03 November 2018

Active Shooters- boxes, in transit, and open spaces

Another active shooter, this time two dead and several wounded.  When are we going to stop worrying about active shooters in schools, places of worship, and businesses, and as a country prepare to survive the three basic environments for ANY attack or emergency.  No mater what happens to you there are only three places you can be; in a box, in transit, or in an open space.  That's it.  Training must be principle based to deal with these realities.  Take the complex and make it simple.




01 November 2018

29 October 2018

Church Security Part 1

Long before the tragedy in Pittsburgh where John Bowers walked into a Synagoguge and murdered 11 and injured 6 innocent people only because of their faith, there have been many other acts of violence at places of worship.  That is why our Pastor just shakes his head when people ask why we have security at our church.

It has been well over a year since I posted here on my blog.  The primary reason is that I really just could not take anymore of tactical LARPERS ( Live Action Role Play).  Those who don't seem to realize you are way more likely to save a life with a first aid skill set than a shooting skill set.  Of course you should have both.  Those who have followed me at all over the past two decades know that I also don't agree with the fixation of rifle classes and shooting pistols at stationary cardboard targets.   But I digress.  I realized my true gift was training people to respond to stressful situations using the body's natural responses to attain repeatable outcomes in variable situations.  After figuring out that many people are very stressed out by the behavior of their dogs, I started MCS Dog Training and it took off like wild fire making me the most sought after dog trainer in York County PA.    God blessed me with my gift and I feel that I need to get back into the personal protection and preparedness side of things.  So, here I am.

It has always been a dream of mine that our great country will adopt the mindset of Israel, that everyone is responsible for security at all times.  It should not be left up to law enforcement and the military.  I believe a revival is coming in many areas and one of them is in the area of personal protection and preparedness.  This revival should come largely through the church.  The first layer of protection is that you are responsible for taking care of yourself and your family in any and all situations.  Your level of willingness to accept that has nothing to do with what you may face from a traumatic medical emergency in your home to a sociopath trying to kill your family as they worship.  So now onto the main point of this post.  Starting or revamping the security team at your church.

My leave of absence as a tactical talking head also coincided with my increased involvement in the Freedom Biker Church in York PA.  I had only attended the church for a short while before Pastor Jim Quoss asked me if I would be interested in heading up the security team.  I was quick and eager to accept, but I have to admit at the time I had no idea exactly what all would end up being involved.  It is a very "people" job and I am by nature very introverted, however none of my various jobs in life ever let me be alone for long.

There is a need to make two points from the above paragraph.  The first is that if you need to talk your Pastor or other church leaders into having a security team there will be problems ahead.  Fortunately, I never had to do that since my Pastor came to me and there was an informal group when I took the job.  Just like he does with others that minister in other areas of the church, my Pastor allows me to work with autonomy because he trusts me.  He is constantly advised or "given a heads up" about goings on but usually just replies with a nod.

The second one is that the Pastor will get complaints about security.  This is because, as I will get into later, doing security at a church is not unlike being a bouncer or a doorman.  People do not like to be told "NO" or held accountable for anything they, or their children, do.  People are people and our natural reaction is to take any correction as a personal attack.  They of course will not say anything to the person who enforced the rule or spoiled the fun, they will go to the Pastor.

So whether you are a Pastor, church elder, security team member, or just a member of the church reading this and are interested in church security, I feel obligated to tell you about the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.  Someone, and it should not be the Pastor, Lord knows he has enough on his plate, will have to run the team.  People's mind will usually go to someone who is or is retired from law enforcement,  the military, or security.  My background includes all three, including bouncing which of course falls under security.  Below are some things I would look for in a leader and subsequently he should look for in prospective team members.

Interpersonal Communication Skills-   Church security is a strange animal in many ways.  One of them is the extreme age of folks you will have to deal with.  You cannot talk to an 8 and 80 year old the same way.  In police work, the idea of return customers is a reality but not one you promote.  At a church, it is all about making people feel comfortable by building relationships so that the folks you interact with know your heart.  Also why I am not a fan of any sort of outside contracting for church security.  People will expect the security staff to deal with some very uncomfortable and very personal situations where discretion is key.  We are blessed that a very small part of what we do will likely include the need for violence, and most violence will not be in the form of an active shooter from someone unknown to the church but rather a known person who becomes volatile over perceived disrespect.  If your staff is is not capable of keeping their bearing when asking someone not to stand in a doorway, they will not be able to keep it when telling someone to "step back" or for that matter saying it at all.  You need people that are willing and capable to confront someone without turning it into a confrontation.

Willingness to do violence-  Now that even President Trump has said it in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, it is easier for everyone to say.  The problem is that for most of the world, including the tactikewl community, this means firearms.  Of course this is a component of all layered security/defense plans it is not the foundation.  Of the men on my team, there is only one on my team that I did not hand pick, and I would have anyway.  I look for guys that are calm, decisive,  and have been exposed to violence.  More or less have some experience with being punched in the face and punching someone in the face.  Sadly, just as with recruitment for law enforcement in America today, these guys are getting harder and harder to come by.  Luckily when you go to a biker church, we are not in such short supply.  I need guys that are not strangers to the adrenaline dump that comes from a face to face confrontation.  I need guys who are able to flip the mental switch from finding someone a seat to putting their hands on someone and hurting them if need be.  This is not as clean cut as the idea of shooting a man with a gun that is shooting other people.  But like I said earlier, that is seldom the situation.  As with the Interpersonal Communication Skills,  a person who does not have the heart to tackle an attacker to the ground should not be expected to engage an active shooter at close quarters.

Of course if I am going to put out some things to look for in a leader and or team member, I would be remiss if I did not include some things that I would avoid in choosing them.  Remember, at my church when it comes to this stuff I make the rules.  These may not be issues to you.

The gun guy-  The guy that is so fixated on guns that he sees them as the sole tool for protecting himself and others.  Also included here is the guy that open carries.  We are a very pro 2nd Amendment church, and being in Pennsylvania many open carry even in church.  I am not going to argue with anyone over it, but open carry to me shows a lack of tactical mindset.

Those who ask-  Again, I am blessed to have the autonomy to choose my team.  When I choose someone I may literally have to trust my life, my family, and my church family lives to them.  In all cases, I have a preexisting relationship with them and have hung out with them in various circumstances.  Words mean little, actions mean everything.


That's about it for now.  If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.

The above views and comments are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Freedom Biker Church York.

06 July 2017

Bullshit & Fairy Dust- Rising to the occasion

After my last post about where I have been, several people have contacted me because they thought I was going to stop doing classes.  That is absolutely not the case.  However, I will be doing things a bit differently.  For the most part you will not see me doing "public" courses in where you will be registering with me.  From now on if an individual, group, or agency wants me to do a class they will book it and and collect the money and I will show up to teach.

You will also be seeing more of my Bullshit & Fairy Dust posts identified by the graphic to the left making them easier to find.  There are no shortage of topics so there will be many.  For today's installment we will talk about the myth of rising to the occasion.


A while ago I watched a video in which a dog trainer was discussing how people buy dog breeds known for protection and think they will automatically attack an intruder.  He had a client who had pure bred German Shepherds from Germany.  The dogs were very expensive and came from blood lines known for Shutzhound and police work.  He assumed that the breeding would be enough for them to protect him and his property. No.

He put on a full bite suit and entered the gate of the neatly manicured mansion lawn and the owner released the dogs.  As he continued to walk towards them, they barked a bit before retreating to the back door looking for the their owner to let them in.  Him not opening the door resulted in lots of lip licking and them making themselves as small as  possible as the trainer walked towards them.

In contrast, he went to the home of a client with a plain Jane German Shepherd that he had trained for a few months.  As soon as he reached over the fence to open the gate, the Shepherd came around the corner and got a full mouth bite on the trainer.

Of course dogs are naturally equipped to defend or attack with their teeth.  As humans we learn to use our personal weapons or carry mechanical weapons.  In people and dogs, long before the fight / flight response, is the natural instinct to avoid stupid places, things, and people.  Humans however choose to ignore that instinct or choose to go anyway.

The absolute best survival strategy is to avoid anyone showing unstable behavior, and this includes aggression.  Even totally tacked out tough guys would agree that this is the response they would like to see from their loved ones.

Whenever you discuss a use of force situation, many are quick to tell you what they would do.  Avoid these idiots, because the truth of the matter is unless you are seeing, tasting, and breathing the situation in real time you don't know.  People are quick to spin a yarn around their response and tactical prowess because they will never be in the exact situations because not even force on force training includes all the variables.  So if your training is limited to the square range and dojo, you will have even less than a clue.

See, that is why I love training people and their dogs so much.  You can learn a lot about a person by observing their response when walking their dog on a leash and it attacks or is attacked by another dog.  There is no faking it.  Before long, they get really good at avoiding their dog's triggers and spotting other unstable dogs and people.  

Making avoidance your go to reaction makes it a lot easier to know when it is not a possibility and you need to fight.

30 June 2017

Where have I been? Putting first things first

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has supported MCS over the years by following me on the forums, buying stuff, and attending classes.


Me, right around the time of the shooting
On 02FEB00 I was working patrol after almost losing my wife Lisa, and my son Frank during childbirth in September.  In November he had actually died and they brought him back with Atropine and Adrenoline before putting him on the ECMO machine for 6 days before his first heart surgery.

That night I had a fatal police involved shooting with five other officers from two departments.  A few months later I was transferred to Special Operations and was at the top of my professional game.  That fall I was diagnosed with PTSD.

A few months passed and my partner, who is now the deputy chief, was promoted to corporal and not long after I was sent back to patrol due to manpower issues.

Long story longer, from after the shooting until 2007, I seldom left my bedroom unless it was to go to work or the dojo.  In April that year, I left the department and would eventually retire due to PTSD.


Elizabeth and Mom June 2014
In June of that same year, my Mother who was my best friend in the world wrecked her motorcycle and suffered many injuries including a traumatic brain injury and paralysis below the chest down.  Dad kept her home but in June 2015 she was hospitalized due to breathing issues and passed away due to complications.


My Sailor 17MAR17
Last year after two years of nursing school, my daughter Elizabeth found it to be too expensive so she enlisted in the Navy.  It was about that time where I realized how much my PTSD and depression had caused me to miss out on with my family and life in general.  I decided I needed to make some changes to make the most out of my second half.


My partner Odin
Through the American Legion I became aware of Veteran Service Canines located in York PA.  They provide free service dogs and free training to all Veterans and First Responders.  Elizabeth knew her leaving would have a devastating effect on me so she got me my Olde English Bulldogge pup Odin.

She bought him the day after he was born.  From then until we could pick him up we visited and I  fixated on finding everything I could on dog behavior and training.  We began training with Veteran Service Canines two days after we got him.  Since then he goes absolutely everywhere with me.  He has changed my life.

Around the same time I had an opportunity to open MCS York in
June 2017
Fitness 1440 York PA.  This also led me to get back into the gym seriously for the first time since high school.  Older, injured, but smarter.


With Odin and lifting, my outlook on life started to change drastically.  The next step was to rededicate my life to the Lord.

We had been attending a local church for several years, but really just did not fit in.  I wanted to be out among the people and share what God had done in my life.  Soon after we began to attend the Freedom Biker Church in York PA, I knew I had found a home. Before long I was asked to join the core team and be in charge of security.  I run the detail during our services and on rides I am always the tail gunner to watch over the flock and deal with emergencies.  I also accompany the Pastors as we visit very interesting places to minister to the unchurched biker community.


Me with Pastor Jim & Pastor Arron heading out on the highway searching for lost souls.

Through Veteran Service Canines I met the director of training, Bob Fink a Vietnam Veteran and retired LEO who has become my dog training mentor and is like a second father to me.  Early on he saw how good Odin and I were doing as a team and asked me to apprentice under him as a trainer.  I of course accepted.  Being a dog handler was the one thing I had always wanted to do in the PD but never got the chance.

The best way I can describe MCS York was that it was a flop.  Over the course of six months I found a handful of dedicated people who got it.  The vast majority of others were not interested in learning realistic skill sets, still others thought they were ready for a much higher lever of violence than Richard the Great and I thought they were.  This led to me calling it quits as far as having a fixed training site.  I had always thought that a fixed training site would not work for what I do.

Recognizing that most people have no idea how to train their dogs, and the fact that there are no other dog trainers around, I started along with Bob, MCS Dog Training.

Not only do I have the credentials to prove it, but I also consider myself a master instructor and can train anyone to do anything I can understand.  I am blessed with the ability to take the complex and make it simple.

Having taught approx 1200-1400 people over the last 10 years of life saving skills, I decided to apply that to dog training.  This along with my understanding of dog behavior has made MCS Dog Training a fast success.

Bragging about how well your dog behaves at home is like bragging about how well you do on the square range shooting cardboard.  The difference is that it can be hard to get paper punchers to subject themselves to reality based training.  All dog training is reality based.


 My pack
One of the most common things we deal with is on leash dog aggression.  Dogs and people have a lot in common.  They insistingly know that the best thing you can do is avoid unstable people, places, and things.  The difference is that dogs don't ignore or rationalize their feelings, they act on them.

Off leash a dog will avoid an unstable situation.  On leash he is connected to his human and his ability to avoid is beyond his control.  Under stress the instinct to avoid elevates to flight, again tethered to his human this is difficult.  Feeling that they are backed into a corner, they become aggressive to keep the unstable dog away.

The human anticipates this and their energy makes it worse.  They are not going to fight a dog so they go into the avoidance / flight response.  This is amazing to watch as the dog and human lose their composure.  This is what happens whether you are handling a dog or carrying a gun when you are not inoculated to reality.  You will fixate and not recognize your options.

I now have a peace of mind that I have never enjoyed before and want to share it with other humans and dogs.  You will not see me arguing over things on forums or Facebook anymore.  Anyone who has trained with me knows that I have a reason for the way I do everything and can evidence it.  I am getting back to writing and will be doing classes combative skills classes here and there for real people to prepare them for real scenarios.   The truth is that I can no longer spend time trying to make sense to keyboard commandos and tactical LARPERS.   Life is all about priorities and as for me it is the Lord, my family, Odin, and helping people and dogs.

If you are a fan of my approach to all things related to personal protection and preparedness, I apply many of the same principles to dog.  If you are into that like my new page.

MCS Dog Training




06 March 2017

Stick vs Knife

On a forum someone asked about a stick vs a knife-

 Here are my thoughts-

I am only going to talk about "stick". While training with Nick Hughes, I first became aware that all other things being equal, a man with a stick has a distinct advantage over a knife, if he realizes it. Most won't and will be overwhelmed by the sight of the blade.

 Edged weapons seek bone, and impact weapons seek flesh. Regardless of whatever offensive prowess one may believe they have achieved in a clinical training environment, once pushed back or back peddling the arms come out to the side for balance. This primal response will override your "knife fighting" skills and you will swing wildly attempting to stay on your feet and hit whatever part of your attacker you can. You will be flailing outside of your silhouette as well as your attacker's

From the outside in, there are anatomically more opportunities to strike bones such as the head, clavicle, elbow, wrist and fingers, knees, shins, and ankles. The same area slashed with a blade will have little immediate effect, that is what spawned Inverted Edge Tactics. During the folder into the fight drill, trained "knife fighters" once moving backwards during their defense did not stab as they said they had been trained to do. They slashed and the vast majority of cuts were across my chest and upper arms. These areas are covered with muscle by design. The body is well protected from the outside against laceration of vital targets. We don't use the stick against the muscles or hope to hit nerves. We hit the areas at the outside junctions where the bones are exposed. We use the blade on the inside. This requires you to get into the inside of your attacker fast.
Always a fan of the expandable baton for work, but I am not a cop anymore. Now it is a walking stick next to my car seat, and a tennis racket and ball on the passenger side floor board that I use to play with my dog. Can you imagine getting hit in the face with a tennis racket? How about the side of it across your face? Some rambling thoughts. Just my $.02.

05 March 2017

Thoughts on one and two fingered knuckles

Posted by a fellow formite-  I don't want to disparage anyone who is selling the one or two finger knuckle devices but I'm thinking it would hurt almost as bad to hit someone as it would be to be hit with one.  Wouldn't it break the users finger?  Has anyone ever used one?

You are correct sir.  You are about as likely to have the time and opportunity to use one of these things to jab someone in the face as you are to cut/or stab someone with the knife you carry.

Let's start with anatomy and physiology.  In MCS, we teach people to avoid striking with a closed fist unless it is a hammer fist.  MCS Instructor Richard the Great is not only a fan of boxing, but is also an instructor.  Even with instruction,  wraps, and gloves, fractures still occur.  When someone asks about punching with a closed fist, he just laughs after 12 years as a professional bouncer up and down the east coast.  A major principle of MCS is to do as little damage to your body while damaging your attacker's.  This is based on best practices, and one of them is not striking with a closed fist.  Did I say no striking with a closed fist?

In this article, I discuss how to wear a set of traditional knuckles correctly, and how to use them. There is a reason why they call them knuckle dusters.  Police and bad guys alike in the old days were able to experiment and measure how much force to use in striking a part of the body.  Dusting is done in a circular swinging motion, not a jab.  Jabs have too high a likelihood of permanently injuring or killing someone.  Whether cop or crook, a strain of permanently injured, maimed, or dead people at your hands can be hard on a career.  There is no ability to use dusting with one and two fingered knucks.  Yes, the small surface area will increase the concentration of force and increase trauma. Quite possibly much more trauma than was justified.  They will also cause a great deal of damage to your hand, causing immediate swelling, effectively taking that hand out of the fight.

 There are four parts to adding a tool to the arsenal; selection, carry, deployment, and use.  These things are selected because they are cool more than anything else, they are usually carried in a pocket, eeemmm, the how and when of deployment is the rub, as it is with ALL weapons.  Its only real use would be offensive.  You would have to be aware of a potential threat and decide to deploy it.  Here is where laws come into play.  Will you hesitate to even deploy it for self-defense for fear of being charged with possession/use of a prohibited weapon?  Use, if you do have it out, or manage to get it out and into use, you are severely limited in strikes and targets.  Most of the time it is going to have to be a jab into the head.

Regardless of what they may think from behind the comfort and safety of a keyboard, very few people would have the stones to hit someone with any sort of a knuck.  The primary reason is sort of what I teach to police officers.  There are many who will struggle with you so they can run away, then there are another very scary few who will kill you so they can walk away.  Using a knuck is a taboo, and so is using a knife.  You need to know if your mind can accept that after you use a weapon, your life and that of someone else's may likely never be the same.  This will be going on in your head during the altercation.  They are called intrusive thoughts and happen during tachypsychia (the distortion of time) that occurs under combat stress.

Through training I do my best to remove this hurdle for students by having a foundation of violent, effective open hand combatives.  You always have your natural weapons, tools are a luxury.  The world is filled with sunlight and we walk around with a flashlight in our pocket.  Few realize how fast it can get dark and train to deploy that flashlight fast and in a hurry.  Automatically going for a tool can be problematic.  First, it takes your primary hand away from your defense, and secondly the chances of drawing the right tool to deal with the situation based on little to know information can have you choosing the wrong tool, or just freezing.  See Hicks Law.

Now, I teach mostly citizens.  They do not have a bat belt to draw from.  Most are not paid to put hands on people for a living.  After open hands, we prioritize the use of the pen, when the lights are on, and the flashlight when they are off.  You can carry both of them in your hands in the most secure environments.  This removes the need for deployment, although we of course teach it.  There are fancy things you can teach, but our go to is forward movement and hammer fisting into the attacker's face violently until they stop, allowing you to get away.  There is no hurdle to get over.  You have a common, everyday, legal item in your hand.  When someone gets inside your space and / or refuses to obey verbal commands, you are justified to defend yourself and do not hesitate to do so because you were trained to do so.  If they are outside your reach with a knife or gun, good.  They need to be close to cut and they have not shot you yet.

Back to knuckles, especially the two finger versions.  If you are attacked and have them on your hand, it is damn near impossible to throw an effective jab while back peddling. Hammer fists are natural and made more effective with a pen/light.

So why do people make em and why do we buy em?  Because they are fn cool, that's why.  I have several and will end up with more.  I also have an M4, but is easier to carry my 38 snub nose.- George