Month: April 2024



It was Easter weekend, so I had time to visit my new martial arts friends, as just described, while waiting for the Australian Federal Police Academy to open on Tuesday April 2. I was kindly greeted at the front gate by both Insp. Steve EVANS and Steve BOOTH. The latter Steve showed me around this facility to watch some Realty-Based Training (RBT) simulations, Taser training, and the gun range. Greg McRAE then took me to watch some of their handcuffing and searching class and then we went to the defensive tactics facility in nearby Fyshwick.

Use-of-force curriculum meeting headed by Insp. Steve EVANS (April 5, 2024).

Today I got a letter of rejection from South Australia in the form of: “We are not in a position to engage in your study at this point.” Maybe the recruits are away?

I find myself struggling to add blog and vlog posts due to my unfamiliarity with anything even slightly technical, not to mention that I am making my digital documentation from my ever-present notetaking and phone camera pics/vids of what I see. I always get back to my motel/hotel absolutely exhausted. I struggle to do but a few short workouts each week (sometimes in mini-microbursts of rest stop calisthenics/stretches. Getting up before noon too really sucks for this long-retired night hawk!

The next day I was up at 0700n hrs again to watch more Taser training (on the newer Taser 7 [2018] with the newest single-barb, multiple-shot capability of the Taser 10 [2023]). It is interesting to note that on August 12, 1993, I received a letter from Tasertron to get information about their product, as I was the VPD non-firearms weapons expert for almost two decades, and I wanted to look at the efficacy of using this tool. Then-Cst. Brad FAWCETT and I pitched the use of this less-lethal weapon to our Emergency Response Team with the ERT members loving it, but the Inspector was totally disinterested in it, given that it was “more tools and training” to deal with. A member from Victoria Police Department on Vancouver Island, Darren LAUR, later picked it up and their Department adopted it. We became followers instead of leaders. I could clearly see that this would be a useful tool that would spare some peoples’ lives under certain conditions. This was proven to be true.

The inventor of this complicated electronic mechanism, Jack COVER, told me over the phone that it was originally developed in the mid-60s as a less-lethal weapon for use in riots (and later for Air Marshal use). Taser International replaced Tasertron in 1993 (now Axon has captured the market) and they have made great strides in further developing this tool for law enforcement purposes.

In any case, there is a strong tendency to rely on belt tools in the AFP, which might be expected given the relatively less frequent number of street arrests that they make. Being Federal police, they are spread far and wide (beyond the borders of Australia, SE Asia in particular) to conduct major investigations. They do have a contracted municipal police service to the Australian Capital Territory, aka Canberra. They too are susceptible to public condemnations arising from Taser use (multiple drive stunning in particular), vascular neck restraints, pressure points use, three-point hold-downs (by kneeling on the back), Figure -4 leg locks, etc., and have multiple levels of oversight to deal with perceived excessive uses of force. Even the 21″ ASP batons (used 53 times last year – including the busting of windows), though a light-weight baton, has come under scrutiny (post Rodney KING). The 26″ Cam Lock Bon Wi is the preferred baton as it needs but one solid hit to get the job done. How much force the AFP uses is kept in tight control within the PROMIS system (Police Realtime On-line Management Information System).

The trainers use Tony BLAUER’s SPEAR system of defensive tactics to deal with assailants. The AFP rely on their Tasers (and other belt tools) given the brevity of their training, so they do not accentuate joint-locking or ground fighting. About 20 of their 60 trainers country-wide instructors spend the 30 days of training going over a wide range of defensive tactics (including firearms, active shooter, driver training, and scenarios). That’s a lot of ground to cover! Currently there are 155 recruits in training. Eddie SHAW (and his son Nick of their “SENSE Corporation”) trains and oversees the use of role players in the AFP training sessions. Like our own JIBC police training program, the AFP recognizes the significant value that players offer in their RBT sessions. Instructors (older police trainers) tended to get injured and sometimes lacked the acting expertise needed to make the scenarios realistic. Role players are a great option to have.

Eddie SHAW and his son Nick take me out to lunch (April 4, 2024).

General observations on current fitness abilities are that recruits are of a weaker generation lacking in sports and life experiences, so recruiters must draw from a pool (now a puddle) focusing on students often living at home, with poor situational awareness, and lacking in interpersonal skills.

I later attended the AFP’s Melbourne in-service training centre hosted by Sgt. Roger WATTS (Wed. April 10, 2024). This new facility (2023) occupies two floors and sports a gun range and a number of basic skills training rooms for its 600-700 members.

Sgt. Roger WATTS and a senior instructor at their new in-service training facility.

Insp. EVANS kindly arranged a visit to the police academy in Melbourne, so off I went to the state of Victoria, after having a farewell with Steve and his family (I do remember from 1986, the magnificent entrance to this facility).

What an excellent host Steve was. His lads were top notch. Many thanks guys!
Friendly Martial Arts Faces

Friendly Martial Arts Faces

My on-line martial arts buddy, Matt D’AQUINO of “Beyond Grappling” fame (from Canberra) put me in touch with the owner of the Goulburn Martial Arts Academy, Craig HARMER, and on Tuesday, March 26, we had a pleasant chat over coffee about the state of affairs in Corrections and martial arts in general. The next night I dropped into his club to watch his class and found it a very positive place to train. His students were very polite and welcoming, which speaks volumes about the instructor(s).

On Thursday, I drove one hour to Canberra and that’s when I received the good news from Insp. Steve EVANS! I had coffee with Matt D’AQUINO, meeting him for the first time in person. He helped buoy up my spirits with his camaraderie and martial arts contacts. I arrived just as the very long Easter weekend was starting, so once again rooms were at a premium, although this time I went upscale to the Mantra MacArthur Hotel. No crappy place for me, thank you.

Matt put me inĀ  touch with Ben TURNBULL (Turnbull Martial Arts Academy) and Mitch LANGMAN (Dark Carnival Martial Arts) in Canberra. I meet Mitch through Eddie SHAW (Sense Corporation – run with his son Nick) who was managing his role players at the AFP, and all three of them attended a two-hours joint-locking seminar I put on at Matt’s request at his club on Thursday, April 4th.

Eddie and his son Nick took me out to lunch that week and we had a great chat about role players and martial arts. The use of role players has long been adopted by the Justice Institute of BC (Police Academy). They are recruited largely from our Police Judo student classes, as they are strong, fit, and can take a beating. They love getting tossed around!

So the martial arts brotherhood made me feel very welcome in these early stages of my tour, especially Matt. Thanks you guys!

Now on to my wonderful AFP academy experiences…

Joint-locking class at Matt D’AQUINO’s “Beyond Grappling” Judo Club., Canberra, ACT, (March 27, 2024)



Shut Out

Shut Out

Well, I was crushed to find out on Wednesday, March 27 that the police academy in Goulburn did not wish to entertain me as:

“There are some public liability issues around us divulging much of our use of force curriculum, which we are very protective of in the current legal environment.”

I mean, if I haven’t spilled the beans about their “secrets” since 1986, I might be deemed to be somewhat trustworthy. I was free though to make up a list of questions, but I could do that from back home instead of taking the show on the road as the Travelling Tactical Trainer. I feel sorry for them for having to circle their wagons because of political machinations and repercussions, rather than being open and transparent about how they do business.

I basically wasted an entire week. I arrived on the previous Friday (March 22) and was forced to stay in a really slummy room in the Alpine Heritage Hotel, which really needs a good bulldozing to fix all its problems. Some festivals were in town so there were no decent rooms available. The next night I slept in my vehicle in an otherwise totally vacant parking lot in a park until 03oo hrs when a large vehicle parked beside me with its music blaring, forcing me to move. WTF? I came back after daybreak and slept for an hour. I did find a great place to stay that Sunday night (Black Sheep Motor Inn).

So, you can see why I was depressed that when I got the word that that I was persona non grata at the academy. Despite this horrible start, I knew that my plan of getting my foot in the door would work, so I fanned out a few more emails of introduction, and by April 2, Insp. Steve EVANS called me up from the Australian Federal Police Academy in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory). To to my huge relief, he invited me to his facility with open arms! What followed was been amazing…