Dear Forum Readers:

I recently read Mr. Blauer's thread DECEPTIVE TACTICS and the ‘rant' in PERFORMANCE ANXIETY.

In the DECEPTIVE TACTICS thread, Mr. Blauer alludes to reading about some recent copycat behavior. I was one of the officers who brought this to Mr. Blauer's attention, so I felt I should post my position and opinion on this forum.

In the last couple of months I have noticed incidents where 4 individuals imply that ‘their' system is based on an innovative concept based on the ‘flinch response'. All groups implied through their writing that incorporating the 'flinch' was unconventional and it was presented as somewhat original. One individual was personally trained by Mr. Blauer and yet doesn't even mention him in his article. Three others mention the flinch as well, but don't reference Mr. Blauer either.

Personally, I'd like to think that most progressive trainers in the martial arts & DT world know who Tony Blauer is. On the martial art side, he has appeared a half dozen magazines covers, has given hundreds of seminars around the world and has appeared in over 100 magazine articles & interviews. Mr. Blauer has taught at the national ASLET conference for over a decade, as well as at the Canadian Use of Force conference and countless other U.S. based tactical training conferences. He has also been featured in SWAT, Tactical Response, Police Marksman, Law & Order, his writing and other concepts on the ambush were a portion of Calibre Press' Street Survival seminar & workbook for years. He has done for the self-defense community, and even more for law enforcement, not just in the U.S., but worldwide, as well.

For those new to this forum and new to the SPEAR, the science of converting the flinch during an attack & counter was refined and developed by Tony Blauer. His method is called the S.P.E.A.R. System (Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response). And his research on how the 'flinch' can be used during combatives dates back to 1988.

My issue isn't with the copycats necessarily, although I find their lack of honor and integrity interesting. My issue isn't with helping secure Tony's place in martial and DT pantheon. Those who have trained with him know he's regarded as a Tier 1 trainer. My real issue is with liability; something those police officers that read this forum can relate to and it's something every serious self-defense instructor and student of self-defense should understand as well. I have a concern ‘for' the students of those instructors who superficially copy ideas from videos, from articles, from websites. Where is their substance? Where is their research? Where is the sweat equity that allows these individual to teach this information? In the law enforcement community we need to justify a training procedure. We need show the methodology and be able to show the legal and/or medical logic of how & where a tactic applies. The notion that someone feels that they can copy some of Mr. Blauer's expressions and teach it without having gone through the actual instructor certification course is to me a huge liability.

Who am I to say this? I have been a martial artist since 1984 and have 16+ years as a full time police officer and SWAT operator. I am also a certified S.P.E.A.R. System instructor and have fully integrated the system within my department at the DT & SWAT level.

Let me tell you personally and professionally, the 'flinch' can save your life. Literally. The 'system' of teaching how to incorporate the flinch into a protective tactic is vital. However, if it is taught incorrectly; if integral parts of the research are missing, it can become a liability. That is what concerns me most. Ethics aside, the students of these instructors are at risk and that is why I am writing.

These recent ‘versions' of Mr. Blauer's research fail to grasp the deeper aspects of the system and the important research that makes the S.P.E.A.R. System so effective. If you have really studied with Mr. Blauer you would recognize the flaws in writing and logic in these articles and essays.

Let's take a mini refresher on what happens during a real flinch: When 'we' are surprised or startled by an incoming violent stimulus, the "instinctive" reaction is to move away from danger. Moving away from danger suddenly involves an immediate contraction and recoil. The motion is very fast and bypasses the cognitive brain (new research links the flinch to spinal reflex, which isn't even hardwired to the brain). As the brain recognizes the survival flinch it then instructs the body/mind to move (perhaps jumping away, covering up, ducking, and so on.). This sudden movement will change your balance and the position of your stance. Depending on how violent the initial assault is could even trigger a primal/fetal reaction. Therefore, the contention that you can go from flinch to favorite move (complex motor skill) is both erroneous and possibly a dangerous premise to teach without the proper education.

Very often in our train-the-trainer courses we have well-meaning trainers who miss key points about the startle-flinch. Training in this system is quite different from the conventional DT format & self-defense class. But that doesn't make the 'flinch conversion' unconventional. In reality, everyone flinches, what Mr. Blauer has done over two decades is synthesized it and created a training methodology for conscientious trainers around the world so they can attend a course and scoop up 20 years of data and drills in 5-days.

In Mr. Blauer's certification courses, a tremendous amount of time is dedicated to the rationale, the physiological and the evolution of the iterations. Quality time is spent differentiating from the primal gross motor options and logical evolutions into complex motor skills. Those wishing to be certified must review writing and video in preparation for the course. Then they must undergo a minimum of 40-hours of training, write a full lesson plan, answer detailed questions in a take-home exam and then this information must be submitted and an independent party reviews it. In other words, you cant ‘buy' a SPEAR certification.

(to be continued)

Converting the flinch response, according to Tony Blauer's research, is also affected by a variety of stimuli like angle of attack (in the case of an edged weapon, the attack can be a slash, stab, lunge, etc. which would affect tactical follow ups), distance is a factor, pre-contact cue awareness, and of course we would need scenario specific skill and ultimately mind-set. To assist the trainer & student in appreciating that the attack impacts the counter, Blauer has developed a unique survival-learning concept called 'Reaction/In-Action Model' (A=SAP) or Awareness is relative to and affected by the Suddenness, Aggression and Proximity of the attack.

Put all of this research on behavior, physiology, neurobiology and combat athletics together and you have ‘friction' and that is why so many trained tactics fail under pressure.

There is much more to the S.P.E.A.R. System research, but here is another vital point to Tony Blauer's research on startle/flinch conversion: unless, in the unlikely event that the attacker 'stops' or hesitates after the first lunge, slash, grab, there will likely be several micro-flinches as you weather the 'ambush'. That is where the liability lies: the laypersons misinterpretation that you simply 'flinch' then do you favorite move, wouldn't work unless you were assaulted exactly the same way every time. This is an example of the danger of imitation vs. innovation. (PS: You wont see this level of detail on these 'copycats' web sites or letters because you wouldn't know this unless you were at a course. Of course now the ‘cat' is out of the bag, so we should see this new information up shortly).

None of the refutations in this letter could have been written without studying Mr. Blauer's System. I felt compelled to write in about this, because there is far more to the 'flinch' than meets the eye. The system is a missing link in officer survival. In the words of Bob Willis, noted trainer, expert witness and former lead instructor for Calibre Press' Street Survival Seminar, "Tony Blauer has developed a system for the fight before the fight we all teach. His system addresses the problems before arrest & control tactics can be applied. Its the first original material I've seen in 20 years"

I'd like to wrap up with another Blauer concept, and that is of the THREE FIGHTS. FIGHT 1 is between YOU & YOU, it's your mind-set, fear management and self-coaching systems. FIGHT 2 is between you and the opponent (You generally need to win Fight 1 to perform effectively in Fight 2) and then, in our community, there is always FIGHT 3: You vs. the media, a lawsuit, etc.

We all know in the LE community how important sources, BIOs, bibliography, instructor credentials, a system's lineage and ultimately, the trainers personal certifications all play important parts in the DT curriculum, especially for FIGHT 3 when a court of law subpoenas training records. So the more a system is diluted the less effect it will have. After reading these other essays on the ‘flinch' I felt that some of the notions about the flinch were erroneous and as a trainer I was compelled to address that. In modern DT & combatives, when startle/flinch research is mentioned, generally Tony Blauer is mentioned too and I didn't see any reference to him from these individuals.

In closing, I wish letters like these didn't need to be written. But I have invested too much personally & professionally in the SPEAR System to stand by and stand down while others just take from it.

The bottom line comes back to liability: a situation that creates a "true" flinch would be an ambush and therefore a very dangerous situation. Someone teaching without the correct foundation could endanger you; significant omissions and misinterpretations and misrepresentations can negatively impact your safety while training and or in the street etc. Remember, (as a Blauer Maxim states) "In your fight, you're point!" Buyer Beware!


J.T. Goodman, Lieutenant
High Point Police Department

PS: If you would like to know if an individual is in fact qualified to teach SPEAR System fundamentals, email Blauer Tactical Systems and they will confirm whether that person has in fact graduated from their SPEAR System Instructor course.

Dear Forum Readers,

I apologize for the double postings that have happened. Unfortunately, I was at work, surrounded by a lot going on, and in my haste, along with my computer abilities, double posted.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause readers, and sincerely hope it doesn't detract from the importance of the issue posted.

Thanks, JT Goodman

you can edit them. Click on EDIT at the top of your postings.

As someone who has first hand experience with this manner of malign proprietary injustice, I can only empathize with Tony's plight. I don't find plagiarism flattering, and unfortunately have an active legal department as a result.

Legal battles syphon crucial resources which are better directed towards ongoing research and development of the product and services line. Can you imagine what greater brilliant innovations Tony would be able to contribute to our world (in such a critical time!!!) if his time, energy and resources were dedicated not to defending his proprietary interests from copy cat thieves and dopplegangers, but rather 100% dedicated ongoing R&D and coaching???

The reality of the matter is that only the consumer can decide the quality of the source material. And the consumer can only make an informed decision if those adherents to the source become verbal evangelists of the source of the proprietary material.

Bottom line: the best way to help Tony is to do, everywhere and every time appropriate, exactly what J.T. is doing.

Well said and done.

Scott Sonnon

Chief Operations Officer

RMAX International

I recall watching a programme about the people who broke the German Enigma codes in WWII, in which a man was talking about Alan Turing, the man who invented the computer. To paraphrase what he said;

"The difference between a genius and people who are just 'very clever,' or 'really clever,' lies, I think, not simply in their level of intelligence but in the level of abstraction in their patterns of thought. Turing was like this. Sometimes some of the answers he came up with were very simple, and once we were told the answers all of the 'very clever' people, (and we
were all very clever around there), would say, "That's so obvious," but we couldn't think of it before he did, and wouldn't have thought of it if he hadn't been there. And it was often in the simple things that we found the most profound breakthroughs. But the 'really clever' people were the ones who can admit to themselves, "I could never have thought of that."

Theft, (and plagarism is just a type of theft), is a distasteful crime, particularly when the person with his hand in your pocket was a person you thought was a friend or fellow warrior. It is especially ditasteful when the only price you ask for your property is the acknowledgement of where you got it. I imagine in some way that when they are introduced to your concepts
they say to themselves, 'That's so obvious,' and then go on to say to themselves, 'I could have thought of that.' I guess that for some of them it is only a short journey from there to saying, 'I thought of that,' or, 'I would have got around to it eventually.'

I guess it takes a 'really clever' person to realise that, no matter how apparently simple your concepts might appear, that we couldn't have thought of that without the help of a creative genius of a different level of abstraction, or maybe it just takes somebody with integrity to admit that they didn't.

Of course I do not believe that Tony's system is simple. The more I study it, the deeper and deeper I plunge down the rabbit hole. When I try to track down
the intuitive leaps of thought he had 10, 15 & 20 years ago I find scientists on the cutting edge 'proving' what he said. When I study his drills and training philosophy I find 'emotional learning' is now the cutting edge of skills learning, and that only now, with the benefit of MRI, are people learning how to take advantage of it; struggling to get to a
place he left many years ago.

I have only personally met one genius in my life as well as a lot of very, or really clever people. Tony is the genius. He doesn't have to disguise his
credentials by claiming to be trainer in this, with the permission of so and so, who's contracted by this organisation; when all you mean is that you've
done some low-level contract training for the Ministry of Defence for people considered so unimportant that they aren't worth giving training in-house. Tony has Operators paying money out of their own pocket to train with him. Maybe they are 'really clever' people, or maybe they just have integrity, or maybe they just know the real McCoy when they see it.

I have taken a great deal of comfort reading some of the threads messages posted here. There is integrity amongst true warriors.


As a certified Personal Defense Readiness (PDR) and S.P.E.A.R. System trainer under Coach Blauer I've heard him mention and discuss integrity and honesty as a part of the process of instructing and educating our students in every course I've attended. In the courses those in attendance usually nod their heads and understand where he is coming from.

Coach Blauer usually follows it up with another comment, "I know I can't stop you from teaching it in your schools, departments, to your friends, team mates, or loved ones. All I ask is that if you do teach, share or pass on the information that you do it correctly and with integrity. Mention that it is a drill, information, or concept from Blauer Tactical Systems."

I've never heard, experienced, or witnessed anyone else offer the same when it comes to their system/material. And I say this after an extensive process of researching the systems and programs out there. What constantly impresses me about the system and the man behind it are the ways that he puts himself out there to continually refine and improve the already great materials he has. It is truly a testament to his respect for the operators and end-user.

Without hesitantion, I can say that the materials Coach Blauer has researched, developed, and passed on to those he has taught has increased my chances of, or been the main factor in increasing my survival both at home and overseas; as well as those that I have shared the materials with.

I can not remember the source of the quote used at many of the Blauer seminars, but the words are, "An expert is someone who memorizes other people's material." The numbers of people who claim to be "experts" who teach their versions of what they understand the PDR & S.P.E.A.R. System materials to be should perhaps take that quote to heart and decide if they are substance or subject matters experts.

Jason Dury
Herndon, Virginia

I remember having a polite but pointless conversation with a trainer, (well known here in the UK),about the SPEAR system. He just refused to see the point of the SPEAR; of protective actions. As far as he was concerned, if you were switched-on you would never get ambushed! He just couldn't/wouldn't look beyond the SPEAR as a technique. He couldn't acknowledge protective offence as documented in 'science of the sucker punch,' etc. To him Tony was a one-trick-horse.

He was a clever man, well experienced and thoughtful, but he seemed to have progressed to a certain point and refused to look any further. I was very puzzled as to why he wouldn't even look at the material.

Perhaps this is how copy-cats rationalise; taking the
information means not acknowledging their personal failure to listen in the past to what Tony had to say. What price to listen? As a wise man once said, "Bad information doesn't displace good information." And before I get into trouble, that's one of Tony's :-)

Jim Keenan


 This was a blast from the past...ahh the memories  :-)