My Name is Tony.
Three areas of great importance to me are Self-Defense, Emergency Medical Care & Firearms Use & Safety, and for years I have been teaching, training or otherwise serving others in these disciplines, usually for free. Why such interests? Perhaps it has to do with my background. As a child, I traveled over much of the world living wherever my father’s work took him, i.e. across the United States, Southern Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific, and West Africa. All of these places exposed me to often profound differences in culture and expectations, and several of these places were (and are still) unstable and unsafe.
Let’s start with Martial Arts & Self-Defense. Looking back on childhood, I feel great appreciation for the experiences I had traveling the world, bouncing from school to school, continent to continent, culture to culture, and language to language. But at the time, it felt more traumatic than anything else. Who knows how many times I cried when I found I was leaving my friends to go to some other place I’d never heard of, and my homesick dreams were of friends left behind. I was small with few social skills and perpetually out of place as “the American kid,” and found myself continually on the losing side of fights and violence.
Ironically, each time I returned to the US for a period, American kids didn’t know what to make of a quasi-foreigner like me. Eventually, I got sick of it. I began training in self-defense using Bruce Lee and Kwai Chang Cain of Kung Fu as my idols, and after a few years, met my goal of being able to defend myself. However, this need was replaced with what has become a life-long love and appreciation of everything that martial arts bring to one’s life, including friendships, shared interests, intellectual stimulation and growth, camaraderie and a special type of peace few other things do. I trained to the level of 1st-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, added kickboxing and basic knife work to the mix, and competed locally, then regionally, and finally nationally. In the 1990s I began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) which I practice and teach to this day.
My training Firearms began in 1984 when I stepped onto the iconic yellow footprints at Parris Island, SC, to begin my 12-year journey as a U.S. Marine. Ten years as a U.S. Navy Reserve Corpsman followed, and I wrapped up my military career with 3 years in the U.S. Army National Guard. The quarter of a century of military service allowed me to be stationed in or visit many places across the continental USA, Hawaii, Europe, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Republics of Lithuania & Georgia, and participate in Operations Desert Shield & Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Baltic Challenge ’98, and Operation Rescuer / Medcuer 2003 (RM03). During my time in the service, I was introduced to many types of weapons ranging from our venerable service rifle the M16A1 (and its cousins the M16A2 and M4), the M249, M60, M240 and M2 machine guns, and the Colt 1911 and Beretta 92F pistols. I qualified expert many times on both the pistol and rifle and took great pride in my shooting skills.
It was in the Marines where I first encountered a shooting death. A Marine guard unintentionally shot his friend in the head, shocking the rest of us. How could this happen, especially with supposedly well-trained Marines? The answer was sadly simple. The two were on guard duty, bored, and goofing off and the time came for shift change. The off-going Marine dropped the magazine to his recently issued Beretta 92F 9 mm service pistol and, thinking it was safe, aimed it at his friend’s head while laughing and said, “I’m gonna kill you!” You may have noticed I did not call it an accidental shooting. It wasn’t: A true accident happens by chance or unpredictable or unknown cause. Yet, this awful case of negligence with a firearm wasn’t the first and would not be the last. Even my 2006 deployment to Iraq began with a notable negligent firearms discharge which became memorialized with images like the hand to your right decorating nearly every bathroom stall and porta-potty on the base. The NRA’s 1st two safety rules apply to everyone, military or civilian.
It was during my military service where the value of Emergency Medical Care first became evident to me. In the Marines, I grew to admire the Navy Corpsmen who were always assigned to us. Corpsmen have always been highly regarded and “prized” by Marines, and we took care of the Corpsmen who cared for us. I used to hang around some of the Corpsmen and learned enough skills to where my fellow Marines started nicknaming me “Doc.” In 1992 when I got off active duty, I was exposed to Emergency Medical Services through a friend who was a Firefighter-Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Her world seemed fascinating because it combined the excitement of “emergency” situations with medical care, so I began my training as an EMT that very same Fall. The training seemed perfect as a compliment to my first two passions as well because, after all, Martial Arts and Firearms do come with their own potential list of risks, and emergency medical skills seemed to be the perfect “yang” to their “yin.”
Putting it all together: In December 1992, I earned my 1st certification as an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B). I had supported myself in the process by working full-time as a college financial aid counselor, delivering pizzas on weekends, and teaching Self-Defense classes weekday nights to kids under the now-defunct company Young Olympians. Teaching Young Olympians kids brought me into weekly contact with hundreds of children and their parents, but I had not considered the work to be permanent so, when I completed my EMT training and began job hunting to work as an EMT, I was stunned when hundreds of children and dozens of parents approached me, asking me to give up on my plans to leave for work as an EMT.
They wanted me to stay and continue being their Sensei Tony. To encourage me, as well as counter my concerns about financing and location, the parents had already researched and obtained funding to lease a facility for me to use as my new school. I was touched. Beyond touched! Yet I had just finished EMT schooling and had no experience. The only way I’d become skilled as an EMT would be by working in the “field,” so left to work full-time as an EMT. By 1994 I’d obtained the required experience and training to begin the year-long Paramedic program, and in 1995 I graduated number one in a class from which fewer than half graduated. I began volunteering as a firefighter with Riverside County Fire Department. In 1996, I transferred from the USMC Reserves to the U.S. Navy reserves where I began training as a Corpsman. My Paramedic training complemented my Corpsman training nicely, and I worked at Naval Hospitals and Clinics from California to Naples, Italy, as well as on my mission to the Republic of Georgia. On the civilian side, I earned my Associate’s Degree in Emergency Medical Services, began working as a full-time Firefighter-Paramedic with the Federal Fire Department in San Diego, and a year after that, with CAL FIRE in the Inland Empire of Southern California.
The events of 9/11 brought back my innate desire to serve, especially as things over there seemed to get worse each year, but could not get an assignment. In the meantime I had begun work and advanced training as a Flight Paramedic with Mercy Air Service (now Air Methods), and had transferred from the Navy Reserves to the Army National Guard. The Army had a critical need for Combat Medics and I was deployed again overseas, this time to Iraq as an Army Combat Medic (68W03). Following my deployment, I returned to the USA, rehabilitated from some injuries (non-combat) and took back up with my work in the civilian world, i.e. CAL FIRE and Mercy Air. I 2009 I retired from the military permanently, began working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management, and obtained my initial certification as a Certified Personal Trainer via the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). In 2012, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree, and in May 2015 I completed my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from AT Still University.
Where I am Now: In September 2016, I retired from the Fire Service, and now currently teach for the Riverside Community College District’s EMT and Paramedic program, work part-time as an ambulance Paramedic for AMR Hemet of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley, teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Carlos Lopez at Eagle BJJ while also continuing my own training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu based self-defense with the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA, volunteer with Women on Target, a program that teaches introductory classes to Girl Scouts and any women who want to learn, and operate this website. After being asked numerous times for my non-existent website and non-existent business cards, I decided to formalize my passion and services by establishing this website. It is intended to serve as a resource for those who desire or need the services I can provide. Over time, as demand, interest, time and energy allow, the website and business will adjust accordingly.
Helping me in this endeavor is my bride and the love of my life, Jennifer. Jennifer is still working full-time as a Fire Chief and is also an experienced EMT and a Law Enforcement Officer.
In conclusion: Life-saving skills, whether in self-defense or emergency medical, are rarely needed. But when an emergency arises, it does so without warning and you no longer have a choice. OmniSafe Training & Education is here to provide you with those skills.