Sexual Predators in the Martial Arts
September 13, 2018
The difference between a rapist and a murderer is that in the end, the murderer has the common decency to put you out of your misery.
Pretty bold statement? I acknowledge it as such, but it comes after too many instances of working with people in and out of the criminal justice system that were victimized on at least two levels. On the first level, a person has had the sanctity of their body violated by a person that at some level perceives it as their right and privilege to take for themselves the most sacred things belonging to another person. Those things are their dignity, their self-esteem, their peace, and their ability to trust their fellow human beings, among others. Victims in many cases are also victimized by our criminal justice system, the second level in this discussion, They are looked upon with distrust and their stories are torn apart over and over again, thus forcing them to perpetually relive these moments. A murder victim does not have to endure this. Their misery, while horrific, is behind them.
In my years ensconced in the system, sexual crimes present with a no win situation in terms of social, moral and philosophical discourse. Sexual predators roam our neighborhoods every minute, eluding detection. They cause irreparable harm to women and children that will have to be endured for the rest of their days.
Sexual crime addressed by the criminal justice system also has a dark side. False accusations can have a devastating effect on the life of a person. I once sat in a trial in the early stages of my career in which a detached casual observer of evidence would conclude that a reasonable doubt existed in this case. The accusations involved alleged molestation of two girls less than five years old. A conviction ensued, and he would later die in prison. On one occasion I had an enraged parent demand that as a judicial official, I levy charges against a young man for having consensual sex with his daughter. Under the laws of the state, the two teens were of legal age to consent to sexual intercourse. The point here is that the legal system can be weaponized. It makes an unthinkable tragedy that actually happens in numerous cases even more heinous.
As a father and a husband, my number one job in life is to ensure the safety of my wife and child. As a self-protection instructor, my number one job is to give my students and clients the tools to prevent victimization. In the event of the unthinkable, my number one priority is to give that student the knowledge, skill, and ability, to survive that encounter by any means necessary.
The martial arts “industry” is largely unregulated, meaning that anybody claiming to have a skillset can open a business and teach people to defend themselves. The merits of regulation notwithstanding, the open nature of martial arts and self-protection is fertile ground for sexual predators. Sadly, I have an experience with this.
Over the past few days, I have happened across a few articles in which martial arts instructors have been accused of sexually abusing their students. The event in question in which I was indirectly involved took literally years to unfold. In full disclosure and to be prudent, the names of certain individuals in this series of events have been either altered or withheld.
As an instructor, I take several precautions to ensure the safety of my students (ESPECIALLY women and children) all the while protecting the integrity of my practice. The insurance policy we carry has a special provision pertaining to sexual abuse claims. I wear a body camera at all times when I teach. At no point do I, or any of my fellow instructors, find themselves alone with children. If I find that this has happened, I will disassociate with that instructor, and if they are working for or on behalf of me, they are immediately fired. The safety of all people in my self-protection practice is my primary concern.
In the early 2000s, we had an instructor we shall call Ronald visit our dojo. My instructor became his judo coach, and he was welcomed by all of us. Over time, and as everyone got to know him, it became known that Ronald was gay. No one cared. He was an excellent martial artist, a competent instructor, and a nice guy. However, storm clouds were gathering.
Over time, we began to notice some odd occurrences. Ronald would have late night training sessions with preteen and teen boys. He would spend nights at the school when training carried on late into the night. We also began to notice that small items would go missing. In my case, a set of hand wraps was missing from my locker. The final straw was an accusation made by a visiting student that was in his late teens. It was alleged that Ronald made sexual advances toward him on multiple occasions, Ronald was immediately dismissed and asked to leave. It would be several years before I would hear about him again. He simply vanished. .
One afternoon several years later, a longtime friend of mine and martial arts instructor we will call Frank called me inquiring as to the skill level and character of the aforementioned instructor, Ronald. In the presence of two witnesses that heard the conversation, I bluntly told Frank that under no circumstances should Ronald be given a key to his school or be allowed to teach there. My warnings went unheeded.
Ronald was a groomer. He would befriend young men, gain their trust, and develop relationships with them. He would maintain these relationships until they would achieve legal age in order to consent to sexual relationships. It would be at Frank’s school that two lives would be forever changed.
The same pattern of events that took place at my instructor’s school began anew. Late night training sessions were happening at Frank’s school. He had taken special interests in two young men, even coaching them in martial arts tournaments. At some point in time, one of the young men had an emotional episode and revealed what had happened to him to his parents. They immediately called Frank and law enforcement commenced with an investigation.
Ronald would ultimately be convicted of sexual offenses against minors. He is now a convicted felon. If that label is not bad enough, he is also a sex offender. He has to register with state authorities. Anytime he changes residences, he has to notify local law enforcement within a specified time period. As part of his sentence, he is banned from entering martial arts schools within the state.
There are two points to be made here. First, we have to acknowledge that these types of people exist and that they are active in our communities. Sex offenders that have been identified and convicted are indeed a danger to the community. As martial arts instructors, and as citizens in general, we must recognize though that these predators that have yet to be identified are far more dangerous. We cannot deceive ourselves and believe that these are isolated incidents. As parents, martial arts instructors, teachers, or anyone that is concerned with the safety of our young people, we must look critically at those with whom we trust our children. Trust should be earned.
The second point here is that this could have been avoided. In no way do I blame Frank for the actions of Ronald. I do hold Frank accountable for not doing his due diligence. I do not want to seem arrogant, but had he listened to what I had to say regarding my experiences with Ronald, these two lives may not have had to endure this level of trauma.
As marital arts instructors, we hold a unique place in the lives of our students across the spectrum of the human experience. I hold my instructor in a reverence that is equaled only by the love of my Dad. We are not gods, but a martial arts instructor takes on a role in the life of a student that places him or her on a pedestal. We are flawed human beings, but it also must be recognized that we are held to a very high standard in the lives of our students and our peers.
These cases can be prevented. They should be prevented. They must be prevented.
Until next time, train and study hard. Stay safe!
Welcome to the Dirty Bird Blog
August 22, 2018
A blessing of living in the modern world is that we have instant access to information that at one time was a mystery to us all. A curse of living in the modern world is that we have instant access to information that at one time was a mystery to us all. A coin is a coin, in that they all have two sides. What side you choose to focus upon is up to you.
Welcome to the Dirty Bird Blog. If you are offended by blunt speech, ideas that are short and to the point, and concepts that make you wiggle uncomfortably in your seat, you are in the wrong place. If you are open to seeking ideas that will challenge your ways of thinking and how you see the world, you will feel right at home here.
My name is Dr. David Corbett Everidge. I am a martial arts teacher and coach, self-protection coach, speaker, blogger, and author. I have worn many hats in my 45 years on this planet. In past lives I have been a judicial official and a military intelligence analyst. I have worked in and around prisons. I am a perpetual student in formal and informal modes of education. I have stood on both sides of the law, formally and informally. I am proud of the things I have accomplished in my life. I am equally not proud of many things I have done in my life. In many ways, I am just like you. The differences between you and I may lie in our respective abilities to acknowledge our successes and failures and openly admit them, nakedly, before the world.
My goals here are many, but I have five main purposes during our time together. I seek to challenge your way of thinking on violence and self protection….notice I did not say “self-defense.” For instance, many law enforcement officers, trainers, and self-defense experts implore you to “think like a criminal” in order to defeat the criminal. To which I respond….. bull%$#*. The vast majority of law enforcement officers and citizens….mostly good, decent, moral people….. do not have the capacity to enter that world no matter what their experience level may be. It is one thing to attempt to think “like a criminal.” It is another matter to think “as a criminal.” There is a profound difference. Step outside of your comfort zone. Whether you agree or disagree with me is not the goal of this blog. I do not seek to create disciples here. I seek to challenge your thoughts and to stimulate your critical thinking skills in a world where most people dare to tread.
I seek to advance the profession and lifestyle of martial arts, self-protection and the broad field of security by means that are traditional and non-traditional. My ideas and practices are unorthodox. I do not follow industrial best practices. I do not seek the approval of my peers. You may disagree with much of what I present. That is fine. What I seek is to promote thinking, peace, and serene living. You may find a concept that I offer that does not fit with your profession or lifestyle…BUT… if it forces you to look at that concept and find your own path, then my work here has been a success.
I want to make you uncomfortable. Please do not misunderstand me here. My goal in making you feel uncomfortable is to allow you to grow. If you prefer traditional versus modern martial arts, or vice versa, we will seek to discover why. You will be exposed to violence in its most raw, purest form. A failure of the vast majority of modern and traditional self-protection and martial arts systems is their willful rejection of teaching raw violence to their students, how to recognize it, and how to overcome it. You will be introduced to an entire new way of thinking, such as encountering someone who is concealing razor blades in their necktie. The discussions will not be an endorsement or rejection of these lifestyles and their associated tactics. They are presented to let you know that they exist, how to recognize them, and how to overcome them.
I hope to learn from my readers. I spend the vast majority of my time teaching others, from private students to employees of multi-million dollar corporations. In every instance, I have learned from my students as they learn from me. We all bring different experiences in life coupled with our world views to the training floor. When I teach, I also learn.
The overall goal of my life’s work, including this blog, is to prepare you to make the best of a potentially horrible situation in your life. I am an unapologetic Christian, and I pray constantly that what I teach will never be put into practice. I am also a realist that understands that we live in a fallen, corrupt world. My goal is to assist you in living in peace while recognizing that our surroundings may not be a place of serenity.
This blog will cover not only violence education, martial arts, and self-protection. It will look at many things in life as a whole from time to time. There is one exception: I will not discuss politics. I don’t care about your political leanings or ideologies. If you have something of value to teach, I will learn from you. I hope that is a two way street. If not, I wish you the best.
I welcome questions and comments regarding the ideas offered in this blog. If you have a specific situation or concept that you would like me to address, please email me or contact me on social media. By helping each other, all benefit. I can be found on Twitter and Facebook at @dirtybirdphd, as well as LinkedIn. Please reach out; I am here to help.
Until next time, everyone stay safe!