About World Dragon Kenpo
December 15, 2010
Honor: The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta
Wrap Up Another Year! by Coach Ronald C. Pfeiffer, Jr.
The Law and Self-Defense: An Interview with WDK Instructor and Law Enforcement Officer Ed DellaCroce by Steve Amoia
The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta by Steve Amoia
by Coach Ronald C. Pfeiffer, Jr.
There were a number of changes this year that have set up our direction as a school and program.
A New Website!
We've moved and upgraded our website to www.dragonkenpo.org. This has allowed us a lot more flexibility in our virtual program. Along with a new Contact Us page, as well as the introduction of PayPal for better security, we are prepared to serve the needs of all local and distance learning members. A huge thanks go to our resident tech guy, Mike.
Tai Chi Re-Certification and Enhancements
I was privileged to spend a couple of days in Chicago during October with Dr. Paul Lam, his master trainers and an excited group of Tai Chi teachers and practitioners. The course work was titled "Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis". It was an amazing event due to the amount of ground it covered, which was extensive. I learned that we were doing many things right and many things well. I also learned that there is so much more than what meets the eyes, as Dr. Lam would say. There were a few adjustments to our warm-ups, and at least a half dozen enhancements to the TCA form.
New and Returning Students
We continue to add students to all three of our programs. Dragon Kenpo, Tai Chi for Health and the Virtual Dojo of World Dragon Kenpo have shown to be a good rounding out of the needs of our students. Also, I would like to welcome back a number of returning students!
What is commitment anyway?
A great leader once said:
"The basic philosophy, spirit, and drive of an organization have far more to do with its relative achievements than do technological or economic resources, organizational structure, innovation, and timing." --- Thomas J. Watson, Jr.There is more to this quote but the ideas of drive, spirit and philosophy are key to any continuing concern. In February 2000 we began teaching Dragon Kenpo, and later in 2004 we opened one of the first online karate schools. In 2005, we introduced Sun Style Tai Chi for our students ongoing health, and opened of schools in Burlington and Kenosha in 2008.
During all of these events, a common theme has emerged. Nothing would have occurred except for the practice of using drive and positive spirit along with a philosophy of student-centered training to foster an environment of learning that has been the focus for all of these years.New Location for Tai Chi
We recently relocated our Tai Chi in Kenosha program to the Moose Lodge. This will allow us to expand our program, and offer more students the opportunity to learn the health and wellness aspects of Sun Style Tai Chi!
Increased Use of Social Media
If you haven't yet, please visit us on Facebook. Search for Midwest Tai Chi & Self Defense. You're in the right place if you see a picture of me floating in a Yin/Yang symbol. Thanks a lot, Charlie!
Planning for the 2011 Tai Chi Instructor Training
March 26th and 27th are the planned dates for our Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor certification weekend. There will be more information coming shortly. Please stay tuned to the Facebook page and the main website for further news.
Christmas Families 2010
Once again, congratulations to all of those who have helped us make Christmas a little brighter for a family in need. Fourth Quarter Exams were held on December 11th, and that was the last day for collections for our charity. A special thanks to Sharon Angelici and Jill Pfeiffer for helping to wrap up some of the loose ends. Incidentally, congratulations to those who went through what I was told was a rather grueling testing day!
Finally, let me personally wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May it bring what we need, more that what we may wish...
Coach Ron Pfeiffer
World Dragon Kenpo
The Law and Self-Defense:
An Interview with WDK Instructor and Law Enforcement Officer Ed DellaCroce
by Steve Amoia
Although WDK has an international membership, for purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the laws in the United States of America. This article is for informative purposes only. Steve Amoia and Ed DellaCroce do not represent the views of WDK. The questions and answers are personal perspectives, and should not be interpreted as legal opinions. Please consult with an attorney in your local jurisdiction for further clarification.
Legal Definition of Self-Defense
According to the legal dictionary at www.freedictionary.com, self-defense is defined as “The use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger. Self-defense is a common defense by a person accused of assault, battery, or homicide. The force used in self-defense may be sufficient for protection from apparent harm (not just an empty verbal threat) or to halt any danger from attack, but cannot be an excuse to continue the attack or use excessive force.
Examples: an unarmed man punches Allen Alibi, who hits the attacker with a baseball bat. That is legitimate self-defense, but Alibi cannot chase after the attacker and shoot him or beat him senseless. If the attacker has a gun or a butcher knife and is verbally threatening, Alibi is probably warranted in shooting him. Basically, appropriate self-defense is judged on all the circumstances. Reasonable force can also be used to protect property from theft or destruction. Self-defense cannot include killing or great bodily harm to defend property, unless personal danger is also involved, as is the case in most burglaries, muggings or vandalism.”
Mr. DellaCroce has a rare combination: Martial Arts Instructor and Law Enforcement Officer with significant experience in military and civilian environments. Mr. DellaCroce is the Director of North Carolina Dragon Kenpo, and the subject matter consultant for the following discussion.Ed, welcome to Slayer News, and I look forward to a very educational and enlightening discussion for our readers. Before we begin our interview, I would like to provide some background information as an introduction, along with an addition, to the previously defined legal concept of self-defense.
Mr. Edmund Parker, the father of American Kenpo, said that, “We should consider three points of view in a conflict. Our point of view as the victim, our assailant's point of view as the attacker, and the point of view of a by-stander.”
According to a former WDK instructor, Coach Doug Turner, “In a situation where the incident escalates, we need to work on being very verbal in showing that we didn't cause this to happen and don't want it to continue if at all possible. I teach my students to raise their hands in a fighting position, but with their hands open. It's really a fighting position, but to anyone that is looking it appears to be a very non-aggressive posture. Then as you defend yourself, instead of using a ”Ki-ai”, yell something like "No", "Stop", or "Get Back." This is especially the case for women, to be as loud as they can in hopes of scaring off the potential rapist or assaulter… I teach self-defense, and I want my students to be able to fend off the initial attack and then get the heck out of there. To survive is to win the fight. There are cases in which I would not expect anyone to leave the fight. Their family or the general welfare of the community is in danger.”
Would you be kind enough to comment on Mr. Parker’s three points of view theory, along with Mr. Turner’s approach?
Ed DellaCroce (D.C.) Mr. Ed Parker begins his three theories addressing the view point of the victim. In conducting numerous interviews with crime victims, the perspective is normally one or the other. The victim either over exaggerates, or down plays the action and seriousness of the event. I believe mindset plays a crucial part in how a person reacts as a victim to a conflict. Obviously, a victim with extensive defensive training will react differently than an untrained victim. Many victims will use excessive force to counteract an attack. A simple slap in the face could cause a victim to strike back with a baseball bat, a knife or a gun. There are too many variable factors to consider. An explanation on this viewpoint could be endless.
It is very difficult to know what a victim may do, unless you are able to determine their motivating factors. A victim executing a counter attack is bound morally and legally to cease when they have reached an equal level of force. If the attack ceases, so must the counter attack. Even in a case of self-defense, you can be held harmless if excessive force is used. Mr. Turner mentioned teaching his students to raise their hands in an escalating incident. I applaud him. Excellent advice. In Law Enforcement training academies, students are taught that exact method. The technique is a non-verbal communication skill. It conveys an unconscious message, “I am not a threat.” You have also closed the reactionary time gap for defending yourself.
The view point of the assailant shares some perspectives of the victim. What caused them to attack? What is their mindset? Did they perceive a threat or are they conducting a criminal act of violence? Assailants too can use excessive force in executing their attack. They could also be reacting in a certain manner due to a past experience with a similar situation. What may have started as their defense could also end up as an excessive force charge.
Bystander view points also vary according to their mindset. Five people at a shooting can witness the same event, yet give totally different statements of the incident. In a self-defense situation words can hurt or help you. Making a statement, “I am going to kill you” would certainly work against you. If someone is killed by your actions a threat made by you will re-enforce your actions. Comments like, “No, I don’t want to hurt you” are helpful statements. A witness may not be able to view an incident completely, but may hear you shouting to stop or leave me alone. Your words of anger in a counter attack are a lawyer’s pot of gold. To be found not guilty, if charged with a crime, a jury must agree you responded as a reasonably prudent person would have done under similar circumstances. Practicing self-control over your words and emotions can become second nature under pressure. Always assume a video camera is recording your actions.
Let’s say that I am in a restaurant or night club with my date, and she does not have a self-defense background. I excuse myself to use the restroom. When I return, a man is at the table, and has his hand on my companion’s shoulder. She appears uncomfortable. Politely, I ask if they know each other? The stranger smiles, and my date says, “Yes, but I asked him to leave me alone.” I quickly notice that he is well-dressed, in good shape, and apparently not under the influence of any substances. I can’t determine if he has a weapon. Or if there are others with him ready to intervene. He has not drawn the attention of the other patrons.
I ask the gentleman to remove his hand. He refuses, and then adds more pressure to her shoulder. “Make me.” Or perhaps he says nothing to see how or if I will react to the threat. At this point, what rights do I have as a citizen to protect my companion if words will not remedy the situation?
Has an assault occurred by his actions, and if I decide to engage him, what force can I reasonably exert under these circumstances?
(D.C.) First of all, a simple assault has already occurred. Contact, however slight, constitutes the assault. Some states may even consider the offense assault on a female. The fact that the gentleman does not appear to be under the influence concerns me. My question is what would motivate him to do such a stupid act? He risks getting seriously injured; he could run into his match and get more than he bargained for. He could also be a loose cannon looking for a reason to explode. I would certainly handle this case with more caution.
The idiot, he does not rate gentleman at this point, can be dealt with under the umbrella of coming to the defense of a third party. I would ask in a loud voice to please take his hand off my companion’s shoulder. Attempt to attract the attention of customers for witnesses as well as the restaurant staff. If my request is met with no response, I would shout out loud for someone to call the police. If this action does not correct the situation, I would at this point remove his hand. This type of person could become volatile, and yes, a weapon could be produced. Take quick control of the person’s wrist and hand with a wrist roll. Apply and maintain pressure. Hopefully, this display of pain compliance might correct the behavior. You have not used unnecessary force to stop a continued assault. If the police arrive and the person is still in your presence, your companion would have to initiate filing charges. Since the assault occurred out of the presence of law enforcement, they cannot charge. Some states, however, do allow officers to file the charge if there is obvious evidence of an assault. Always remember rule #1, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”
You reminded us of what Mr. Turner suggested in the first example about verbal self-defense. Now I would like your opinion about how martial artists are treated in the legal system.
Ed, years ago, I saw the motion picture, “Con Air,” starring Nicholas Cage. He portrayed an ex-Army Ranger who encounters a situation where a few guys are harassing his wife. The situation escalates, and he kills one of them in apparent self-defense. If I recall, the judge in the case cited Cage’s special military training, and that he exerted more force than was necessary. Cage’s character was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sent to prison.
Allow me to refer to the same situation that was presented in the second question. I use a palm-heel strike to break the elbow of the attacker, and he sues me. During legal discovery, his attorney learns that I had distance learning martial arts training.
As in the motion picture, and given the circumstances outlined above, would I be held to a higher standard due to my perceived martial arts knowledge? If you were in this scenario as a 2nd degree Black Belt, would the standard be similar to the Cage character?
(D.C.) Unfortunately, I did not see the Con Air movie, so I cannot answer on what would be a proper course of action. With a simple assault, a palm heel strike and a break to the elbow would be considered an excessive use of force. On a dark night, if a stranger jumped out of an alley and attacked you, would the same strike be justified? I would say absolutely yes. That situation would certainly induce fear in an average person. I believe that we as martial artists are indeed held to a higher standard of conduct. Hopefully, we have learned to maintain better self-control over our emotions. Some lawyers believe we become supermen or women by achieving a belt rank. We are still human and sometimes we react on human impulse. Remember, if all else fails refer to my rule #1 above.Good advice. You stressed the importance of mental self-control. Now let's turn to the perspective of a martial arts instructor.
Ed, due to the legal concept of Agency, some jurisdictions might make an instructor responsible for the skills that his or her students learn. Abilities that may be misused in environments outside of the instructor’s direct sphere of influence.
As a WDK instructor, how do you educate your students about their responsibilities? Both as citizens, along with those who have martial arts knowledge?
(D.C.) We live in a money-hungry world; anyone can sue anyone for anything. I heard a preacher state, “We live in a piggish nation everyone is always yelling sue, sue, sue.” Can an instructor be sued, yes? Instructors can always be named in a lawsuit in an attempt to find some part of negligence with their teaching methods. I am no more responsible for my student’s actions than Ford auto makers are when a drunk driver kills people operating a Ford. I could possibly be held responsible if I fail to teach my students proper techniques. An instructor should teach consequences for actions initiated by their students. Research the local laws in your state concerning self-defense. Teach your students more than technique; teach them your wisdom. Know your limits.
I would like you to discuss the next question from a military perspective.
You have spent a significant amount of your career as a military policeman in the United States Air Force. Given that military personnel are trained in self-defense techniques, does the military justice system differ from our domestic (civilian) courts in matters of self-defense?
(D.C.) Absolutely, the tolerance in the military is far less than the civilian community. A military court conviction will be filed under a federal conviction. Military personnel are held to a higher standard of conduct. The whole system is based on order and discipline. In the civilian community, if you disagree with an employer you can curse at them and quit. This type of response would be totally unacceptable in the military. You do not have the option to say no to an order and go home. If you are involved in a self-defense situation in the military, sometimes they will find a charge even for the victim. The military expects you to maintain self-control over your life. They hold you accountable for your actions. Charging a victim with some type of punishment may sound absurd, but it happens. Remember the military prosecutes you, and normally your lawyer is also in the military. Sounds like a conflict of interest. The best advice is if you are in the military; hire your own civilian attorney.
Lastly, Ed, what type of advice could you give us to prepare mentally for self-defensive situations?
(D.C.) Practice mentally as well, rehearse what if? scenarios in your mind. Whatever you learn, good or bad, will become second nature under pressure. I was in a situation where I was shot at and took cover. Instinctively, I initiated tactical maneuvers to remove myself from the line of fire. Practice your techniques; muscle memory needs to take place naturally. “Fear not the person who knows 1,000 techniques, but fear the one who practices one technique 1,000 times.”
Ed, thank you for your kind consideration and insights.
by Steve Amoia
Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta achieved a rare distinction last month. He became one of the few living Medal-of-Honor recipients, and the first one since the Vietnam War. Sergeant Giunta, a native of Hiawatha, Iowa, was a member of Company B, the Second Airborne Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment which was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. He is currently stationed in Italy.
I invite you to watch the video on our blog to hear President Barack Obama describe the heroism of Sergeant Giunta. He lost two comrades the day of his extraordinary, unselfish actions in Afghanistan. Here were some of Mr. Obama's comments:
“The moon was full; the light it cast was enough to travel by without using their night-vision goggles. They hadn’t traveled a quarter-mile before the silence was shattered. It was an ambush so close that the cracks of the guns and the whizzes of the bullets were simultaneous.”
The two lead squad men went down. So did a third who was struck in the helmet. Sergeant Giunta charged into the wall of bullets to pull him to safety, Mr. Obama said. Sergeant Giunta was hit twice, but was protected by his body armor. The sergeant could see the other two wounded Americans, Mr. Obama recounted. Sergeant Giunta looked down as the president described how he and his squad mates threw grenades, which they used as cover to run toward the wounded soldiers. All this, they did under constant fire, Mr. Obama said. Finally, they reached one of the men. As other soldiers tended to him, Sergeant Giunta sprinted ahead.
“He crested a hill alone with no cover but the dust kicked up by the storm of bullets still biting into the ground,” Mr. Obama said.
And there Sergeant Giunta saw 'a chilling sight' — the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying away the other wounded American — his friend, Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan. Sergeant Giunta leaped forward, and fatally shot one insurgent while wounding the other. Then he rushed to his friend. He dragged him to cover, and stayed with him, trying to stop the bleeding, for 30 minutes, until help arrived."
Sergeant Joshua Brennan died from his wounds, as did Specialist Hugo V. Mendoza, the platoon medic. Five others soldiers were wounded in this event.
'I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now.' ”
What is Honor?
Please read what Sergeant Giunta said a few times.
For rare men such as Sergeant Giunta, honor is not a word. It is a way of life.
We honor men such as Sergeant Giunta with our nation's highest military award. Not only for their heroism, but to remind us that we can never repay their sacrifices. We can only learn from their sterling example.
Please remember to update your online account information and make promotion requests to Coach Ron Pfeiffer. Advancements and promotions are not automatic. They are conferred at the sole discretion of Coach Pfeiffer or his certified instructors.
Articles contained in the World Dragon Kenpo Slayer News represent the opinions of the authors. WDK is not liable for any misstatements or errors, and does not necessarily support the views of the writer.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer thanks you for your continued support. Please forward this edition to your friends and martial arts colleagues.
Editor, World Dragon Kenpo Slayer News
December 15, 2010
World Dragon Kenpo Slayer News