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Instructor Spotlight: Guro Dave

Updated: May 7


As a retired San Diego Police Department SWAT officer and former Marine with a wide variety of firearms and martial arts experience, I approach training from a somewhat different perspective. Having seen more than my share of violence, I am passionate about helping students prepare for those types of confrontations. We would all like to think that we would never become the victim of criminal violence, but the reality is that bad things often happen to good people.

Although I have studied traditional


Filipino Martial Arts, my classes are focused more on the practical application of strategies and tactics that are simple and effective for self protection in an ever changing world. A better title for my classes might be “FMA/Combatives”, or “Reality Based Self Protection”.


We discuss violent confrontations that are caught on video and use a problem solving approach to figure out how we could avoid them if possible using situational awareness. If we are unable to avoid the confrontation could we deescalate the situation using a nonaggressive defensive posture combined with verbal skills? When this is not an option we discuss simple and effective strategies and tactics that we would be legally justified to use to stop an assault.

We also talk about different levels of force or force options the can be used in self defense situations. If you carry pepper spray would it be an effective force option in a certain confrontation, or would the use of an impact weapon such as a small flashlight be more effective? Criminals usually carry and use weapons either as tools of intimidation or for actual physical assault. These types of predators often work together in groups when committing crimes. Our self protection plans need to be based on realistic approaches to realistic threats.

“Lab Time” is the next phase of each class. I have students problem solve a specific scenario and apply various strategies and tactics to see if they are effective. A technique that works for one student may not work for another based on size or strength, but an effective option can almost always be discovered with a little more coaching and experimentation. Hence the title, “Lab Time”.

Firearms Training (AirSoft) Shortly after opening Ronin Academy at its current location in the summer of 2019, Professor Dang and I discussed the possibility of developing an indoor dry fire training program. We both view the us of a defensive firearm as a martial art. Naturally, there were safety concerns, but over time we instituted protocols that allow us to conduct the program in an extremely safe and productive manner.

Our goal for the dry fire training program is to introduce law abiding citizens to the safe and responsible use of their weapons. The Ronin Academy Firearm Safety Course utilizes a variety of safe indoor training tools and techniques. We have recently introduced the use of AirSoft Weapons and have designed and built an indoor training range that is both safe and challenging.

Students can enroll in an 8 week Firearm Safety Course where they will be taught the safe and responsible use of a Glock semiautomatic pistol. No prior experience or training is required. Many of the past students have never fired a real handgun and do not own a pistol or rifle. The classes are one hour long and are usually conducted on Saturday afternoons.

Upon completion of the Firearm Safety Course, students are allowed to participate in the Firearms Training Classes that are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Each week an additional skill or topic will be covered to help advance the student from a basic to a more advanced level of proficiency and confidence.

What I Hope To Bring To Ronin Academy When asked what my role as an instructor is at Ronin Academy, I usually reply, “I’m not sure, I just show up there 4 days a week and run my pie hole”. Hopefully, I am able to provide the students with the “Reality Based Self Protection” application of all the skills they are learning in the other classes. If you enjoy training in Kajukenbo, Boxing, Muy Thai, and Jui Jistsu and want to learn a little more about the legally and morally justified use of those skills in an armed confrontation, we got you covered. We don’t sweat or work out as hard physically in the FMA/Combatives or Firearms Training Classes, but we do try to “complete the package” of your Ronin Academy experience.

Be Safe Out There... Guro Dave

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