Established in 1998, the International Police Defensive Tactics Institute (IPDTI) is an organization dedicated exclusively to the teaching of empty hand, close-quarter Defensive Tactics to the international Law Enforcement community and the Security industry.

While everyone in today’s World should learn Self Defense, certain groups have exceptional requirements that must be addressed in a truly specialized manner.

Members of the Law Enforcement community (which encompasses City, County, State, Federal, Correction, Military Police and the private security industry) have very specific and unique needs in the area of Defensive Tactics, focusing primarily on controlling techniques, restraint and immobilization, weapon retention and disarming.

The technical material must be consistent with a philosophy that promotes safety and the reduction of liability.

Most “civilian Martial Arts” approaches to Police Defensive Tactics do not meet that challenge and may actually be incompatible with Law Enforcement use of force policies.

The IPDTI was founded by John Pellegrini assisted by several of his Instructors, all with extensive Law Enforcement background and actual street experience.

They conducted in-depth research of existing Police Defensive Tactics courses and training methods, with the objective of developing a new program aimed at reducing officers’ injuries, incidents of excessive force and charges of police brutality.

The research revealed that many of the injuries and the excessive force incidents were a direct result of insufficient or inadequate empty hand Defensive Tactics training.

Today the IPDTI is recognized as one of the most professional and respected Law Enforcement training organizations in the World. We have instructed police, correction and security officers in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Italy, Finland, England, Norway, Bermuda, Ireland, Costa Rica, Spain, South Korea, Panama, Colombia, New Zealand and Japan.


    • Provide the most competent, effective and practical Defensive Tactics training.

    • Make officer’s safety the foremost priority.

    • Limit liability exposure to the officers and their department / agency / company.

    • Train & certify competent, professional Instructors.

    • Foster positive public relations for Law Enforcement / Security in the community by enhancing professionalism and competence.

    • Continue research and exchange in the field of Police Defensive Tactics.

    • Educate Martial Arts Instructors in the specific needs and requirements of the Law Enforcement / Security community.

    • Maintain a professional association (IPDTIA).

Goals: Work on alternative methods to compliment your current defensive tactics training with the objectives aimed at reducing officer’s injuries and reducing possible incidents of excessive force. Many injuries and instances of excessive force are caused by improper or insufficient training in empty-hand defensive tactics. WE HOPE TO HELP WITH THIS by offering continued training for those interested.

Established in 1998, the International Police Defensive Tactics Institute (IPDTI) is an organization dedicated exclusively to the teaching of empty hand, close-quarter Defensive Tactics to the international Law Enforcement community and the Security industry. 

Today the IPDTI is recognized as one of the most professional and respected Law Enforcement training organizations in the World. We have instructed police, correction and security officers in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Italy, Finland, England, Norway, Bermuda, Ireland, Costa Rica, Spain, South Korea, Panama, Colombia, New Zealand and Japan.


If you don’t have to go to the ground why go to the ground, if you have to go to the ground why not be the one standing instead of trying to lock them up with outdated techniques.

Kickboxing student smiling
Our Defensive Tactics program combines the best skills from all martial arts into one easy to learn and apply curriculum.

This allows us to focus on the application and execution of the skills in many difference scenarios, from defense to control with minimal effort utilizing joints locks, wrist locks, arm bars and tactical pressure points to get disired results.

In April of 2005, our officers received training in the techniques offered by the International Police Defensive Tactics Institute by Sergeant Larry Mullen. The techniques proved relevant to the tactical concerns of our department and were enthusiastically embraced by the majority of our officers. The International Police Defensive Tactics Institute program has been incorporated onto our defensive tactics policy.
Thank you for your dedication to the safety of our officers.

Walter K. Vanatta
Chief of Police

IPDTI FOUNDER John Pellegrini’s Combat Hapkido Invades U.S. Military Training

In 2004 John Pellegrini was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. Since then, it’s been tough to get in touch with him because his art, combat hapkido, has become one of the most sought-after systems in the world. That means the master is in demand from New York to California, from Afghanistan to Colombia. In this exclusive interview, John Pellegrini talks about the special aspects of his art that make it work so well for military personnel and law-enforcement officers. Black Belt Magazine

Black Belt: Why is combat hapkido so appealing to the military when many traditional martial arts are not? John Pellegrini: The word “traditional” probably answers the question. In traditional arts, a lot of attention is paid to posture, stance and movement. Everything is done in a way that reflects the traditions and essence of that art. Remember that all martial arts were designed for the battlefield, but it was the battlefield of 300, 500 or 1,000 years ago. There were different weapons and different rules of engagement. Since then, warfare has evolved, and the martial arts that accompany the warrior also must evolve to reflect the new terrain, missions, weapons, tactics, strategies and rules of engagement. So we have to evolve, too. In combat hapkido, we’ve stripped away a lot of the traditional trappings—such as the classical stances and positions. We’ve [kept] the core of the art because basically a joint lock is a joint lock; nobody’s going to reinvent it. We’ve stripped it down to emphasize close-quarters conflicts for modern battlefield environments, and we take into account that when [a soldier] strikes, joint-locks or takes somebody down, he’s going to have equipment on. Black Belt: Is there a lot of individual combat on the battlefield today?.

John Pellegrini: There’s still individual combat. However, the advantage soldiers have is that they’re rarely alone. They’re operating in groups. If someone comes out of a house and attacks you with a knife, there are other soldiers to cover, protect and help you. But what if you’re in a group of three out patrolling, and the other two get shot or step on a mine? Now you’re alone. That happens a lot in house clearing—there may be two or three soldiers, and one of them goes down and then a couple of people come out of the house. That’s when the close-quarters fighting begins. Black Belt: What role does an empty-hand martial art play when so many guns are present? John Pellegrini: People think that soldiers engage the enemy only with their weapons—that every time something happens, the soldier just fires his M-16 and solves the problem. Many times he does, but the mission of the Army nowadays has changed. They do a lot in an urban environment. It’s started to resemble law-enforcement functions. They walk down the street, patrolling open-air markets, or they go into houses to confiscate weapons. Yes, the weapon is the primary defense, but sometimes you’re at close quarters and the person comes from behind or gets right in your face, and it’s very difficult to use the weapon. There’s a second problem: You want to use your weapon, but there are women and children around. You have to be careful because of the bad public relations that can be generated for the United States. You have to have some hand-to-hand skills. I’m not saying that every soldier in the U.S. Army must become a black belt. All I’m saying is that they should get a minimum amount of skill. Take a course in combatives that gives you a few kicks, strikes, controlling techniques and pressure-point techniques so you can take somebody down without the use of your weapon. Black Belt: What should that “minimum amount of skill” include? John Pellegrini: I would like to see every troop learn at least a simplified version of what we do. We don’t kick to the head; we don’t jump and spin; we don’t do anything with big, wide circles. Everything is synthesized with a core of techniques that give them a fighting chance when they’re in close quarters. Black Belt: Which hand-to-hand combat techniques do you focus on for the military? John Pellegrini:The most important use for the hands is to make sure the attacker doesn’t grab your weapon. The second most important use is close-quarters blade defense. Somebody approaches you, maybe to ask for food or information—or maybe you’re interviewing the person—and all of a sudden he pulls out a knife. That’s why you need trapping techniques, basically redirecting the attack and immediately closing the gap and taking control of him. We teach a combination of techniques, like low-line kicking, strikes with the hands and joint-locking with the possible application of pressure points. That obviously doesn’t work all the time, depending on the clothing and other factors. We always encourage striking to the head because it contains the computer of the human body. You want to rattle and stun the computer and take away the vision of the attacker so he can’t see what’s going on. Then you can take him down easily. Black Belt: What if the other person is wearing a helmet or body armor? John Pellegrini:


MATA Certification was authored by 18 different veteran black belts who are also experts in their fields such as psychology, pedagogy, movement science, and communication.

We know that walking into a martial arts school can be intimidating. That’s why Empower Kickboxing™ is staffed with professional instructors trained in modern teaching methods and certified by the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association.

professional martial arts instructors certification


My child is shy and introverted. How will that affect his participation in class?
If there is any common success story from our martial arts program it’s students and parents telling us how we helped their child to “come out of his/her shell.”

We have specfic drills and exercises that are highly effective for helping students take small steps towards a more confident presence.

My child has a very short attention span. Can you work with that?
Little Dragons is our martial arts class for young children. We understand that keeping attention can be a real challenge with this age group.

That’s why our program is fast moving and engaging for the children.

Our instructors are also experts at helping children to re-focus in class until it becomes natural to the child.

My child is not very active and never liked sports before.
It’s all in the presentation, especially with children. One of the strongest benefits of our martial arts for children program is instilling and motivating a desire to have a healthier diet and body.

This may be one of the best long-term benefits of training at our school.

My child has a "my way or no way!" attitude. Can this help?
One of the somewhat magical effects of our martial arts classes for kids is mix of psychology and physiology.

We often think of the mental disciplines of martial arts but the physical disciplines are just as important and emphasized just as much.

Recognizing and resisting urges to act out are central to the discipline of making sure a student is not abusing the training.

That includes developing the self-control not to act out.

My child is constantly fighting with his sister. Are we putting her at risk?
The responsible use of martial arts for good rather than harm is central to everything we teach.

Parents of our martial arts students are consistently impressed with how our training helps to mature the children in different ways and temper control is one of them.

Much of that has to do with a heighten self-awareness to recognize when things are “heating up” and how to de-excalate.”

My child has a history of quitting new activities.
When you enroll your child into our school to help with self-discipline, it’s crucial that you work with the instructors to set clear expectations.

This starts with your child clearly understanding that the first discipline is to come to class twice a week and practice two non-class days.

To help you with that the child psychologists in the Martial Arts Teachers’ Association’s Certification program suggest you be aware of what activity the child is engaged right before getting ready for class.

If they are playing their favorite game, they may be more resistant to shifting attention than if they were cleaning their room or doing yard work. :0)

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