I first met John Benner around 1990. I was president of the Ohio Tactical Officer’s Association and John presented at the OTOA’s annual training conference. As the years went by, I continued to run into him at training events, and in 1993 we partnered up to complete our state’s required Defensive Tactics Instructor Program. John is a big, lumbering man who moves slowly and deliberately; I’m a skinny guy who never stops moving. I discovered that John was not susceptible to some of the pressure points and strikes we were being taught, while I was felled by every technique presented. It made for a very lopsided week. Regardless, we became friends, and while sitting around talking one evening, he told me about a training school he was developing that he had bought land for and was wondering if I would be interested in working with him. I was involved in my job, raising kids, going to school events, paying bills and was new to writing articles, so I never pursued his offer.

Tactics for shooting from cover and out of harm’s way are drilled home at TDI.

Years went by and I continued to see John at events and heard how his business was growing. The first article written about his school, the Tactical Defense Institute (TDI), appeared in Combat Handguns magazine, which led to national recognition. Today, TDI is one of the top five training schools in the country, with classes filling months in advance. TDI strives to build the complete combatant, offering a wide variety of courses, including hand-to-hand combat, knife defense, the use of a walking cane as a weapon, and tactical and precision rifle applications. The staff at TDI can also build custom courses to fit a particular need like they did for the Drug Task Force I once commanded. After watching this unit conduct a raid, I knew they needed help with both their tactics and techniques and John built a course just for them that worked very well. In addition, they liked the training—a huge feat for a bunch of veteran cops.

Innovative Training

John pioneered a hand-to-hand combat program called Close Quarter Personal Control (CQPC), which at one time was part of the Ohio DT Instructor Course. This combination of strikes, kicks, throws and limb manipulations is easy to learn and teach. It’s also been proven in the field. The TDI knife defense course is built around the gun-shaped TDI knife as built by Ka-Bar, but it will work with fixed or folding knives as well. Expandable batons and walking sticks (canes) are not forgotten, and their use is explored through courses designed by TDI staff members, as is ground fighting—a likely position in any confrontation, guns or not. If you or a friend is injured, the TDI Field Emergency Medicine Course can help stabilize an injury or illness until help arrives. Taught by real doctors, this TDI program is one of the most complete courses of its type and runs in a very time-efficient format.

Customized force-on-force training is important at TDI and it is incorporated wherever possible. Here a student takes cover behind a vehicle.

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I first met John Benner around 1990. I was president of the Ohio Tactical…