The Open Seminars are important to make sure that we all talk the same language and agree on what the subject is, that all of us understand when I am talking violence and not martial arts.  If you’re already there or want a shorter class, Workshops deal with specific issues: counter ambush techniques; Why I Don’t Pretend to Teach Knife Defense; Force Law; Violence Dynamics; Infighting; close-range power generation; introduction to ground movement and fighting; locking; take-downs; close-range strikes; leverage and leverage points; tactical pain...


Sometimes lovingly referred to as

Ambushes and Thugs

Is the introductory seminar for Martial Artists who want to learn about violence.  It runs eight hours (modifiable) and covers at least:

  1. The Seven Aspects of Self-Defense

  2. Force Law

  3. Efficient Movement

  4. Fighting to the Goal

  5. Counter Ambush

  6. Violence Dynamics

No seminar is exactly the same.  Under efficient movements, some groups will need work on Power Generation, Infighting, Groundfighting, or basic building blocks, like strikes, locks or take-downs.  Many groups get to blindfolded infighting; a few get an introduction to environmental fighting.  Much depends on how safely and quickly the students pick up the concepts.

A&B is usually presented as a class for Martial Artists, but it requires no experience with martial arts or fighting and has proven useful for Law Enforcement professionals, citizens interested in Self-Defense and even writers.


Beyond A&B, things are based on the needs of the students.  De-Escalation, Violence Prevention and Violence Dynamics are appropriate for people who want to be safer without going hands on.  We can spend many hours on infighting, environmental fighting, working with weapons and working as a team... the possibilities are nearly endless.

This is an advanced class.  It isn’t about escaping from a wrist grab or what to do when menaced with a knife.  From the very ground up, we are going to use the tools of disaster planning to create and evaluate self-defense systems.

Does it require advanced martial knowledge? No.  But it will require attention and creativity.  If you are still collecting techniques or stuck in the belief that self-defense is primarily a physical skill, this class isn’t for you.  If you already feel that you know everything and the answers you have been given by some higher authority are unimpeachable, this class isn’t for you.  If the deep purpose of your instructor or system is to make sure you always have an answer and never have to think for yourself, stay home.

If you want to explore and experiment with the subject of violence; if you want to engineer your own high-end self-defense plans; if you want or need skills in understanding violence, predicting violence and articulating your decisions; if you are a creative professional who wants your characters and worlds to ring true... then this class just might be for you.

It’s all right here.  A former thug, a former Corrections Officer.  Almost sixty years of combined experience with bad people and situations...and both with the tendency to sit back after a situation and wonder why something worked or why it didn’t.  Then the curiosity (and confidence in CQ) to try out new things.  Yeah, coming up with something special was inevitable.

Once upon a time, Marc “Animal” MacYoung was teaching de-escalation for police officers in Germany.  When he got home, he called me, “I just realized that about half of what I was teaching was coming out of Meditations on Violence.  Interested in putting together a communications course for officers?”

I’d just finished the first draft of “7” (which was released in May 2011 under the title “Facing Violence”.)  The section on Violence Dynamics presents a way to look at conflict that is orders of magnitude better than in Meditations.  Yeah.  “I’m in.”

So we got to work...and it is something special.  Maybe universal.  We were originally thinking about cops-- why situations go bad, when is it predictable, when the officer can change things...

We found a lot more.  Have the same argument with your wife or husband every two weeks like clockwork?  We found out why, and it may not even be bad.  Are you a good operator who gets called into the lieutenant’s office more than the worthless or lazy?  The dynamic has nothing to do with making others look bad or professional jealousy.  Try to help administrators when they ask for help and get chewed out, ignored or punished?  That’s what happens when you cross cultural boundaries and don’t realize it.

Not only is this program looking pretty cool (as in it took me  over fifteen years to learn this by trial and error and we can teach the basics in a day) but it is looking universal as well.

Conflict Communications-- it’s not just for cops.

The Thug Whisperer logo still tickles me...and if you aren’t laughing occasionally, you’re doing things wrong.


I’ve been through a lot of de-escalation training.  Most of it was very good most of the time, and then would have occasional catastrophic failures.  In some cases, it worked for certain officers and failed utterly for others.

Marc and I have both played at high-stakes, where the choice was between talking people down and taking them down.  Completely aside from the paperwork, fighting gets people hurt.  Sometimes me.  If it needs to go there, I’ll go fast and hard.  But if it doesn’t...

  1. We know that not everything can be talked down

  2. We know that not all conflict comes from the same motivation

  3. We know that the tactics a clinical psychologist uses in his office will not apply to an EDP in crisis in the street-- and we know why and what tactics might work

  4. We know that it is unreasonable to believe that there is always a reasonable solution

  5. We know that if someone’s definition of a ‘win’ includes seeing you bleeding and humiliated, there is no win-win

  6. We know the differences between an indignant citizen, a panicked mental, a professional criminal, a hustler and a predator who enjoys creating victims

  7. We don’t pretend that the same tactics will work on all those groups

  8. We know that even if you can’t always control the threat there is one factor you can control: yourself

“If talking is going to get you killed, it’s time to stop talking.”- RM

Conflict Communications is flexible.  It gives you a paradigm to see what you are facing, tools to de-escalate, enough understanding to improvise on the fly AND better options for articulating what happened and why.

It is not a collection of tricks.  It is a way to see and evaluate.

For more information or to book a workshop, contact me at:

Further Information:

Conflict Communications Website

Facebook Page


An intensive three day course for up to twelve people.

If you are a martial artist, you will learn things about violence and assault that will change the way you train.

If you are a Law Enforcement Professional, you will get the inside scoop on the power dynamics and what goes on in the head of the most violent criminals.

If you are a writer or an actor, you can learn about the dark side from the inside.

If you are just curious... if you need to know...

Taught as a mixture of lecture, conversation, practical exercises, skill and attribute building, on-scene observation and scenarios.

The team of five instructors includes people who needed to be taken down, people who were paid to take them down... and one safety expert.  For obvious reasons.


Yours truly with the late Tim Bown (Best of the Bulletmen)

and Clint


Conducted as a two day course, we cover everything listed as well as dynamic fighting and environmental fighting.


Available as a follow-up to the Two Day Ambushes and Thugs, each participant gets a personalized scenario.  Students will have to use skills in tandem with judgement and, when all is over, explain themselves to a jury of peers.  Nightmare scenarios, decision making under stress, self-defense law, articulation and de-escalation skills will be tested and each scenario is debriefed.  Kind of fun.

NOTE: I can only effectively conduct scenarios in English.  No matter how fluent the students are in English, it sucks if the bad guys sounds like a tourist.