Saturday, August 31, 2019

15 years

15 years ago today I officially retired from the US Army. Left a job I had been doing since I was 19. Poof done! 

I was lost for a few years after. Did some jobs I didn’t like but I fed my family while finding my passion. Fast forward to today I am a totally different guy. In fact I almost forgot what day it was. I am now an EMS educator and EMS Service Director. I am a leader in several volunteer organizations. I serve on a city commission . I am a reserve law enforcement officer. I am a college graduate with a Masters degree. I am a martial artist and a published author. The list goes on. I was none of these prior to my retirement. 

I spent today teaching some new shooters how to use their handguns and teaching them what to buy. I played frisbee with my dog and watched some college football. My military service will always be a huge part of me but it doesn’t define me. I have made a new equally as successful life. The saga continues.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

International Metal

Everyone who knows me knows I love Metal!! Here are some of my international favorites

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Treason Day!!!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Toxic Heroism

Many  have heard the oft overused phrase "toxic masculinity". We could argue the merits of that phrase ad nauseum but that is not what this post is about. I want to talk about the culture of "toxic heroism" that has found its way into certain parts of the military, emergency medical services, law enforcement and fire services among others. First I want to start out by making it clear I am not disparaging the work done by these entities. I want to make that very clear. This is not a bashing of our public servants who often go in harms way for no other benefit than a meager paycheck or sense of accomplishment.

What I do want to talk about are those that make sure we know that is what they are doing. The humble braggers, the "thank me for my service" folks. I spent 22 years in the military in a unit many consider "elite". I thought of myself as such and treated others accordingly. While there was certainly justifiable pride in my accomplishments as I matured and particularly after I retired, I realized that I was but a small cog in the great machine and truthfully my contribution was no better than anyone else's. This became painfully clear as my career came to an end and I felt myself being brushed aside as the operational pace kept moving forward without me.

I have spent the last 13 or so years involved in public safety both as a EMT/Paramedic, private Security Manager and a reserve Law Enforcement Officer. In those capacities I occasionally come in contact with the " We do everything a Doctor does but at 80 MPH" crowd or the " You will respect my authoritah!" folks. So what do all these groups have in common?

First there is a large dose of the Dunning Kruger effect at play here. In a nutshell Dunning Kruger is a cognitive bias where people mistakenly assess their abilities as greater than they actually are. Unfortunately those that seek the most attention normally deserve it the least. Secondly due to this cognitive bias these individuals look down on or discount the contributions of others as part of the whole team concept or chain of events. Thirdly and most importantly the news media and present culture have co opted the word hero and applied it inappropriately so often, its very meaning has changed. Webster's defines Hero as  "a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities" By applying the word hero to every service member who completes an enlistment or every EMS provider who transports a sick/injured person to the hospital the word has been cheapened. And this very cheapening has encouraged further abuse of the term.

Is every individual who finished basic training and spent the rest of their enlistment training stateside a hero? Is every volunteer firefighter a hero just because he responds? I would suggest that these folks are just doing their job and doing your job does not make you a hero. And by suggesting they are it simultaneously cheapens the word and fosters an aggressive culture of "look at me."

We need to do better

Armed Home Defense Tactics 6.13.19

Attended my annual Personal Defense Network your class at Rob Pincus came through Iowa. This year was all about home defense. Some old information and some new information. Thoroughly enjoyable class. I have some things to work on.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Gracie Survival Tactics Instructor Development Course Level 1 5.20-23.19

In May I attended at law Enforcement only Gracie Jiu-Jitsu survival tactics instructor certification course. Although the instructor certification was a plus I really wanted to attend to broaden my knowledge of jiu-jitsu in the context of my work as a reserve law enforcement officer and paramedic. I met that goal. It was an extremely intense course run by Evandro Nunes and Howard Steele. Both of these instructors were top notch. Over 90 law enforcement personnel attended this 4 day training. Training consisted of multiple techniques and survival strategies for law enforcement. The course overview can be found here:

The last day consisted of teach backs and learning the method to teach these techniques to fellow members of your department. I have been training Jiu Jitsu for almost 3 years and most of the techniques were not unfamiliar. But to see them taught with a different nuance and also learning the "why" behind each technique was very enlightening. Great course which hopefully I can use to spread this knowledge to my co workers.

BlackBeard Challenge 5.18.19

This was my third year of participating in the BlackBeard Challenge. I felt significantly stronger and faster this year due to the ruck/sandbag workout program I have been following. The BlackBeard Challenge is a ruck/bodyweight WOD style workout that honors SSG Matthew A Pucino. A Green Beret killed in action in 2009. There are 4 levels. Beginner, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. All have different weights, distances and reps. I did level 2 this year which consisted of:

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Hawkeye 50K/25K 4.13.19

Sorry for the lack of posted material. I started two new jobs simultaneously in March and I have been overtaken by events. I will post some catch up now and some more original material in the next few days. Back in April, I participated for the 8th time in the Hawkeye 50K/25K. This was my inaugural ultra marathon back in 2010. I have ran the 50K 6 times and rucked the 25K twice to include this year. 30 lbs plus water. I bested my ruck PR by almost 50 minutes. It was a fun day.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

How the "Gun Culture" Broadened my Horizons

My very first job on my very first Special Forces A Team was as the junior "Weapons Guy". My military occupational specialty even spelled it out, 18B3VW8RU Special Operations Weapons Sergeant Ranger Qualified Freefall Parachutist Russian Language. I was the commander's advisor on tactics and weapons. I was an NRA member, I was a gun guy. But my horizon's were narrow. I knew everything about guns but I didn't know what I didn't know. I progressed up the ranks and my knowledge served me well.  In 2004 I retired from Special Forces as a Master Sergeant and Team Sergeant of a Military Freefall team that I had deployed to combat with. Successful but still narrow scope.

So there I was in civilianland with no context. My knowledge really didn't mean anything to these people. I knew how to set the headspace and timing on a M2 .50 cal machinegun or zero a 106mm recoilless rifle but there wasn't a lot of call for that. Even though I had been formally and informally teaching for decades I had no credibility, I had no sheepskin. So I decided to take some handgun and rifle courses.  Two things happened. I discovered a shooting program that made complete sense to me and really should be the basic foundation for any firearms training. That program was then known as Combat Focus Shooting and is now known as Intuitive Defensive Shooting. IDS is based on the counterambush methodology and is backed by evidence and empirical data. The other thing that happened is I was pretty sure I could teach this stuff.

So I attended the prerequisite courses as an end user and then worked my way through the Defensive Firearms Coach and Intuitive Defensive Shooting Instructor development courses. Along the way, I picked up the National Rifle Association and the United States Concealed Carry Association Instructor credentials. Cool right? No, not cool because I realized that firearms were not the end all be all after taking these courses. They apply to a very narrow set of circumstances in regards to personal defense.

So the journey continued I became a Stop the Bleed Instructor, Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support, and Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Instructor. Because I realized if you carry a gun for self-defense you better know how to take care of a wounded person. Could be you, could be a loved one.

Then it hit me, what if I didn't have a gun or what if the person was so close I couldn't use a gun?  I became an Active Shooter Response instructor through several organizations because you need a plan for those situations. I started taking edged weapons classes which got me into my original weapons based grappling class. I took Krav Maga for a few years and for the last 3 years I have taken Brazilain Jiu Jitsu. I also continued my exploration of weapons based grappling through the Shivworks collective.  Shivworks got me interested in Managing Unknown Contacts and the psychology behind criminal activity.

My study of martial arts had turned me on to the Stoic philosophy among others. I started to try and practice stoicism in my daily life. Stoicism and the knowledge I learned from MUC and Martial Arts has made me a humbler and more forgiving person. I read more. I think more, I study more.

I will continue to expand my horizons in an effort to live a life worth living. Gun culture did that for me. I am still a gun guy.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Powerlist 2019

2019 Powerlist

Improve NoGi skills by attending at least 2 No gi per month

1 BJJ session per week minimum 

Read 20 books 

Workout 3 x per week

Run/Hike 3 x per week

Maintain weight 180-185

Improve Cardiology Skills by studying 1 hr per week

Improve shooting skills by at least 1 hr of range time (planned out on purpose)


1-2 Ultra Marathon

GORUCK Challenge

Attend 1-2 training events outside your own stuff

Move 500 miles 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Xmas Guntalk

By the Numbers

Image result for 2018

Annual by the numbers recap ( Since 2013 anyway)

Running, Hiking, Martial Arts

Participated in a Charity Challenge this year and got a dog so that helped me almost double my miles from the previous year.

421.55 miles ran and rucked

Continued to attend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Currently on a 72 week attendance streak

97 days attended

Approximately 190 hrs of training

Average 1.73 days training per week

Races and Competitions

2 BJJ Competitions

3 trail races 25K ,10 Mile and 4 mile

I plan on doing more competitions in 2019 and ramp up the races as well

Classes attended

2018 was another great training year for me personally

Classes attended- 9

Shivworks Craig Douglas Edged Weapons Overview x 2

Resilience Development Precision Rifle

Government Training Institute Rescue Task Force-Hostile Event Interdiction Course

NAEMT Advanced Medical Life Support

Shivworks Chris Fry Practical Pistol 1

Shivworks Chris Fry Practical Shotgun 1

Dark Angel Medical Direct Action Response

EMSLRC Critical Care Paramedic Refresher

Axon Taser X2 Certification Course

Classes Taught and Seminars or Talks Given

2018 also a great year for me teaching

Tactical Medicine Seminar taught- 2

Immediate Casualty Care 1 taught- 10

Immediate Casualty Care 2 taught-1

Active Shooter Response Course taught -3

Active Shooter Response 1 hour Seminars -24

EMS Conferences spoken at - 4

Paramedic Courses Co-taught -2

Emergency Medical Technician Courses Co-taught -1

Emergency Medical Responder Courses Co-taught -1

CPR/First Aid/AED classes taught - 4

Concealed Carry Classes taught - 2

Defensive Firearms Coaches Certification Courses Co-taught -1

Fundamentals of Home Defense Courses taught -1

Fundamentals of Concealed Carry/ Introduction to Defensive Pistol Courses taught - 3

Intuitive Defensive Shooting Courses taught- 4

Intuitive Defensive Carbine Courses taught -2

Gunshow/Industry events attended or volunteered at -3

Writing,Podcasts, and Instructional videos

Posts on Personal Blog - 40

Posts on Professional Blog - 48

Articles Published -1 ( Named one of the Top 3 Articles of the Year however)

Instructional Videos published - 2

Podcast episodes broadcasted - 9

EMS and PD

190 hours worked as a Reserve Police Officer

300 calls ran as a Paramedic

Still doing what I do

Random Numbers

Daughters that got married -1

Years since Army enlistment- 36

Years since Army Retirement -14

Years since Ranger School Graduation -30 ( wow I still remember the suck everyday)

Years since Special Forces Qualification Course Graduation - 28 ( SF in large part made me who I am.)

Years Married- 31

12 Pictures 12 Months

As this blog heads into its 9th year I though I would close out with a visual of 2018













Friday, December 14, 2018

Blue Belt

 A few days ago I was promoted to the rank of blue belt in Brazilian  Jiu Jitsu. BJJ is a martial art that has become extremely popular since the advent of mixed martial arts fighting and the UFC. BJJ concentrates on grappling, ground fighting and submissions/chokes to subdue your opponent. The BJJ lineage starts with Japanese Jiu Jitsu through Judo to BJJ. In UFC 1 Royce Gracie showed the world the effectiveness of BJJ against other fighting styles and now BJJ is one of the dominant disciplines in the sport. No serious MMA fighter gets very far without a basic knowledge of BJJ or grappling.

BJJ is an extremely complicated and complex martial art. It is not uncommon for individuals to take 10-15 years of consistent training to achieve black belt status. No juvenile is eligible for black belt status . Blue Belt is the first rank that signifies you are no longer a beginner. Stripes of tape are used by some academies to denote intermediate proficiency within each belt. 

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I am affiliated with the Ribiero Bros BJJ Association. Saulo and Xande Ribiero are multiple time world champions and are known for an aggressive and dominating style of BJJ focusing on pressure. 
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The academy I train at is Iowa City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Professor Jason Clarke. Jason is an extremely dedicated and knowledgeable instructor. I appreciate the fact that he concentrates his instruction on self defense applications and has taught/hosted multiple seminars integrating weapons based grappling techniques. Check out his website, Instagrams and Facebook feeds.

My journey in BJJ started 2.5 years ago. I never considered myself a martial artist prior to my retirement form the military. I had wrestled in high school and been a wrestling official. Wrestling was and is my favorite sport. I also had participated in the hodgepodge of hand to hand combat and defensive tactics training during my military and law enforcement endeavors. However no formal sustained training. But prior to starting BJJ I had been taking Commando Krav Maga for a little over a year and had made some progress. However I attended a weapons based grappling seminar and found the techniques difficult to apply under actual pressure. The instructor mentioned that if we were serious about self defense we should take Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) or BJJ for a year to get the basics. Since Muay Thai was not readily available in my area I settled on BJJ. ICBJJ was recommended to me by some mutual friends.

ICBJJ is a fantastic place to learn. The people are welcoming and great training partners. Jason and his instructors will guide and mentor you in the art of BJJ. Pushing you while making it a safe, and an environment conducive to learning. Initially I was not committed as I should have been to the process. I would find any excuse not to go to practice because lets face it BJJ is hard. However eventually I committed to attending training at least once a week, no excuses. Since that time I have completed, to date, over 70 weeks of uninterrupted training.

One thing that separates BJJ in my mind from other martial arts is that there is hard contact live sparring occurring on a regular basis. You find out very quickly if you are doing something correctly one someone is trying to keep you from doing it. One of my challenges as an older guy is managing injury while I continue to train. Sometimes it is quite the challenge. On a regular basis I experience soreness and fatigue. I am easily 20 years older than the majority of students at the academy ( I may be the oldest student, not sure on that). I have also experienced a broken finger and some severe toe injuries during the course of training. However lots of tape and being selective with how hard I spar when injured has helped me to continue to train as I heal.

2-3 years is the average time needed to qualify for blue belt in the Ribiero system. My 2.5 years puts me solidly in the middle of that demographic. Professor Clarke has a simple standard for his blue belts. " My blue belts should be able to survive for 5 minutes with any untrained person in the world." I like that he is not saying you will win, he is not saying if the other person has any training you will even survive 5 minutes. There are no guarantees. What he is saying, however is that if in a fight, with the majority of human beings you will have the skills to survive at least 5 minutes. This gives you options, and options are always good when your life is at risk.

As a blue belt candidate I had to pass a test consisting of demonstrating over 50 individual BJJ techniques followed by a pressure test with a committed attacker punching me a grounded weaponless fighter. Worse case scenario. The test was difficult,as it should be, Since I was the last one in our group of candidates to take the test I was solo and got all the attention. This was good and bad. Lots of test anxiety but I also got some individual  correction and instruction as well. The test did not go 100% flawless. I had some issues. Jason corrected those issues and had me re-perform the technique correctly if I would stumble. The test also turned into a great learning experience as I picked up some small details throughout that will make me more dangerous.

I mentioned after the test that knowing my resume and history that some may find it odd I consider this one of my life's significant achievements.  The hard work and dedication I put in, the grind and the hard sparring sessions. Making it to class 2-3 times per week around a insane work schedule. Physically competing against much younger opponents on a regular basis. Finally becoming more immersed in The Way. The Way in my mind being a lifetime habit of fitness,knowledge,learning, character development and  humbleness. All these things make me proud of this accomplishment.

It is said that more people quit BJJ after achieving blue belt status than possibly any other belt. The "Blue Belt Blues" is a common phrase thrown around. Many hypothesize that people quit at Blue Belt because they believe they have made it or that once reaching this initial goal they are not sure what is next. Since my goal in BJJ is to strengthen my ability to defend myself my goal continues. I am not sure how long I will be actively practicing BJJ. Age is a factor no matter what people say. On average to get to the next level of Purple belt I need to spend 4-5 years more on the mats. This will put me at close to 60 years old. Will I physically be able to handle the rigors of training? I think so, there are BJJ practitioners into their 80's. I will just keep going to practice and try to get 1% better everyday.