Pat & Norm Hood
by Gila Hayes
In this month’s Networking column, the space in which we get to chat with friends and supporters all across the nation, we speak with 11-year Network affiliated instructors Pat and Norm Hood, owners of Defensive Solutions in South Bend, IN. If you enjoy streaming video,there’s a slightly longer video version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0mCxJ1xzEc .
eJournal: Let’s introduce you by asking about your backgrounds in self-defense skills and how you came to be instructors.
Pat Hood: I came to this because of Norman. As a military policeman and early-married, he introduced me to weapons and I enjoyed it, and I shot better than he did sometimes. We decided that we needed to start a business and it was important that I be a part of that because of the lady’s point of view. It has been just an incredible journey. We’ve made a difference in people’s lives and that’s what’s great.
eJournal: Norm, what about you, sir?
Norm Hood: I grew up shooting with my dad, as I’m sure is true for a lot of Network members. I still have my dad’s .22 rifle. I joined the Army when I was 19 and they made me a military policeman. I’ve been carrying a gun on my hip since I was 19 years old. I’m 70 now; I’ve been carrying a gun on my right hip that long. We retired from the Army, and I went right to work for the Alaska State Troopers. I was also teaching firearms on the side. I have been a defensive tactics instructor and pepper spray instructor, baton instructor – all of those.
In 2011, we decided to move to South Bend. We wanted our own business and started with, “Let’s just teach a couple of classes.” That expanded while going to our church, when we asked, “OK, so what happens if there’s problem at our church?” We started exploring it and created our business and started teaching from there. Now it’s church security teams, business safety awareness and ladies’ self defense. Now, it’s not only handguns, it’s rifles and shotguns and I teach a martial art. We’re also traveling quite a lot.
eJournal: I noticed your website’s mention of “the Martial Art of Shooting,” Hojutsu-Ryu what’s it about and how does that influence your curriculum?
Norm Hood: We have a regular group of Hojutsu students. Think of it as a modern martial art for modern times. Our founder was an Army vet – a Vietnam veteran, Alaska State Trooper lieutenant – now retired – and a long-time martial artist, who blended a number of things into a legitimate martial art that is based on some karate fundamentals.
Hojutsu started about 2001. The training that we do with handguns is the focus of our art. We’ve had 27 people involved in shootings with handguns and there have been no errant rounds.
The art has us practicing a lot and that’s really the key: we practice, but the other thing that we know is a firearm is not always going to be the answer. In fact, it's probably never the answer to a self-defense situation. What we do know is you might need pepper spray, you might need other tools or better yet, we spend a lot of time talking about awareness in every class.
eJournal: Maybe we fail to define “martial arts” broadly enough. I’m wondering, how expansive can the definition of martial arts really be? The material you provided me about Hojutsu included use of modern weapons as well as use of body weapons and TASER®s and pepper spray, whatever the person can have. How far can we stretch the definition?
Norm Hood: To show you how broad a spectrum it is, when we start a new student, they start as a white belt as they would in karate. A Stop the Bleed class is one of the first things that we teach them, along with the protocols that go with conventional martial arts (if there is such a thing). When they go to the range for the first time, they’ve already had some first aid training. From there, we go into drills striking a mitt and from there we get into pepper spray. We use self-defense techniques with a Jo, basically a short staff, and we incorporate a TASER®.
At the same time, we’re still teaching firearms safety and fundamentals. Our first kata is done with a training pistol combining martial arts skills – striking, kicking, blocks – with drawing a pistol, pivoting, and drawing and turning 180 degrees. We include weapon retention and weapon takeaway techniques in that first kata. So that’s how broad our martial art is.
eJournal: I had wondered if the Hojutsu track at Defensive Solutions runs separately from defensive handgunning. If I signed up as a student for a defensive handgun class, would I concurrently be starting in Hojutsu or could I do one or the other?
Norm Hood: You could do either. We do a regular defensive handgun, urban rifle, and shotgun classes. You can do that separately. You don’t have to participate in Hojutsu. If you wanted to come in and say, “Okay, I want to just do a Stop the Bleed class,” then you could join us and get that training. If you just wanted to learn to shoot with us, you could, or we do regularly scheduled handgun classes. I regularly schedule two-hour practice sessions. For example, we are doing one Tuesday, and that session is going to just be handguns. So long as you’ve had some formal training you can come in. I’ve been at this long enough that I know what kinds of drills we should do based on who shows up. You have a lot of different options with what we are doing.
eJournal: I’d like to hear from you, Pat, and learn more about your part in making all of this work.
Pat Hood: My part is to be eyes and ears for Norman and use my intuition because to a certain degree I can anticipate some issues. I’m there for ladies who are more comfortable speaking with another lady. We have been there; we can use the same language. What do you look for as a parent? How do I keep my child safe when there’s a weapon in the house? Those kinds of things are very important to all of this. Being in a church is very important to me, as well. Keeping those parishioners safe and helping them and their children.
A long time ago when I started shooting with Norman, this wasn’t my choice, but it’s become my passion in some respects, in that I feel that we need to take care of ourselves. As a female, I can’t always depend on someone to be there. I need to be well-instructed and capable to defend myself and my family. And it’s safety, safety first, safety always.
Norm Hood: One of the things that Pat didn’t mention that is extremely valuable on the range is she’s left-handed. I’m right-handed. Whenever we have a left-handed person on the range, Pat’s right there so she can show them how a left-handed person does it instead of someone seeing how a right-handed person is doing it. We’ve also done a few classes where we do team tactics. It starts with something as simple as how Pat walks on my left side since I’m right-handed and carrying a gun on my right side. She’s left-handed, she’s carrying the gun on her left side. We don’t inhibit one another’s draw stroke.
Pat Hood: We are a team. When we go to a restaurant, I know where I sit, and I know the reason for it. I know where Norman sits and the reason for that. We’re all watching the door in case something happens. It’s always in the back of your mind; you get to a point where you’ve done it for so long that it’s just second nature.
Norm Hood: And it’s not that Pat just defaults to my skill set …
eJournal: No, but Pat used the important word when she said “team” because on successful teams, each player has an equally critical role that she plays, that he plays. It is not one of them telling the other one what to do. When Pat said, “I know where to sit,” I’d like to emphasize that she knows the rationale because she’s been part of that decision. It’s not one telling the other, “Here’s what you do.” It’s not that at all.
Pat Hood: It’s always kind of interesting because he relies on my intuition, as well. If something just doesn’t feel right and I can’t put my finger on it, I’ll tell him, and we leave.
eJournal: It takes a lot of guts to trust your intuition enough to express I don’t feel right in here when we don’t know specifically what’s wrong.
Norm Hood: We stress a lot of this in class. I’ll tell the guys, you need to listen to the ladies in your lives because they just feel things differently than we do. Guys, you need to allow them to express that. That is addressed in every class that we do. If it is a ladies self-defense class, we tell them that; if it is a defensive handgun class and there’s a couple there, we tell them that.
eJournal: What take away would you like Network members to remember from Pat and Norm Hood?
Norm Hood: Get training. A diversity in training is fine. Go to other people. See what other people are doing. Talk to people, there are so many other solid trainers out there.
Understand that you can’t just go buy a handgun; that’s what people seem to focus on. They don’t look at other techniques. One of our Hojutsu techniques is the utilization of a cane. I can take a cane anywhere in the world, so I always have some type of tool with me. Having other tools also means we may not get in trouble by utilizing a handgun improperly.
People will buy a handgun, they’ll take one class maybe, and it’s like they think, “Okay, I know everything there is to know,” and the gun goes in a closet or a drawer somewhere and they never do anything with it again.
Seek out training. It is not cheap, but if something goes wrong it’s a lot more expensive.
Pat Hood: You need to have a plan and play the “what ifs.” Talk to each other. What are we going to do if? How do we take care of this?
eJournal: Words to live by! Network members, Norm and Pat are in South Bend, IN. It’s worth traveling to study with them and check their website because Norm said they’re traveling, too, so they might even be coming to a community near you. It would be worth your time to get to know them. In closing, thank you, Norm and Pat, for sharing your story with Network members. We need what you’re doing.
Pat Hood: Thank you. We are passionate about it.
Learn more about Pat and Norm Hood and opportunities to train with them at http://defensivesolutionsllc.com .