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Wes Doss, LSL US Tour | Photo by Jae Gillentine

Beware of the Self-Proclaimed Expert: Part II

Investing time, money, and lives in the hands of ill-qualified “experts” can be a fatal mistake. In this three-part editorial, Wes Doss helps us with some best practices for selecting who you want to train with.

This is a multi-part editorial.
Click here to read “Beware of the Self-Proclaimed Expert: Part I”.

W

hile there are certainly many outstanding instructors and training organizations, pursuing the development of newer and better programs with worthy intent and a genuine desire for excellence, there are an alarming number of individuals making outlandish affirmations about their personal deadly efficiency and the effectiveness of the techniques they developed. It is typical for these so called instructors to allege very close ties with specialized military and law enforcement organizations, often claiming to be the “official” instructor for the unit or organization. This behavior can only be explained as a deep psychological and social need to sing one’s own praises and use it as a method of excluding one’s self from others. Although this activity is not an absolute male endeavor, one only needs to listen to little boys on a playground posturing, trash talking, and picking fights with each other to discover the prevalence of these issues. In fact many of today’s popular television talk shows, reality based shows, and au courant gangsta rap songs are centered on man’s propensity to shoot his mouth off and ridicule the abilities of his contemporaries.

Many of these self-proclaimed tactical masters openly promote extremely violent training programs and equally violent responses to situations. In their own morality, they often encourage the swift and immediate use of deadly force to any and all conflicts, without regard to intent, the factors of the situation or the location of innocent bystanders. The world of reality today and the world of training, especially for law enforcement, is one of deep public scrutiny. This growing dissection of law enforcement by the public has caused officers and agencies to change their philosophy on training from the “traditional” static training of the past to more progressive methods that address actual needs and problems. These new, more avant-garde methods focus not just on the tactical considerations for the individual officer, but also the safety factors in regards to the public and litigation issues following the application of force. When a law enforcement officer is called upon to use force, they do it to control a situation, not to wield the sword of punishment without consequence. Use of force by law enforcement has a general tendency of upsetting onlookers on scene as well as later on the evening news. Having no real frame of reference for the circumstances, the public is generally dictated by their personal emotions when evaluating these incidents (Meyer 1999). A trainer or training organization that fails to realize these issues is hopelessly ill prepared to conduct training of any real value. Additionally, these “experts” cause a tremendous cycle of damage when, because of their larger-than-life credentials and often-synthetic backgrounds, self-proclaimed experts are viewed as authority figures, especially by the more naïve of their followers. As such, their position of influence and strength lends a staggering sense of validity to their behavior. Further, the self-proclaimed expert often displays a behavior pattern similar to that of our former vice president, in that they want others to believe that they and they alone are responsible for the discovery or invention of a particular item or technique. Like Al Gore and the Internet, self-proclaimed experts lay claim to many popular components of use of force training and are often heard whining, nagging, and complaining about others who “steal” their exclusive material (Dimitri 2000). A point to keep in mind and to never forget is, if the material being taught works, if it’s helping its intended audience, and it’s keeping us folks alive then it doesn’t matter where it came from or who first dreamt it up. Sources for scientific proven information are abundant and everyone has the right to acquire knowledge from any and all available sources. The human body and the human mind are inherently flawed devices. We are definitely a deficiency-laden species and all the ways and directions the human body can move have long been common. No one can re-invent a movement pattern or human reaction any more than they can re-invent the wheel or re-discover gravity. An individual or institution can re-name a “move” or a “technique” and copyright the name, but a move or a technique itself is not copyrightable (Dimitri 2000). If I re-name the isosceles shooting stance and I decide to call it the “advanced triangular” shooting stance, I alter the grip and the position of the arms ever so slightly and copyright the name “advanced triangular shooting stance”. There is nothing to stop another instructor, or even one of the self-proclaimed experts, from using it or changing its name again. When dealing with vocabulary or terminology use, everyone has fair, equal access and the unquestionable right to use the English language. Especially when technical, scientific, medical, or psychological jargon is used and the particular gibberish already exists (Dimitri 2000). The idea that someone can create a new hierarchy, a new set of techniques, and a new “system” is a slap in the face to those who seriously pursue teaching and instructing as a matter of conviction.

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