I am using this page as a way to go beyond the usual “about” page and really delve into the circumstances and background of my life that were instrumental in forming the abilities that I now possess. I owe nearly everything to Lao Tzu McNeil when it comes to martial arts but my interest in the warrior way and things unknown and even the unknowable began at an early age.
I have always held awe and felt an affinity for Native American culture that began as a wild kid in the woods of rural Illinois. Hunting, archery, days and nights in the woods began at a fairly early age. I read voraciously everything I could about the “Indians” and had big dreams. Martial arts interest began early with a couple years of Judo and I had an interest in the occult and ancestral spirits. Right at the top of the list was playing Army and I probably would have joined the military early had I not met Master McNeil.
All of the 1980’s I spent deeply involved with Internal Kung fu culminating with fighting in the Tang Shou Tao tournament in Taiwan in 1988 and I continue with what will be a lifelong practice to this day. Through Lao Tzu’s school I met a man who spent multiple tours in Vietnam as a SEAL. I was heavily influenced by him and we trained together for a couple years and he kept telling me that I should have been a SEAL. The stories he told of the things he did appealed to the aberrant side of my nature. My time with him culminated with my attempt to join in the early 90’s with the full support and encouragement of Lao Tzu. I think he thought it would be good to get me away from my bad influences and help me mature. This is the primary reason that I never pursued competitive sport fighting although we were right there at the beginning when the Gracie clan issued their first $100,000 open challenge in Playboy. During the time of my tries at enlistment, the UFC was still in the initial stages of development, I believe, certainly nothing like it is now, but that is yet another story; look for it somewhere in these pages. My desire to become a Special Operations soldier became the focus of my life.
I went to a Navy recruiter and at the time in order to increase enlistment , I assume, the military began writing contracts that held them legally bound, supposedly, to providing the recruit with the opportunity to do whatever job the recruit wanted. The military of course encouraged adherence to the results of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery; your first introduction to the military penchant and fascination with acronyms) but ultimately it was up to the recruit which was the big selling point. I was told that I could receive a contract to attempt BUD/S after boot camp which is Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL training but the first step was the ASVAB and the physical examination. Of course I did not know that a contract was not necessary because the SEAL recruiters went to every boot camp class and offered the chance to try the physical fitness test required to attempt BUD/S.
I was confident in my ability to easily pass that test because I was already trained to the level of physical requirement to pass the Army Delta Force selection standard (the things I did to prepare are some pretty crazy stories in and of themselves with solo ocean swims, running with heavy ruck sacks, swimming in full uniform and boots etc.), I had been an avid and fairly accomplished surfer and I was convinced that I had the mental determination from the pain endured with my Iron Hand training and I just wanted the chance to show everyone and myself that I had what it takes.
I was never great in school, although I was a voracious reader; I just wanted to be outside. I was pretty good at English and writing but I never took the SAT because I did not want to go to college which arguably, in retrospect, was probably a mistake. When I first came out of high school before I met Lao Tzu, I was kind of nuts and my bad behavior continued even while under Lao Tzu’s instruction and I had no interest in more school; it was all about Kung fu and punk rock and getting into trouble, trying to test myself with no real legitimate outlet like the MMA organizations today. Again there are many stories here that the reader should look for like glittering gems of misguided depravity and self-abuse scattered in the sands of this website.
The ASVAB was a little daunting to me; I guess the whole process was just a taste of military life and mentality to come. I remember thinking I tanked it but was surprised to learn that I scored 80%, I believe. I think I would do even better now due to better mechanical aptitude but math was never easy for me past about the algebra level so some preparation there as well would have shown a higher score. But the Navy was more than happy with the results because I guess that 80% is a fairly good score, with most people, that go into the military at least, somewhere in the 50-60% range. I had some issues with my vision with a nearsightedness that was just outside SEAL standards and my age, 30, which was one year over the cutoff at 29. The Navy was willing to give me a waiver for both problems. Next stop, the physical.
What should have been a breeze, the easiest part of the process, ended up being my undoing, along with a lack of knowledge on my part. With what seemed like Teutonic efficiency, an illusion I assure you, the physical examination began. All was well until I got to the eye exam which included a color vision test. We knew from an early age that I had some color deficiency when I would call the green traffic light blue when I was a kid. I also had some issues with shades of green that could appear brown or yellow to me but I could tell red from green for the most part. I failed the bubble chart test with flying colors. This is the test most people are familiar that is comprised with random circular patterns of color that look like bubbles but for the normally color capable this pattern contains a readily discernible number. I don’t think I got one of them right. I was disqualified from attempting BUD/S training but the Navy still wanted me to drive a computer. Since I wanted to kill bad guys, I refused.
Then I found out from other military acquaintances that unlike the SEAL’s at the time (I believe this standard has changed as the Navy’s great wisdom realized how many good guys they were losing with this bullshit requirement since supposedly 80% of the male population has some level of color deficiency) the Army would waive the color deficiency if I could pass the so called red/green falant test, which most of you military guys will be familiar with. I did not know what that was but I knew I could tell red from green, for the most part, so back I went to try to become a Green Beret. All went well until the eye exam, once again. Of course I failed the “bubble chart” test (I don’t know what they actually call it) so I moved on to the “falant” test.
The administrator trotted out a little black box about the size of a shoe box that had three lights like Christmas tree lights recessed vertically within the box and it was wired to a controller that the administrator could use to change the light color and position between red, green and white and I had to be able to tell the color and position. Bear in mind that I am nearsighted and wore glasses at the time but you had to disclose if you were wearing contact lenses so I don’t know if that would have affected the outcome. Regardless I was told to remove my glasses and step back about 20 feet while the box was placed in front of me in a darkened room. With my glasses off the group of lights was just a solid blur with no hope of succeeding where I believe I would have had no issue if allowed to wear my glasses like I would on any normal fucking day which I conveyed to the lab-coat guy. He gave the perfunctory reply of “That’s just how we do it” and I was screwed once again. I left never to return again.
With a little more savvy I would have known that in the Marines everyone is infantry and they have probably the toughest boot camp of all the Armed Services. If I had done well I would have been given the opportunity to go Recon regardless of color vision. Oh, well, I guess it was just not meant to be for me and is just another example though of how my life could have been changed with slightly different choices.
I sought out training in the private sector and through a friend of my mom’s of all people I began training with one of the worlds’ foremost combat weapons and tactics trainers; I met Max Joseph and TFTT. For the next two years I took every course TFTT had to offer. I did not really know what high speed was but they were definitely it; all of them former Special Operations military of one branch or another. Max himself is a Marine Recon, Ranger qualified, Scout/sniper instructor that specialized in counter-terrorism and diplomatic protection. I was working during this time doing private security for a hardcore punk rock band (Plenty of conflict resolution practice) and was just beginning as a climbing rigger for the entertainment industry setting up concerts. It was while rigging that I met an accomplished rock-climber and a high school interest in rock climbing was rekindled. Like everything I do, I jumped in with both feet and climbing became my exclusive focus for the next seven years.
Around 2003 I was running my own climbing guide service but after the Twin Towers fell the private contractor phenomenon was going on overseas and I wanted in on it. I re-established contact with TFTT which had evolved greatly into one of the foremost reactive training schools in the world. In fact Max Joseph was one of three original tactical shooting schools in the country along with John Chapman and Jeff Cooper. I have been training with Max and his cadre ever since, to the tune of over 3000 hours of documented training operations in combat weapons skills, small unit tactics and patrolling, combat field-craft, tracking, survival and VIP protection. Max once paid me the highest compliment when he said, “Doty, you would have made the perfect Special Operations soldier, you are good at a lot of different things”.
It is another long story but I missed my chance to work overseas with a couple of the top companies and I lost touch with the TFTT cadre as I refocused on Kung Fu with a vengeance.
I was fortunate enough to meet an expert tracker, mountain rescue team member, survival instructor and practitioner of native culture who was a student of the well known Tom Brown Jr. I learned much about tracking, survival, sweat lodge ceremony, living in harmony and reverence to the Mother. I helped him organize and run a wilderness survival school until his tragic death in the mid 90’s. The circumstances surrounding this part of my life are like something from a movie and I may not be able to safely discuss it here. I also have 15 years experience in mountaineering and rock climbing and guided privately for several years in the early 2000’s.
I have spent a lot of time wandering, training and honing my skills in different environments, most recently the desert of Arizona. I teach from my home in a well set up studio and intend to open a commercial studio sometime in the near future.