Sensei Says…

E is for Execution


Well, you know that A stands for Awareness and P for Preparation.

E is for Execution.

When it comes time to put your planning and preparation into effect, it could be in an instant. No more thinking about what-if’s, just the doing. The Execution of your training, is putting your plan(s) into effect.

What does that look like?

If we assume that you have practiced a plan such as a fire emergency escape in the home, then the execution is fairly straightforward: Do it.  When it is real, we revert to our simplest most practiced behavior.  With the smoke and possibly flames creating fear and confusion, the necessity to have a solid practice to execute is critical.

What about the other active threat scenarios mentioned in previous blogs? Home invasion, active shooter at work or elsewhere?  You need a strategy, a plan to follow and practice to be ready to execute effectively.

The plan should include elements of awareness, mental & emotional conditioning, and physical training both armed and unarmed. Don’t worry!  This kind of training is actually fun and very rewarding.  While the potential crisis situation is dauntingly fearsome, the training is not!

Women’s and Men’s personal defense classes, either private or small group are a great way to start conditioning your mind and body to handle the realities of violence in one’s life.  We have 10 hour courses (private or small group) and/or ongoing private training.

Continue with weapon training by taking the Basics of Handgun NRA or USCCA courses.  Then move on to advanced urban combat/tactical training. We can get you started with a solid foundation that includes safe weapon handling and basics of correct shooting technique.

Prepare to save your life and those around you with the integrated Trauma Care included in our courses. There are some simple but important things to know and do to save lives before the EMT’s can get there.

Integrate your training with crisis scenario mock active shooter seminars and you will feel empowered and BE empowered to take an active role in your safety an that of others you care for.

Remember that we default to our basic training in crisis.  If there is no training to fall back on, panic and poor decisions may result.

If this makes sense to you, then contact us to begin Your program of training that empowers you to execute effectively in crisis.

Brian Dillon 4/8/17

P for Preparation


As you read in the last blog, A stands for Awareness. P stands for Preparation, which is this week’s topic.

How Prepared are you?

First, have you given any thought to Threats to you or the ones you love? Let’s say that it has crossed your mind that we live in an increasingly dangerous world, and that the variety of dangers has also increased.

What action(s) did you take?  If you have barely gone past the Awareness phase, then it may be time to take stock of your Threats and begin work on your Preparation plan(s).

Inside the Home

You have insurance for your home or living space.  You have considered a Fire Threat and have extinguishers nearby.  You have smoke and/or CO detectors with fresh batteries. You have a “Bug-Out” bag with items you would need in case of a Fire catastrophe. You’ve practiced your escape plan with your family and are confident that you’re prepared.  Super! The Fire Threat is covered.

What about Flood? Tornado? Extended loss of power/heat?

What about Home Invasion?  What is the plan for an armed (or unarmed) intruder? Are you hoping for probability to work in your favor so that you don’t have to get prepared?  Compare the secure feeling about having prepared for the Fire Threat to the unease about the other Threats I’ve just listed.  There are very specific preparations and actions to take to prepare for these Threats occurring. Let’s get started!

At Work

Do you work at a school, a small business, a large business, an office, on the road, or in sports & entertainment?  Once again, Fire is often prepared for.  We do Fire Drills.  How much preparation has centered around an Active Shooter or other Active Threat?  Some, a little, or none?  That just won’t do.  If the reality of Active Threats concerns you, the preparation is YOUR concern.

At “Play”

Do you go out to dinner, to the movies, to the theater, concerts, clubs, parks, or go traveling? There have been enough Active Shooter events now for us to see that any of these venues are potentially at risk.  Contact me and I can show you the cases compiled by DHS and FEMA.

Everywhere Else

By now you can see what the thrust of this blog is about.  Threats abound, and ignoring preparation is not a viable survival strategy.  Once you allow yourself to play the “what if” game of looking at your life and activities through the lens of potential Threats, the value of preparation becomes apparent. Recognize that value for yourself.


Remember the good feeling you have about your Fire Threat preparations? (You have made those preparations already, right?) You’re not paranoid about Fire, just respectful of the possibility.  Likewise the preparation for these other threats brings satisfaction, not paranoia.

Brian Dillon  3/31/17


Awareness Preparation Execution

Today I’m writing about Awareness.

Awareness is not paranoia.  Awareness is about not only one’s immediate surroundings but greater issues in society and the world.

Some groups of people for whom Awareness is potentially life-saving, use a color code to focus their attention on HOW Aware they are at any particular moment. The colors may change but the idea is the same. Here’s one example:

  • White – Unconscious; sleeping, drugged, knocked out…unable to respond to threat(s), danger, violence, etc.
  • Yellow – Not entirely present; how many people drive, walk, interact with their environment, distracted
  • Orange – Present; actively scanning, interpreting, evaluating, taking note, anticipating threats based on conscious and subconscious inputs
  • Red – Danger recognized; visible weapon, erratic or threatening behaviors, possibly only moments to respond
  • Black – Action is taken; life or death, win or lose, success or failure

When on White, you need to ensure that you are safe and/or protected. Falling asleep while sunbathing in the park has potential consequences, one of which is a sunburn!

Have you ever driven from one place to another without really remembering the entire trip?  Missed an exit from being “spaced out”?  You were on Yellow. While we usually survive this state, we sometimes don’t.  Walking down the street looking at the cell phone, being distracted while talking on Bluetooth, all demonstrate not being present to your activity or environment.

Orange is the preferred state for successful and rewarding interaction with the world.  You are taking in information and clues that are all around you.  You are automatically scanning for traffic, erratic behaviors, environmental dangers, and social cues.  You are taking note of exits, possible cover and concealment, objects that can be used as weapons, and are listening to your hunches.

When you go to Red, you have either consciously or subconsciously recognized an imminent threat.  You see a weapon, someone is coming at you in assault mode, a traffic situation is about to go wrong, your hunch screams at you. The time has come to take action.  Your action can take a multitude of forms, but only a small number of those possible actions will be the “right” ones. Maybe less than a second to decide. (Training can help with this.)

Black is lights out, the sh*t has hit the fan, you are under attack and the action you have taken will determine whether you and possibly those with you will survive or not.  This is the life or death moment.  Win or lose you are at 100% and committed to the chosen action. No guarantees, only maximum effort.

Being Aware, on Orange, is not an onerous condition.

Actually, it can be kind of fun.  Your brain is stimulus hungry.  It shuts down when there isn’t any active input.  Your primitive brain is still processing all your sensory inputs and will send a signal if “something is not right.” However, your ‘higher’ brain likes looking for patterns, finding irregularities, strangeness, and does this well.  So, let it!

Enjoy it as a game. Play the “what if” game. Challenge yourself to look for exits when entering a room, ask, “What if I heard shots right now, is there cover? Concealment? An escape route?”  “What if that person coming towards me gives me a shkeevy feeling, or assaults me?”, what are some options?  “What if I see someone hanging out around my car in the parking lot?”, what would I do?

It’s amazing how much there is to see.  More often than any danger will be interesting things to see and opportunities to help others.

What to do when a Red condition comes along, is improved by Training and Preparation.  That will be the theme of next week’s blog.  Stay tuned!

Brian Dillon 3/24/17

The Most Recent School Shooting

WAS IN FRANCE 3/16/2017

Student ‘fascinated by firearms’ wounds four in French high school shooting.

GRASSE, France, March 16 (Reuters) – A teenager opened fire at his high school in southeastern France on Thursday, wounding up to four people, in an attack apparently inspired by videos of U.S. mass shootings such as Columbine, officials said.

The school shooter profile is a single male (98%), current or former student at that school, and disaffected or angry at one or more persons at the school. Often peers, occasionally faculty.

… the teenager, who fired two or three times, had initially entered a classroom looking for someone in particular.

“His motivations seem to be linked to bad relations he had with other students in school,” Grasse prosecutor Fabienne Atzori told reporters.

People are often surprised at the identity of the shooter.  Words like “shy”, “loner”, “quiet”, etc. are used to describe him.

“I just know the gunman by sight. He was gentle and low-key key, not a nasty guy,” student Achraf added.

Here’s a simple Truth.  Wherever there are people, there is the potential for conditions that lead someone to violence.  They may not necessarily look or act in ways that create suspicion.  Other times there are a series of behaviors that suggest violent intentions.  Was it enough that he “was a fragile young man fascinated by firearms?” Should that have sent warning signals?

Well, no. While much more needs to be done to address disaffection, intolerance, teenage social angst, depression, and peer bullying, that’s not what I’m discussing today.

The sad fact is that this blog today will be overtaken by the next Active Shooter event.  Then that one by the one following It.

No school big or small is exempt from the potential of an Active Shooter.

We need to recognize this and begin to act on its inevitability.  Why take the chance that it Won’t be at Your school?  Especially when there are precautions and policies that will empower more people to survive such an event!  It does not encourage fear to teach empowerment, even though some school officials would have you believe that even discussing the topic will create panic.  Not so.

Ask your children what the procedure is at their school.  If it is “a group cowering in the corner, hoping for the best” you may wish to have your school administration wake up to the fact that the passive lock-down policy in most schools in Not recommended.  The U.S. Department of Education, FEMA, and DHS all suggest a far more active and empowering policy.

If you would like to know more about this and schedule a presentation or training for your school, church, or business, please contact me.

Brian Dillon 3/16/2017


Is the feeling you get when things are not right!


n. The bristling of the body hair, as from fear or cold; goose bumps.

…When you have a hunch, a feeling, or a premonition that a situation or person is potentially dangerous.  Our evolution has equipped us with an “early warning system” that expresses itself as “the hairs on the back of your neck rising”, “goose bumps”, or a “something’s not right” thought.

Our minds are constantly processing a wealth of information delivered by our senses.  We are not always aware of that processing going on.  When all that input processing comes up with a DANGER condition, we get the feeling that “something is not right”.

Frequently we choose to ignore the warning.  Maybe we’re embarrassed, distracted, or we want to believe the best about someone, or the thought of taking action frightens us more.  Maybe we at some level don’t believe we are even able or “allowed” to recognize the feeling and act on it.  Or, possibly we don’t feel competent due to lack of training, or social norms.

Gavin De Becker develops this idea fully in the seminal book “The Gift of Fear“.

What should we do with this Gift from Mother Nature?  Train ourselves to recognize it, and train our responses to be effective about dealing with the Danger. Women’s Self Defense, Martial Arts Training, Weapons training, etc. are all part of training for effective response.

What we do “Left of Bang” determines the progression into Danger, or not. Our actions can break the chain of events that leads to the “Bang”. Choosing not to do foolish actions, learning about the color system, de-escalation techniques, and active response to active threat, can increase your safety and that of the people you care for.

Seek training now to improve your recognition of horripilations and the skills to defend against Dangerous people and situations.

Brian Dillon 3/10/17

If You’re a Hater

You Hate, it’s what you do.

Unfortunately it can go beyond the abstraction with its rhetoric, and become an action. Desecrate, attack, kill, you know, the usual.

Are there Haters where you live? Sure, they’re everywhere there are people!  There seems to be little effort taken to teach the tolerance, acceptance, or understanding that would reduce hateful thinking /behavior.  So, we are saddled with people who Hate as a default response to people and events with which they disagree.

Then why are we so surprised when an active shooter or Hate Crime happens in our town? What do we always hear when the reporters interview residents after an incident has occurred?  “It’s so quiet here, I would never have thought that something like this could happen here”.

So, if Haters Hate, and some Haters act, and they live where we do…What can we (the non-Haters) do?

There is the active response and the pro-active response

The Pro-Active Response is comprised of Awareness and Preparation. The Active Response is the  Execution of the first two phases.

First we must be Aware of the people, influences, sentiments, and threats that Haters’ actions represent.  Listen to the talk around us, the sorts of posts in social media, and how far towards hateful action these are leading. Notice inappropriate behavior.  Speak up when something thoughtless but cruel is being said or done. Recognize that First Amendment rights are very broad and cover all sorts of expression, but do not cover hateful actions.

“Your freedom to punch ends with the tip of my nose”(A. Lincoln?)

Still, in retrospect after an incident, we can trace a progression from opinion to increasingly vitriolic expressions, to planning, to the actual act of an Active Shooter or Hate Crime.

Five phases of an Active Shooter Incident (FEMA PER-275 LASER)

Conceptualize -> Plan -> Prepare -> Approach -> Implement

Our Preparation can involve not only the skills and knowledge of what to do if (when) an incident occurs, but cultivating the mindset necessary to act appropriately and do the right things. And not do the wrong things. Preparation training will include when to run, when to hide (and how), and how to fight.  Preparation will also include skills to save lives immediately after an Active Shooter or other such incident.  These preparation activities & skills can be taught and easily learned.

When it comes time to act.

The Execution phase is when we live or die.  Sure there’s an element of chance, but there’s a whole periodic table of skills, actions, and responses developed in awareness and preparation training.  Right now, as you’re reading this, what would you do if you heard gunshots?  If you were at work?  At school?  At the park? At the movies?  At home?

If you needed to formulate a plan or consider an action in this moment, that might be too late and possibly ineffective.  Awareness Preparation ExecutionHowever with the proper Awareness and Preparation phases, Execution actions come rapidly and with a greater chance of success.

As with many endeavors in life, some degree of preparation and training can make a difference when dealing with the Active Threats that we potentially face in venues from school, workplace, and Church, to home, theater, and park. Don’t Hate the Haters, get Trained!


Brian Dillon 3/3/17

Are you a Duck or a Fish?

Ducks get lined up and shot, fish get shot in a barrel.

Image result for ducks in a row clipartHaving Your “ducks in a row” means being ready to shoot them.  And “shooting fish in a barrel” refers to a “can’t miss” scenario.Image result for shooting fish in a barrel

You don’t want to be a duck nor a fish.  But that’s exactly what most children are at a school with an active shooter in the building!  Many schools, and and even whole school systems, have a policy in place that will put children at risk.

“Lockdown”, and “Shelter in Place” do not address the nature of the active shooter threat.  In effect, our children are “fish in a barrel” for the shooter.

Go ahead, ask your children what the procedure is at their school for “Lockdown”.  You may be surprised to find that it is:

  • Close the door (except not all of them can lock, or are kept locked)
  • Turn off the lights (but they’re right next to the door…)
  • Close the blinds on the windows
  • Hide out of sight or in a group away from the door and be quiet

Image result for head in the sand clipart

The school shooter profile is that he (98% a single person shooter and male) is someone who knows the school layout.  Classrooms are likely to have children in them, so, go in (easy to break the glass and open door), turn on the lights and shoot the …fish.

I taught at a high school that tacitly knew that lockdown wouldn’t work during lunch block, so never practiced it then.  Yet that is a prime opportunity for a shooter to commit the greatest harm!

Don’t worry, there is a better way.  There have been enough case-studies of active shooter incidents that a clear “better way” has emerged.  FEMA, DHS, and Department of education all promote a different response.

In fact, school systems that don’t change their policy and procedure may very well be liable in the event of an active shooter situation in their schools.

Statistics show that it is in fact small to medium sized school districts that are most often hit. Every time we see the same interview with a shocked resident with the same quote. “I never thought it could happen here”, they say.

It is no longer a matter of ‘if’,  but rather ‘when’ the next attack will occur.  This is a frightening thought, one that must not be ignored or dismissed.

There is a better way to prepare our school staff and students to be empowered to have a good chance of surviving an active shooter situation.

YOU can be the person that gets the ball rolling by bringing in someone who can train everyone in the better way.Image result for get the ball rolling clip art

If you wish to know more, contact me at:

or leave a message at: 888-462-2046

Brian Dillon 2/22/17

From Whom Should You Receive Training?

Choose Wisely.

Right. But how exactly?  Here are some thoughts and observations to help.

Match the training source with the intended outcome(s)

Karate, Judo, BJJ, traditional weapons, personal defense…?

Analogous to bringing a knife to a gun-fight is spending your time learning skills and mindset that just don’t apply to what your situations may ask of you.

Is what you think you want to learn, what you really need to learn?

What is exciting and “sexy” may not be what you need. Especially when just beginning to acquire a new skill set. First steps can be exciting, just look at a toddler.

Expertise in doing something that you won’t be doing isn’t actually helpful.

“Ten years with special forces, trained with Rangers, taught Seal Team 6, 25 years on the police force…”, if you want to have that skill set and do those things, you should head down to the recruiting center and sign up. Most of those skills are the exact opposite of what You need to learn and be able to do to survive as a civilian!

That’s right.  Those guys and gals run toward the danger.  You need to run away from it.  Everyone from the direction the bad guys are shooting/advancing are bad guys…so, it’s OK to just shoot and not worry about where the “extra” bullets are going. (I’ve been told by such folks that they don’t really worry too much what’s downrange.) If you are going to go armed in civil society you must consider what is behind/beyond your assailant.

As a Police officer one must attempt to subdue an alleged perpetrator, You on the other hand must break him, maybe by sticking your fingers into his brain via his eye-socket. When assaulted and in fear for your life or of grievous bodily harm, you must act decisively. Personal defense needs to be vicious, and taught properly.  It’s not fancy, it’s brutal.

Self-defense and defense of family/loved ones is not for the faint of heart.

Is your potential trainer experienced Teaching what you want to learn?

“How do you DO that?”  “I don’t know, I just can.  It’s hard to explain…”

Is not what you want to hear from someone who is an expert at a skill or has training that You want! Being able to articulate knowledge and skills to another person is what Teachers Do.  Not everyone can!  The ignorant saying “Those who Can, Do. Those who Can’t , Teach”, is a prime indicator of wrong-headed thinking.

Those who both Do and can Teach are the trainers you need.Such folk are few, and are to be valued. For it is they who are able to acquire then pass on, vital knowledge and skills.  This applies to everything, and goes far beyond Personal Defense Training.

Try out your potential trainer by asking him/her to explain or show you how to do something that is in his or her teaching set.

Something relatively simple that you don’t already know or know how to do. If you’ve wondered how, or why, or if,…ask them!

Then there’s YOU.  Are you ready to listen, do, and learn?

There are sometimes students that are not ready to hear, listen, follow, and do.  For whatever reason, they’re just not.  It may be some baggage, bad experience with previous training, unwillingness to trust…who knows?  Perhaps they haven’t dug deep and made the decision to improve themselves no matter what.

The question is are you ready to make a choice, and be the best student that you can be, and do it with no regrets?

By W.carter - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Don’t regret your choice!

Choose Wisely!

For information about Active Shooter Response Training, click here.

Brian Dillon 2/13/17

Carrying without Training?

Carrying either concealed or open and have no training?

Then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Take a look at the graphic here.

So there is KK (know what you know), KDK (know that you don’t know), and DKDK (don’t know that you don’t know)

If you think that you’re ready to responsibly carry a firearm, but haven’t trained for action scenarios…then you fall into the DKDK category.  Oh wait, now you Do know that there is something that you don’t know!

The scary fact is that there are many gun owners who have not even taken a Basic Pistol Safety course.  Yet these same people are intending to carry their firearm.  Pistol instructors agree that the person who attends a course because it is required by their state for a permit, often have very unsafe habits, and an incomplete knowledge of gun types, operation, malfunctions, etc.

Public Service Note:

Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction

Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use

Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire

The awesome power of carrying a firearm carries with it an awesome Responsibility.  It is not just the safe handling of the firearm, it is not just the ability to regularly punch holes in paper accurately, it is not even the ability to place rounds on target under stress and adrenaline dump.

Carrying implies that you are supposed to be competent with all of the above.  The real question is, have you completely, thoroughly, thoughtfully, honestly considered everything involved in Using your firearm as a weapon?

Move past the mental images of glory, of “getting” the Bad Guy.  There is a whole world of moral, legal, emotional, social, and even political outcomes that are just as important to think about as “saving the day”.

Understand me.  I’m not saying don’t carry.  I’m saying get the training, do the thinking, keep practicing, and be the competent gun owner/carrier that we need more of.

Start with the Basic Pistol Safety course phase I and II that many states require their carry permit holders to take.  Then go on to action pistol, and tactical courses.  They’re a lot of fun, and will open your eyes to the awesome power and responsibility of gun ownership.

Be part of the solution.

Brian Dillon 2/5/17

Active Threats

Active Threats come in many shapes and sizes.

When you hear the term “Active Shooter” it is pretty clear that a firearm is involved. Hand gun? Semi-automatic? Rifle? Shotgun? What are the differences, and do they impact your responses? 20-guns

An “Active Threat” may mean a shooter, but could also mean a knife wielder, a vehicular assault, bomb threat, drug or alcohol impaired person, or anyone with and intent to do you or others immediate harm.

An Active Threat could be anyone from a child playing with a gun, to a terrorist, or anything between.

The Active Threat may occur in your home, at a place of work or worship, on the street, in the movie theater, in the parking lot, on vacation, shopping…Anywhere you or your loved ones can be, so can an Active Threat be.

Ignoring this reality, or hoping that someone else will take care of it hasn’t worked for the ever increasing number of victims. What is your stance?

It has to begin with Awareness. Awareness of your environment, people entering your personal space, the presence of weapons or potential weapons, your strengths/weaknesses, training or lack thereof.

With Awareness, choices that take into account the items above become available to you. Without Awareness, you are the “victim” of an ignorance about the forces acting on you.

What to do? (Other than become more aware)

Take steps to prepare for the possibility of Active Threats. Get educated, take training, and practice. The result will be increased Awareness, confidence, ability, and options.

Get started soon!

Leave a comment to tell us what you think!

For more information on Active Shooter Response Training, click here.

Brian Dillon 1/30/2017

“Do or do not”

Paraphrasing Yoda,

Do or do not, there are no ‘Resolutions’

First a couple of reminder/clarifications.  The ‘do or do not‘ refers to an attitude/commitment of wholehearted effort.  There is NO concern about failure, lack of Yodasuccess or any useless thought or emotion that detracts in any way from that wholehearted effort.  This can be empowering and liberating.  You will be successful or you may not, no worries.  The ‘do not’ acknowledges that you may not be ready to give it your ‘all’, so…don’t.

While we may aspire to be Jedi-like, it is after all a creed from long ago and far away…

The second reminder is our experience with ‘Resolutions’, as in the New Year’s variety.  It is that generally negative/unsuccessful yearly experience that gets in our way.  i-will-create-new-resolutions-all-year-long-text-vintage-slate-blackboard-realistic-alternative-to-64547144We almost expect to fail; we joke about it, there are many memes, cartoons, etc. about it.

Where am I going with this?  Commit to doing Something. I suggest one of our many programs of Martial Arts training.  Depending on your current level of physical ability, age, injury, or background, we have Something for you.  Just ask any of the people who are current or even former members of NIMMA. 

Teen Karate, Adult Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, In Yo No Seishin, all of these are available to you. From very fit, to needing modifications, all physical types are covered.

To further mangle Master Yoda..

Join or join not, but you really should join!

Leave a comment to tell us what you think!


Brian Dillon 1/2017

The Giving Season?

There may be some giving opportunities that you’re overlooking.

The Martial Arts have many traditions going back hundreds of years.  For some, maintaining the purity of the style in terms of kata movements, “secret” techniques, and wisdom is highly valued.  Others value instead the infusion of new ideas, techniques, training, and insights from other styles and sources. meditation2

However a certain style of Martial Art flourishes over the years, there is one key aspect that they all share.  The concept has been around for a long time, codified in the phrase “noblesse oblige”

Noblesse oblige is a French phrase literally meaning “nobility obligates”. It denotes the concept that nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such status to fulfill social responsibilities, particularly in leadership roles.


In the context of Martial Arts it signifies the expectation that a student becomes a teacher and passes on that which he or she has learned.  Further, it suggests therefore that each student train and learn so as to become the best student he or she can be. And thus grow into the role of the best teacher that he or she can be.

This is the “Giving Back”, to one’s teacher, one’s system, and one’s students that this season may cause us to remember.

Are you performing what leadership actions are available to you?  

Cleaning up the shared Dojo space? Listening with respect to your instructor?  Modeling good behaviors for those of lower rank than you? Working with focus when you are training?  These are all the behaviors of someone who is giving back…someone who is evolving from beginner student to advanced student to beginning instructor and beyond.

A new year of training approaches.  How will you act differently in the Dojo this year?

Whatever you do, you’re on a path…where is your path leading? two-paths


Brian Dillon 12/2016