they did not think you were worth it, they would not waste their time acknowledging you, much less talking and training with you.  Now you know how to do something better, and you have something concrete you can work on.

I will not grant others the authority over how I conduct myself, but now I know how to do something better, I have something concrete I can work on.

I will continue to be polite and professional in my communication with this person.  However, there is no reason on God's green Earth I have to be in the same place as him when he starts pulling his negative bullshit.  I can hop in a squad car and go anywhere in the city that he is not.  The thought of that is actually pretty liberating.

This has been cathartic to write, but how can this help anyone reading this?

I never really understood the idea of a "Toxic Person" until now.  I have been fortunate to be surrounded by outstanding individuals

I like to think of my self as a reasonably intelligent person, how did it take me so long to recognize  this "Toxic Person" ?

Toxic People aren't always this easy to identify

Once recognized how does one take actions to mitigate their effects?

I'm fortunate, now that I can see it (affordances) it is relatively easy for me to avoid the circumstances that allow that person to be "toxic"

What if that person is:
Your Boss?
Your sibling?
Your Parent?
Your spouse?
Your child?

What do you do if you have become dependent on the "Toxic Person" for survival, financial or otherwise?

What if that person is dependent on you?

If I had easy answers for those questions I would be a far richer man, most likely with my own syndicated talk show.

So take with a extra large grain of salt.  I am no subject matter expert in this field.  I have only anecdotal evidence of me Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experimenting on myself.

All I can offer is that after years of unnecessary stress, finally being able to identify a contributing source, and take positive action steps to minimize / eliminate that source felt fantastic.

What those positive action steps are for anyone reading this are clearly very different and very specific to the individual circumstances.

Those steps may be terrifying.  They may require deep life changes.

No one that loves you wants you to be weak
No one that loves you takes pleasure in creating unnecessary pain for you.

Those positive action steps may be painful, but it is a necessary pain, some growth can only come from pain.

You may need to build your own resources  / abilities.
You may need to force someone else into circumstances which require them to provide for themselves.

That can be painful, but it is a temporary pain that has lasting positive benefits.

I don't don't have easy answers, I do have some hypocritical advice though.
You are not alone, there are people that can help you find solutions.  Be strong enough to enlist their help.  You don't have to do it alone.

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Train hard, train smart, be safe.

Monday, March 4, 2019

No Excuses

When I got back from Europe my first work out nearly killed me.  That is because I went a solid seven days with out training.

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I fell I perform better if I start the day with a workout.  There was a time when I would just do my regular work out before Viody.  Full body strength one day, running the next.  However, that was time consuming, required equipment, and did not lend itself to group activity.  So I got away from training before teaching, which kicked my ass when I got back home.  

I have had success working out at the USMAA National Training Camp, even when I travel with the family, up at the lake, in Arizona, or at the in-laws house.  I drive to all those locations which allows me to bring sand bags, suspension equipment and battle ropes - all sorts of fun stuff, but I can't fly with all that stuff.

I needed a workout I could do when I travel for Violence Dynamics.  That workout has to meet specific requirements:
  • No Equipment
  • Can be done at any facility that can host a Violence Dynamics seminar
  • Could be done in a hotel room or where ever we are staying if necessary
  • Must be able to workout everyday of the seminar (without over training)
  • Strength training must be done at a pace to have cardiovascular benefits as well
  • Most humans not on PED's should be physically capable of accomplishing the exercises
    • Ever see a Calisthenic Kingz video? 
  • Warm up - Work out - Stretch all together should take less than an hour
  • Should be easy for other people to play along if they choose to join
  • Should be fun

There is a huge difference between body weight strength training, and no equipment between body weight strength training.  

Pull Ups and Chin Ups are killer body weight exercises, but they require some sort of bar to pull on.  How does one work their arms, or back in an empty room?  There are some door frame exercises that seem OK,  but are you going to rest and let your heart rate drop while your partner, or a whole group take turns using the door frame?  That doesn't sound very productive or fun.  So I did some research, and give credit where credit is do.  I took a lot of material from Athlean - X and adapted it to my criteria.

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I developed two deck of cards workouts.  One focusing on pushing movements, the other focusing on pulling movements.  That way I can do them back to back without over training any muscle groups.  Deck of card workouts are done for time (as quickly as possible) so you have to hustle, thus adding cardiovascular benefits to strength training without relying on separate cardiovascular training like running.  

I am going to test this work out on Saturday March 9th.  I'll leave my notes in the comments.
I'd like to do this in DC.  I figure Wednesday day 0 push, Thursday day 1 pull, Friday day 2 push, Saturday day 3 pull, Sunday day 4 push, and maybe I can even things out with pull before I leave for the airport.  If not that is cool too because travel day can be rest day and when I get home I should be able to resume my regular work out program with out getting kicked in the balls.

I hate when an exercise program has weird names for exercises and just assumes everyone reading knows how to do the movements.  So I have included how to videos for every motion.

If you are attending a Viody I think it would be fun to do these as a group before class.  If you can't attend but like to play along there is no reason you can't do this at home while we are grinding it out at the seminar and share your results in Life Dynamics

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Our handsome spokes model demonstrates how to do these exercises here


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Give it a try, let me know what you think

Train hard, train smart, be safe.