Moving out to Colorado from Pennsylvania has been an exciting mixture of stress, responsibility, and opportunity. One aspect of my life most effected has been my martial arts training.

Back in PA I had a very steady schedule of both teaching and learning at my instructor’s school. Of course, when you move across the country that week-to-week exposure is somewhat compromised. As a result, I had to be very proactive in not letting my training slip into a state of dormancy. I felt I had two good options for keeping myself engaged:

1. Find some students and start up an Okinawa Kenpo program.
2. Find opportunities to expand my experience.

thinbluelineIn time I knew I could potentially do both, but trying to take on too much right away would have been an overwhelming mistake. After some careful consideration I decided on option #2. While exploring potential schools in my new area I stumbled across something very interesting. My county was advertising an auxiliary program connected to the Sheriff’s office known as the Community Safety Volunteers. Unlike a typical neighborhood watch, these “CSVs” were a much more integrated part of the law enforcement process and actively helped deputies out on patrol. I was intrigued, to say the least.

Motivation for Joining the CSVs

I’ve been an instructor of martial arts for 12 years (student for 18) and have always taught on a volunteer basis. Helping people grow and keep themselves safe is a potent reward in it’s own right. However, I’ve never been a soldier or policeman or bodyguard, jobs that empower a person to take an active role in populace protection. This CSV opportunity seemed like an ideal fit for someone like myself who operates a business outside of martial arts but still wants to contribute.

After reviewing the training and responsibilities for CSVs I knew it would be a great way for me to learn, grow, and give back.

The CSV Curriculum

Training for the CSV program is more intensive than I initially expected. Since my county is putting volunteers in marked cars and in uniform they must provide training to match that level of visibility. Of course, since CSVs are not full fledged officers they cannot carry deadly weapons and do not receive training with them. However, they do provide over 11 weeks (multiple days a week) of hands-on learning with officers regarding law enforcement, self defense, community safety practices, patrol, and more.

It’s important to distinguish that we as volunteers will not be kicking down any doors or busting any drug rings. In fact, “Dirty Harry” antics are one of the Sheriff’s biggest fears with the program, and why the selection process for CSV recruits took over a month. Our job is just as the program name suggests – help improve law enforcement visibility and do our best to enhance the well being of the community.csv_knee

As of right now I am only about 1/4 of the way through the academy. However, we’ve already had some interesting classes on ethics, history, etc. Two of the most notable classes for me as a martial artist were verbal judo and basic law enforcement self defense. Verbal Judo sounds a little tongue-in-cheek but they actually provided some interesting concepts for argument deflection, deescalation, and compliance. The self defense portion involved techniques that would be very familiar to most martial artists, except they put a high emphasis on verbal commands in addition to physical technique. Powerful verbal commands really aid in compliance and, should anyone be filming the situation, clearly indicate the intentions of the officer or citizen who is attempting to defend themselves (remember, onlookers may not really know who the victim is and who the perpetrator is).

More to Come

In the midst of all my new learning I am making sure not to lose too much momentum in my Okinawa Kenpo Karate and Kobudo or my kenjutsu. However, I am thankful for the chance to expand my personal experience and grow as a martial artist.

Any valuable lessons I learn will be posted here on the blog, so please stay tuned and ride along with me!