Please Read MMA and Force Training

Recently on this very website I made some comments about a certain law enforcement trainer and my opinion of this manner of training.

The trainer in question decided to respond.

Is his position on the matter.

Just to put things into perspective I feel that this trainer who relies on the Russian martial art of Systema is using a training method that breaks down under pressure and is far less effective than actual force on force training against reactive, resistive opponents.

I will be speaking with the person who wrote the above article. Any comments from anyone?

Where/how did this develop? What website or forum?

I've never had an issue with Ken, he has always been very helpful, as a matter of fact, he took a look at the clips from the ISR website and was complimentary. Thats strange that you guy's would get into a pissing match.

I'm tentatively scheduled to attend his Active Shooter school in East Chicago during August.


ps- I'll be online for several hours tonight at work, hopefully big brother will let me go to the website or forum where this went down.

His response to Mark was a big treatise on why modern MMA supposedly does not address a police officers needs.

Whether it does or doesnt is irrelevant to the fact that what he teaches is a self defense system that looks like choreographed Aikido which I cannot see working against a realistically resisting attacker.

Most of the time the uke throws himself down or into the throw when touched. Its as realistic as your partner throwing himself to the ground as soon as you touch hs legs when practicing a double leg.

He used to have videos on his site of the system but he took them down after people pointed out how unworkable they were.

Here are some systema video clips that illustrate things that bases what he teaches on:

Hopkins, you should run for President!

You know for the last 20 Years or so wavy gravy has been running a "nobody for President" campaign.

He has some cool slogans. . .

"Nobody can solve your problems."

"Nobody can prevent goverment waste"

"Nobody can end war"

I may still vote for nobody as he sounds like a rightous dude, but Hopkins you are running a good second.

Hopkins for President.

"Listening to the birds chirp will not protect you in a dark alley when you are hit by multiple attackers armed with pneumatice staple guns."

The issue isnt whether M4 rifles work but whether Ken Goods unarmed combat and arresting techniques do.

You could give the most questionable martial artist or fighter an M4 and he could ventilate tank abott but this has no relevance on what he could do with his unarmed skills.

"Marc is feeling pretty good about himself until he elects to attack Ken in his 'cage'. Marc ends up eating the muzzle of Ken's M4 carbine and his now dislodged teeth followed by multiple high speed projectiles from Ken's partners along with 7" knife buried in and about his torso in various locations."

Just the other day I was walking my dog, (the vicious pomeranian "Simon"), when all of the sudden I found myself locked in this cage with a guy armed with an assualt rifle?!. . .

. . .I was thinking WTF?!. . .

. . .Next thing you know this guy with a machine gun tries to ram a muzzle down my throat, and then begins pulling this "7 inch" knife (nothing phalic there*), and starts trying to stab me. . . . . . . ?!

*(Isn't it obvious yet that quite often these kind of sick RBSD fantasy scenarios are clearly repressed homosexual desires)

I thought WTF?! who is this nutter?!

. . .At first I wished I knew Systema, then I would surley be able to deal with this event! But then I just decided to run around the cage in circles. . .

. . . .fortunatly there was this hippie chick there selling braclets and observing the event, she called 911 on her cell and Portland PD was there within 2 minutes. . .(They have great response time here). . .

. . .I was deftly avoiding his rounds. Being scared and psychotic he was shaking badly and fortunatly a poor shot. Also, Simon was distracting him by standing on his hind legs and barking madly. . . .

. . .Portland PD arrived and quickly arrested him for being a wack job. . . . .

. . . I continued on my walk. . . .

. . . .From now on I will watch for those cages filled with machine gun wearing dudes!. . ..

It's very frickin sad where this stuff can take people if not taught, learned, and lived in the right. . (read HEALTHY) manner.

"Listening to the birds chirp will not protect you in a dark alley when you are hit by multiple attackers armed with pneumatice staple guns."

I took the representation of Ken's weapon retention techniqes to task as unworkable and potentially deadly for the officer who attempts them.

Those techniques are no longer on the net as he removed them from his website.

I have long criticized Systema as I find it unrealistic and an inneffective training method.

What forum does this dispute stem from?

Interesting. Though I don't agree with everything he says, Ken does make some good philosophical points from the standpoint of a LE professional. But then, if his unarmed training is Systema (which I have only seen via video clips on this site), then I think he is smoking crack? Nothing about what I have seen makes me think any of Systema's movements could be pulled off against a resisting opponent, in a cage or otherwise.

"Quite a few of the clients we serve have been in gunfights and know B.S. when they see it. If we cannot provide them a reasonable and repeatable set of solutions, then our approach is relegated to the useless pile.So far, this has not been the case as we are constantly adapting to the requirements of these individuals."

I think I remember Paul Sharp telling a story awhile ago of a LE training session he did where a self-defense guru was showing some gun disarms. He was politely asked by the class to demonstrate the disarms against a resisting opponent who had a gun loaded with safety ammo. The guru ended up getting shot repeatedly and with ease by the officers, demonstrating to him that his disarms were useless. The guru was as surprised as any of them, exclaiming something like "Wow, I never actually tried them like that before!"

Paul, forgive me if I slaughtered your story. But in any case, it seems to me the same thing would happen if someone using Systema attempted to disarm a determined police officer. Has anyone had any personal experience with this System? Paul, have you ever trained with this guy? I am genuinely interested to know if my impressions from the net are accurate.



I have two major issues/comments.

1) He is under the assumption that "Sports" or MMAist are incapable or simply don't bother training in anything else. I guess, MMAers are disqualified from training Self-Defense? They can't carry a gun? A knife?

So instead of:

"Marc is feeling pretty good about himself until he elects to attack Ken in his 'cage'. Marc ends up eating the muzzle of Ken's M4 carbine and his now dislodged teeth followed by multiple high speed projectiles from Ken's partners along with 7" knife buried in and about his torso in various locations."

What about this possibility:

"Marc is feeling pretty good about himself until he elects to attack Ken in his 'cage'. Marc ends up eating the muzzle of Ken's M4 carbine, but Ken by improper assumptions doesn't notice that Marc has already drawn his gun and has it lodged in Ken's ear and pulls the trigger."

End pontification.

2) There is no better SPP than MMA/Combat Sports for training "Self-Defense" (cringe).

So there is nothing wrong with training in MMA/Combat Sport if you are into Self-Defense. There's no better way to train SPP, and don't discount a MMAer/Combat Sportsman as a non-weapon wielder/user.

I say you drop it and just ignore the guy. Nothing good will come of it. There is too much tension involved.

True that. I see this becoming a vicious us vs them argument where Clipit Knives, Kubotans and pocket Nunchucks will decide the outcome.


It has been my experience that sometimes people can make techniques work either by the preponderance of their own attributes or the lack of their opponents attributes or just dumb luck. This accounts for a lot of people selling Aikido, etc. to Cops as the Ultimate System for control and defense.

It pains me to see even experienced LE/ Military professionals that although they have paid their dues, the tactics they are selling are highly questionable.

When it comes to RBSD and LE arts and systems that primarily hit pads or work two man improvisational katas, they will work only in as much as the subject will cooperate. Period.

Square dancing and waltzing when its rock-n-roll they are playing just won't cut it.

Nuff said.


"Square dancing and waltzing when its rock-n-roll they are playing just won't cut it."

Awesome quote! about insecure!?!?

I really like what I have seen of Ken's stuff other than his PCR. It is strange to me that someone can at one end understand aggressive realisitc training and at the other use something that is so...well not.

The comments I made which are below are actually from a discussion on Systema in which Ken's name was brought up...

"Ken, I have read a lot of what you have written and I agree with a lot of what I have read. The area of disagreement, and it is a fundemental area of disgreement is with the use of Systema as a part of a viable system of self-defense. I find the training principles fundementally flawed. The demo's you posted of the long gun disarms on your website were unrealistic and seemed more for show than go.

I have no doubt as to your ability in other forms of armed combat as that is what soldiers do.

Soldiers though are not hand to hand fighters, they are people who may need on occasion to use empty hand technique. Though I applaud your service to the country and the dedication to duty you have, I wonder under which circumstances you examined other forms of physical conflict and struggle, and under which criteria.

When PB said "If systema doesn't work, why are VV's guys into bouncing, police work, military?" he brought a good point. Just because someone is in an occupation that invovles physical conflict does not mean they are an expert on the subject. I know many police officers, military, and bouncers who have no idea of what effective self-defense is. I train with them weekly.

You cannot base an argument on effectiveness based on who trains in the system. I know cops who do sport TKD and swear by it, does that make sport TKD an effective system for law enforcement?

Basically from what I have seen Systema relies HEAVILY on pre-supposition, they make you believe something first before they do something. Look at how a systema practioner moves when hit, yet no one else moves that way.

The saddest thing is that law enforcement officers are being taught systema techniques for things such as weapon disarms that could very well get them killed.

I think the entirety of PCR I have seen is dangerous to LEO, it teaches them unpractical techniques which are trained against unresisting opponents.

I will say again I think Ken's force on force shooting training is great. I think his H2H is terrible and may get someone killed in the street one day when an officer attempts one of the disarms he has demo'ed.

His stuff is very Aiki, and I am not suprised that so many internal stylists are so impressed by him and what he does.

If I want to learn how to sweep a house or land an amphibious assault I will go to him. I would never suggest anyone, sworn or not, train PCR for DT.

Further more you have to realize that soldiers do very little H2H, in fact it is probably one of the least trained aspects they have. Which makes sense if you understand the roles soldiers have.

I stopped being impressed by military credentials some time ago when I began to actually meet and train with military H2H guys, with few exceptions a C class MMA fighter would eat them up. Now put a gun in the soldiers hand and that is another story.

I will always publically say that Ken's H2H, especially his gun disarms are dangerous, and may result in someone looking down the wrong end of a muzzle.

Enough of family are LEO that this is serious to me, I will tell everyone I know go see Ken for shooting but run the hell away from his H2H

I have been to Systema classes, everyone there was very nice but what was taught was innefective at best, both the manner in which it was taught and the techniques shared.

When I "sparred" it was a one sided affair with everyone in that club and I only used the simplest of BJJ. Without applying hard pressure people were unable to deal with what I was doing, because unlike them I do train with resistance so I have an idea of how peoples bodies really move and react. When I didn't react the way they wanted they were at a loss as what to do."


Most of the time its just a matter of liability and injury issues with agencies who do not realize that there is indeed a safe and time efficient way to train with aliveness and functional tactics.

Many agencies go to psychology heavy and tactic light systems to assure no one gets hurt training and more importantly to them, no officer "hurts" a subject. Obviously this basically adds up to unnecessarily putting an officer at risk in my opinion.

Pounds of cool verbiage (basically just awareness and common sense draped in neo-combatives psychology 101), specific research (read limited, bias, and partial) and soft work (pads, suits, and cooperative katas) are marketed just right to administrators who quickly see little liability and plenty of activity for their budgets.

Some of the biggest LE / DT systems are completely and utterly based on cooperation though marketed for all levels of force. As soon as a subject "goes bad" it just looks like sloppy and half hazardous groping and dog piling. Much like any system that trains dead, when it goes live it looks nothing like the training.

Bottom line is if their indeed is a system and training method behind said system that reduces harm to all parties involved due to its ability to perform smoothly and defensibly within the force continuum, why wouldn't they gravitate to it? Call me naive, but I really don't think they are aware or believe such systems exist.



I agree. I know at least in California POST approval is damn hard for a course that looks like it involves realistic training where there is the chance that an officer may get hurt while training, or hurt someone else while using it.

I am not a big name trainer, nor do I have thousands of students but I train about two dept/agencies a month and am always shocked and amazed at how new the idea of "alive" training for DT is.

There is nothing greater than the shock they get when they are attacked aggressively and realiticly and yet manage to make what they just learnt work.

Of course there is a middle ground that has to be reached. We simply can't say "ok you two...go fight!" but we can adequately replicate this using drills that involve force on force training.

I really think it boils down to people thinking alive training means MMA training, when it means simply a mthod used to train, not an end result.

One of my first MA instructors was a long-time Navy SEAL, and he told us how he lost two close friends during two separate training exercises. If I remember right, both were during ship-boarding exercises during anti-terrorist training - they got bashed off the side of the ship while hanging from a helicopter. But as sad as this was, the SEALs continue to train this way. They do this because if they trained too "safely", many more could be killed in actual combat. While this is perhaps extreme, I would think the law enforcement community would be willing to risk a few broken bones and black eyes to ensure the effectiveness of their training.


I feel your pain Marc.

The most wonderful thing I discovered since I started teaching DT to my agency back in 99 was that performance was an uncommon criteria for physical tactics programs. Everyone had their own set of moves, developed and refined in their own schools/ dojos/ laboratories but so few had the ability to really open their eyes that there might be something better. Before I took over our program, it was run by a Karate guy who tried to pass off yellow belt requirements as DT. Wrist escapes of all things. 45 minutes of wrist escapes. Oh, the humanity.

I remember reading something on Matt's Q&A page where he was talking about how someone told him that he would not be successful using and maintaining an Alive and performance based curriculum. That people wanted the BS. They wanted mystery and titles and certificates and rituals. I remember hearing some of the same things in my agency. It did not take long before the officers themselves, the ones who counted, spoke up. They are the reason why we now train the way we do and there are quite a few of them who want to keep it this way. I have scheduled two classes next month for our people on ground control and defense. It took abot a week to fill both of them up. Several years ago that would not have happened.

I think I mentioned this during a breakout session at Luis G's last ISR201 course in Florida. You could take the ISR Matrix, leave all the techniques in place but totally screw it up by changing the teaching methodology. The reason it works is how it is trained. People that train for performance pick up on that in the first 15 minutes of a class. Others take a little longer and the rest.....well...

Funny how everyone talks about thinking out of the box but so few actually mean it.