Mark during his service in South Korea, 1987.
Everyone, meet Mark. He served over nine years in the Air Force, and is an expert in scenario-based self defense. His fighting spirit is built into him, from his professional life to his family life.
I went active duty Air Force in January of 1981. The Iran Hostage Crisis was heating up, and so I signed up for the Delayed Enlistment Program about a year before going active. I thought we might end up at war. But the funny thing is, my last duty day was in 1990, less than three weeks prior to the start of the Gulf War.
But during my time in the military, I still got to see much of the world. Nothing heroic, though. I was an Electronics Warfare Systems Technician, and my job was mostly fixing stuff. Three of those years I spent in the Philippines, at Clark Air Base. One year was at Osan in Korea, and then there were a few TDY assignments in Okinawa. When I was stateside, I served at George AFB in California, and my last station was Offutt in Nebraska.
For most of my life, I’ve trained in Martial Arts. I’m a sixth degree Black Belt in Kung-Fu, 4th Degree in Chinese Weapons as well as nearly 30 years of Qigong and Taiji. During my time overseas, there was one incident outside a bar in the Philippines where I’d taken care of two trike drivers who tried to mug me, but fortunately no one got seriously hurt. The event motivated me to keep up my training, and since I left the Air Force in 1991, I’ve been teaching kids and adults full time.
I teach Scenario Based Self-Defense, which is about putting people in an environment where you are about as close to real world violence as possible. You do this by inducing an "adrenalized state" which is a natural occurrence when a person is put under stress— verbal assaults, muggings, robberies, bullies, sexual assault (heck, a minor car accident or argument with a spouse can do that). This often results in the fight or flight response we've all heard of. There is a third "f" that can happen when we get put under extreme stress which is just as dangerous and that is "freeze."
Participants are given boundary setting skills by using posture and words as well as combat skills that are tested on "Bullet Men" who are in full body armor. The student delivers a very basic techniques at a small number of targets on the Bullet Man at full speed, full power in an adrenalized state. It's a major rush and a whole lot of fun. You walk out of this type of training KNOWING you have the ability to protect yourself after just several hours.
I’ve got a fighter’s instinct. Maybe that’s why my son is such a fighter too. One of the most difficult times in my life was when my son Josh became disabled after surviving a hit-and-run car accident when he was just three years old. He suffered a massive brain injury that left him hospitalized for four months.
The car crash Mark's son Josh survived.
The doctors thought he wouldn’t live. Once they realized he would, they surmised that he’d be in a vegetative state. But he surprised them there too. Since the accident, he’s been to over 2,000 appointments, therapies, and treatments. He’s walking, reading, and lighting up rooms with his smile every day. He falls sometimes, he’s on medications for seizures and other complications, and his memory is challenged, but he is still a fighter.
He’s in the eighth grade now, and spends half his day in Special Ed rooms and the other half mingling in the mainstream classes. Teachers love him, and all the kids know him by name. His favorite thing in the world is the Green Bay Packers, and yes, he was a little disappointed with the recent loss to Arizona.
He wants to play for them someday, and I told him he’d have to wait. But hey, you never know how things might work out.