Self-Defense Experts

Leading Firearms Instructor Louis Awerbuck on Every Fighter’s Final Weapon: The Brain

Leading Firearms Instructor Louis Awerbuck on Every Fighter’s Final Weapon: The BrainWhen I attended The Art of Action in 2010, the convention put on by the Bruce Lee Foundation, I thought I recognized the face of a gentleman across the room. He was in the front of the hall, chatting with Linda Lee Cadwell and Shannon Lee. I judged him too important to be a mere attendee, so I scanned the pages of the event program and spotted his name: Louis Awerbuck, one of the world’s premier firearms instructors. As soon as the action let up, I made a beeline for him and introduced myself. When he said he’s always been drawn to Eastern teachings and the philosophy of Bruce Lee, I asked him if he’d care to write a piece for Black Belt. It’s presented below for your enjoyment. It was originally published in the May 2010 issue of Black Belt and was titled “The Final Weapon.” Sadly, Mr. Awerbuck passed away June 24, 2014. — Editor

Mark Twain once said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Point duly noted. Looking past the wry humor, however, it’s also important to note that there are some small candles of information ignited during an adolescent’s school years that actually help illuminate one’s path in later years.

When I was a young puppy attending high school in the early 1960s, there were no personal computers, and we weren’t allowed to use a slide rule to solve math problems on homework or test papers. Since we were 16-year-olds — and obviously already knew everything about everything — we didn’t understand why our stupid teachers wouldn’t allow the use of auxiliary man-made equipment to augment the human brain. After all, as teenagers, we obviously knew more than our parents, teachers, Einstein and Confucius combined.

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So what does any of the above have to do with the martial arts? Depending on how you view life, nothing or everything.

At school, we were awarded only 20 percent of the total score for the correct answer to a math problem. If you couldn’t demonstrate — step by step and line by line — how you arrived at the correct answer, you received either zero, if the written logic was incorrect, or a proportion of the remaining 80 percent for the section that showed logical deduction. That process not only solved the peek-at-your-neighbor’s-homework cheater problem but also lit a small philosophical candle for the rest of the hungry student’s life.

And once you matured mentally, you realized that Bruce Lee’s “way of no way” beats the cocky teenager’s “why of no why” every time — in every aspect of your remaining time on this planet.

My personal ring-fighting journey was a short-lived series of amateur boxing contests, during which I kissed a lot more canvas than women. The “career” ended immediately after I pole-axed an opponent with a punch to the sternum and thought he was dead when he hit the deck. Again, I’d arrived at the perfect solution to the math problem without knowing anything about kinesthesia, or how current flows directionally through the human body and how to intentionally reverse it with a body punch.

Test score: 20 percent, irrespective of the outcome of the fight.

The unintentional power of the punch — and the ignorance of what had made it so effective — bothered me, and I quit boxing forthwith. Besides, I’d never liked Marquis of Queensbury battle rules in or out of the ring. Rules of engagement should apply to romantically involved couples, not battlefields.

After the initial passage of youth, I fell into a 35-year career of firearms and tactics training, but I’ve always maintained a strong interest in the martial arts for two reasons: The physical aspects and techniques of mano a mano fighting fascinated me, and more important, the psychology of fighting — and, indeed, life itself — seemed to be the major and consistent key to the success of the Great Ones.

That fact was hammered home on two separate occasions spread 40 years apart. The second time was half-a-dozen years ago when I was honored to run a short seminar on pistol training. Among the guest teachers were luminaries like Ted Wong, the pre-eminent practitioner of Jun Fan jeet kune do; Allen Joe, the ageless master of physical conditioning and spiritual health; and Sonny Umpad, the late blade master.

During a break in the training, Mr. Wong strolled over and said, “We’re really not doing anything different.” And he was right. A gun is merely a power-delivery system — no more, no less. A firearm has more long-range capability than a martial artist can deliver, …

“Mack” on Movements, Weapons and Targets in Combat

Richard "Mack" Machowicz on weapons, movements and targets for Black Belt magazine.Richard “Mack” Machowicz, an ex-Navy SEAL and former host of the cable-TV series Future Weapons, as well as a student of taekwondo, muay Thai, kali, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Paul Vunak’s jeet kune do, discusses the three dynamic elements of combat (movements, weapons and targets) in this exclusive footage shot on location by Black Belt magazine.

“Rarely if ever will you experience combat,” Richard “Mack” Machowicz says, “and most likely you will never see combat in a literal sense, but the principles that make for effectiveness in battle are relevant to the daily challenges you face.”

It’s his way of telling people that the benefits of what he’s about to explain extend far beyond fighting. After interrogating Richard “Mack” Machowicz for 10 minutes, however, I learn that it would be a huge mistake to dismiss him as a guy who uses self-defense to preach self-help. It would be just as erroneous to brush him off as just another retired military man who doesn’t know that the skills civilians need are radically different from the skills soldiers need.

Twenty minutes into our interview, it’s clear that Mack is a martial artist who can throw down and a guy who sees the big picture with respect to violence. Which is probably why he’s so successful at what he does.

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After he’d become a hand-to-hand-combat instructor for his SEAL Team and studied muay Thai, kali, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Paul Vunak’s take on jeet kune do, Mack found himself in an interesting quandary. “There were so many ideas I wanted to convey that [I had to convert them] into simple principles,” he says. “Why? Because people tend to get stuck on technique. They don’t understand that techniques apply to specific situations at specific times in specific ways. That means techniques are limited. Principles are more universal. The basic principle of ‘target dictates weapon and weapons dictate movement’ can apply to everything in life because everything is a target, a weapon or a movement.”

Mack explains that fighting is composed of three dynamic elements, then forces me to exercise my brain a bit to see the light: “From nukes to hand-to-hand combat, everything in life is a movement, a weapon or a target.”

During the photo shoot to accompany the interview, he put the theory into practice with our creative director, as shown in this video:

Ex-Navy SEAL on Movements, Weapons and Targets in Combat

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MCMAP Expert Leon Wright Teaches Military Personnel the Mental Techniques and Self-Defense Moves They Need to Survive!

MCMAP Expert Leon Wright Teaches Military Personnel the Mental Techniques and Self-Defense Moves They Need to Survive! Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the January 2012 issue of Black Belt. As such, its time references have been left intact.

They say there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine, so it’s not surprising that while the service record of a certain gunnery sergeant named Leon Wright says he retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003, “private citizen” Wright has yet to complete the transition and ease himself into a relaxing life of golf and gardening. On the contrary, for the past nine years, he’s worked as a civilian-defense-industry contractor, clocking as much time with the Marines in the combat zones of the Middle East as he did on active duty.

In the spirit of the Corps’ semper fidelis motto, Wright has dedicated his post-military life to serving his country and its men and women in uniform. So while his retirement job as a civilian “area site manager” has him overseeing the daily operations of numerous coalition forward operating bases in the no man’s land of Afghanistan, Wright is engaged in a more hands-on activity to support his fellow Marines. It’s an activity that combines his enduring sense of duty to the Corps with his lifelong passion for the martial arts: He volunteers his free time to teach a growing cadre of students his personal martial art, souseiki ryu sekkinsen shigaisen.

Martial Arts Credibility

Truth be told, Wright is not merely a guy who’s generous with his time and happens to love the ways of mano a mano. To understand why so many students accept his pro bono offer, a quick scan of his résumé is required.

With 41 years of experience in a range of Asian fighting styles, Wright is a 10th-degree black belt and the founder of souseiki ryu, an art that’s formally recognized in Okinawa and Japan, as well as the United States.

The recognition of Wright’s art in the Far East endorses more than just the man. “The masters there are not as interested in the individual who founded the art as they are in seeing the students of that art,” Wright says. “To them, the quality and character of the students determine the legitimacy of the system.”

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Wright is also a fifth-degree black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, which puts his rank one step higher than the maximum fourth degree normally available to his gunnery sergeant paygrade. Wright is also a certified MCMAP subject-matter expert, which authorizes him to teach the program as a civilian. He’s the former head instructor of the MCMAP Far East School, which he helped launch in 2001 while stationed in Okinawa. More recently, he was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as 2010 Self-Defense Instructor of the Year.

All In the Family

Wright’s dojo, the Urban Warrior Training Academy, is located on an FOB in Afghanistan, where he lives and works alongside a wide range of military and civilian personnel. He uses an appropriately martial metaphor to describe their outpost, which is in the middle of one of the world’s most notorious hot spots: “The FOB is our castle, the perimeter wire is our moat, and everything else is the battlefield.”

The constant pressure of living in a hostile environment forges a strong bond among those inside the wire. As a non-combatant in a combat zone, Wright sees this shared bond as a requirement for earning the respect and trust of his students. “When you train [people] who have live combat experience, you need to be up to par because they will test you,” Wright says. “For them, it’s not a matter of ego or to prove who is a better fighter; they test you because the techniques you teach them could mean the difference between life and death outside the wire. Marines are very educated students.”

As Wright sees it, living on a base under the same conditions as his students goes a long way toward earning their respect and trust, even though he can’t accompany them on their daily forays into harm’s way.

“I live on the FOB with them, so aside from going on patrol or firing an M16 at the enemy, I share the same experiences, challenges and hardships,” he says. “They accept me and understand that I know what they go through day to day. The Marines are the biggest fraternity in the world. We are a family.”

Wright’s instinct to protect his “family” was the motivation behind his desire to establish his dojo in Afghanistan, where he could play a leading role in helping his students survive …

CDT: Nonlethal Self-Defense Moves to Keep You Free From Injury and Jail (Part 2)

CDT self-defense moves by Tom Patire as featured in Black Belt magazine.

Editor’s Note: In CDT: Nonlethal Self-Defense Moves to Keep You Free From Injury and Jail (Part 1), we looked at the roots of Thomas J. Patire’s Compliance-Direction-Takedown method, outlining his findings regarding the need for a self-defense system that would allow protection professionals — as well as everyday citizens — to effectively defend themselves (and/or others) while avoiding the legal entanglements that come from the implementation of what Patire termed “overzealous self-defense techniques.” In Part 2, we look at the scope of the CDT organization.

CDT is now taught at more than 700 training centers in the United States and hundreds more in other countries, says CDT founder and senior instructor Thomas Patire. More than half a million people are certified in the system. And as its popularity continues to skyrocket, more agencies are coming to him to learn it and more martial arts schools are using it to enhance their offerings.

A big part of the appeal of CDT is the way it meshes with the student’s schedule, Patire says. Because of their hectic lifestyles and physical limitations, most people lack the time needed to become a martial arts master, but those same people can easily fit a few CDT classes into their routine.

“I have been in the martial arts world all my life, and no one ever addressed the idea of family protection until Tom Patire came along. After training in CDT, I know I have options not only to protect myself but my family as well.”

— Mike Swain, American Olympic judoka
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To meet the needs of the masses, CDT teaches compliance techniques and weapon disarms to adult students, and it conducts specialized programs for women and children. “The one for kids … is designed not to beat up the bad guy but to outsmart him,” Patire explains. “And our family-protection course is the first to treat all members of the family as a cohesive unit. They learn how to safely cover and evacuate a child, how to move in crowded areas, how and why children are targeted for abduction, and what a parent should do if the child is being taken away. We teach physical and non-physical techniques to parents or guardians so they can constantly be in the safe mode when out and about.”

Most of CDT’s programs can be taught in one- or two-day courses. The exception is the instructor course, which spans five days and requires a tactical or martial arts background and a clean criminal record.

To be continued…

About the Author
Sara Fogan is the former managing editor of Black Belt. For more information about CDT, call (888) 238-7287 or visit…

CDT: Nonlethal Self-Defense Moves to Keep You Free From Injury and Jail (Part 1)

CDT self-defense moves by Tom Patire as featured in Black Belt magazine.It’s past midnight when you leave the party. The street is dark and quiet except for the muted sounds of laughter and rock music. You don’t see him as you cross the street, but the instant you reach your car, a man darts out from behind a van and grabs your arm. What do you do?

While you could use any number of martial arts techniques to extricate yourself, you need to be careful because in today’s litigious society, even a punch delivered in defense can land you in the middle of a legal quagmire — if not in jail. A safe bet for liability-free self-defense would be a response drawn from a system that doesn’t rely on bone-crushing blows to achieve its goals yet is more than capable of dealing with a bigger, stronger attacker. One such system is Thomas J. Patire’s Compliance-Direction-Takedown method, also known as CDT.

The Roots of CDT’s Self-Defense Moves

Patire is no stranger to the martial arts. He has taught defensive tactics to federal agents since 1982. He holds a seventh-degree black belt in hom-do, a rare military martial art taught in the Philippines. He also has a black belt in aikido and has trained extensively in jujutsu and hwa rang do. Despite the plethora of lethal moves he has mastered, CDT follows an approach that is fundamentally opposite of the typical death-dealing mentality of the armchair warrior.

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Patire based his program on research he conducted while teaching for the United States government in 1989. He discovered that in numerous cases across the country, law-enforcement officers and private citizens who defended themselves with overzealous self-defense techniques could not defend their actions in court. “The reason for this is that approximately 97 percent of all altercations are low-level force and non-deadly,” he says. “The problem of many so-called self-defense systems is that we are taught to finish the person even when he is down and out. That is where the law goes against us.”

Patire then realized that the people who were employed at his State of the Art Security executive-protection company also needed to learn the new defensive skills to avoid a similar legal nightmare. One wrong move could leave them out of the security profession for life and land company officials in court, he feared. With the federal government’s approval, Patire and his instructors began teaching CDT techniques first to his employees and then to security specialists, law-enforcement officers, flight attendants and business executives. After tracking more than 25,000 of them for several years, he discovered that not only did his material work in real situations, but it also led to no arrests or lawsuits.

“I once believed that I would really have to hurt somebody that I viewed as harmful. I was wrong. CDT is a universal personal-protection system in that its techniques can be adapted to most situations. While I do not intend to abandon my traditional hard-core martial arts techniques and I do believe that there is a place and time for them, at least now I know I have a softer, more legal way of neutralizing or escaping from an attacker.”

— Kathy Long, kickboxing legend
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In 1992 Patire officially introduced the innovative program to several other groups, including the FBI, CIA, DEA, Federal Protective Services and military police. In 1997 he went public. “I designed CDT to keep my guys out of trouble, only to realize that over 900 police and security agencies and in excess of 1,000 martial arts schools would later get involved in learning and teaching it,” he says. “It became a business within a business, which was not my intent — although like anything else, good things have a way of spreading.”

To be continued…

About the Author
Sara Fogan is the former managing editor of Black Belt. For more information about CDT, call (888) 238-7287 or visit…