Verbal Judo Instructors

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Doug Haig

Vice President & Senior National Instructor Trainer, the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Douglas J. Haig joined the institute in 1991 at the personal request of Dr. Thompson and began his “Under Study” work with “Rhino” Thompson in earnest. Possessing a style of training that complimented his own, George chose Doug to travel with him and team-teach all of his Instructor Classes for the last three years of life. Doug’s sense of humor was invaluable during the years George battled throat cancer and is incalculable still. His presentation style of injecting humor, excitement and thoughtfulness into each of his training session will ensure George Thompson’s memory will never fade. In addition to teaching hundreds of his own training session, Doug worked together closely with “Doc” they created the Verbal Judo “Nuggets” audio series, still available for sale today. Doug Haig brought to the Verbal Judo Institute a background of over thirty years of skill in police work and Law Enforcement and Military training experience. As a valuable member of “Doc” Thompson’s original Verbal Judo Team his insight has helped shape and refine the Verbal Judo program and will continue to do so well into the future.

Joel Francis Biography Photo

Joel Francis

National Director Instructor Trainer, US , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Joel possesses extensive experience in adult training and education. During his 20 year career with the NYPD, he trained officers in Tactical Communications, Interacting Effectively with the Ridership/Public, Defensive Tactics, and Firearms Safety and Proficiency. Having being trained to teach Verbal Judo by Dr. George Thompson, he served as the Commanding Officer for NYPD’s Verbal Judo Training Unit, where he taught the powerful Art of Persuasion. He was also the lead lecturer for the implementation of the NYPD’s Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect Program in 1996.

Joel served for 2 years as the Chief of Education and Training for the Baltimore Police Department (2003-2004) where he successfully instituted a “Uniformed Sensitivity in Action” (USA) program, which incorporated civilians into the annual in-service training process by generating dialogue on such sensitive issues as racial profiling, police profiling, and how negative interactions with law enforcement affect children. As an adjunct Professor at John Jay College, he taught “Police Supervision in a Multiracial and Multicultural City”, and also taught Speech at Monroe College. Additionally, he has attained an in depth understanding of Campus Public Safety while an Assistant Director for both the Columbia University and Monroe College Departments of Public Safety. He has trained both business and educational professionals in Customer Service.

Joel is a National Associate for the Verbal Judo Institute. He holds a Master’s of Science in Management, with an emphasis in Leadership, and presently conducts seminars for law enforcement, security, educational institutions, customer service representatives, government agencies, hospitals, and private corporations throughout the United States. As an avid student of the martial arts since 1974 he brings the martial arts philosophy and energy into every classroom to present powerfully informative programs.

Curtis J. Smith Biography Photo

Curtis J. Smith

Senior National Instructor, US , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Curtis was first introduced to Verbal Judo in 2001 while working for Oregon State Parks. He attended an Instructor Course by Doc Thompson . . .“it was the most interesting edge-of-your-seat training I had ever had” Curtis recalls. As a result, he helped to incorporate it as the cornerstone of the enforcement program for Oregon Park Rangers. Over the next 17 years, he was lead Verbal Judo and Defensive Tactics Instructor, teaching hundreds of staff, and leading a cadre of park instructors. The program helped keep park officers safe, professional and effective in virtually any situation.

Given his unique training style and non-police background, Doc asked Curtis to join the Verbal Judo Institute as an instructor several times before his passing in 2011. “Realizing the great loss, and the gift Doc had given the world, I knew it was time to help carry his legacy” reflects Curtis. In 2015, he began working part-time as an Institute Instructor with Doug Haig. Following his 32-year retirement from parks, Curtis now works full time as the Senior National Instructor for the Institute.

He specializes in training government agencies, Native American/First Nations, Private Security, EMS, Health Care, Education, Business & Industry. He has trained front-line customer service staff through executives, and customizes classes according to the audience.

Curtis provides a fun, interactive, challenging, humorous and thought-provoking experience in every class. Verbal Judo is not “flavor-of-the-month” training, it’s transformational, it can change and improve the culture of an organization.

Background –
• Born in LA, grew up in a gang/violence urban setting
• Became cowboy by ranching and riding rodeos in remote areas of Oregon, Nevada and California.
• Worked for the BLM as crew boss fighting fire and other forestry projects
• Private Building Contractor in Willamette Valley employed 3 crews
• 32-year Oregon Park and Recreation Department career (Ret.) as Ranger, Park Manager, District Manager, Region Operations Support Manager, and Agency Ops Training Manager. Worked various positions from the coast as Beach Ranger to the Idaho Boarder.

Personal – Overall, my goal is helping organizations and individuals achieve excellence.

Michael Manley

November 11, 1952 – January 17, 2016

Previous Vice President and National Trainer for the Verbal Judo Institute, Michael Manley passed away on January 17, 2016. Mike aka Verbal was taken from this world too soon and is survived by his wife of 32 years, 3 boys, 2 grandchildren, a brother and a sister. Mike will be greatly missed by The Verbal Judo family. Mike was a police officer in NYC for decades when he was first introduced to Verbal Judo. As a result of his hands on experience on the streets of NYC and the years of following Dr. Thompson around the country, Mike became one of our top associates. He brought mastery to the classroom as a result of his passion for Verbal Judo and his ultimate goal of keeping cops safe.

Before his retirement from NYPD, Lieutenant Manley created, staffed and administered the Verbal Judo Training Unit of the New York City Police Department. His duties included Verbal Judo training of 15,000 Police Officers, Detectives, Supervisors, Executive Staff and Civilian members of the NYPD.

After gathering additional experience and credibility in the classroom, he developed into one of NYPD’s most valued instructors. Prior to moving into the private sector, he assisted in creating the internationally renowned Courtesy Professionalism Respect (CPR) program. The program utilizes Tactical Communication, a Verbal Judo technique, which allows police officers to generate cooperation and defuse hostility while treating people with dignity and respect.

During his tenure as Vice President of Operations for The Verbal Judo Institute, Mike coordinated and oversaw the training conducted by many Associate Instructors. He also conducted training courses himself for law enforcement, first responders, security departments, and customer service representatives, to name a few, throughout the United States and Canada.

Mike was passionate about his work, and was a driven and motivated speaker. He was an honest and loyal associate, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Mike will be deeply missed.

May you rest in peace.

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Steve Wopershall

Senior National Instructor, the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Steve has the skills and the ability to adapt to audiences with real-world knowledge for how to useVerbal Judo. His background in police work and with the U.S. Army has given Steve insight in how to apply operational standards with effective communication to get the right results.

Steve was the second person brought into the Verbal Judo family in 1990, meeting George after mandated to attend Verbal Judo course taught by George. Labeled as a “Bad Boy Cop“ by his police department, Steve sat with 172 other cops later striking up a conversation with George that grew into a friendship which lasted Georges life.  Steve and George together developed the concept of the VJ Katas, which are still used when testing student knowledge.  Because Steve was a Registered Nurse with a Psych background, George asked him to develop the VJ Course for hospitals, and Psychiatric Institutions.

Steve also continued his career in the Army, retiring only recently.  He developed a VJ course for the Coast Guard, and the Consolidated Brig at Miramar California, and the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton.  Steve has worked with the Wounded Warriors using VJ tactics as a treatment modality, while on active duty from 2005-2010 when he retired from the Army.

Darcy Penock

Darcy Pennock

Director, Canada , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Darcy holds a Criminology degree from the University of Alberta and a Police Science Diploma from Grant MacEwan Community College. He has been a provincially appointed peace officer since 1992. Darcy is currently employed as the Community & Crime Prevention Coordinator at the University of Alberta.

Darcy delivers a dynamic, high-energy presentation, based on Dr. Thompson’s philosophy of ‘Entertainment’. Darcy was originally certified as a Verbal Judo instructor by the University of North Florida in 1999. Darcy then provided tactical communications training to staff and students at the University of Alberta for the following six years.

In 2005, Darcy was appointed Director, Verbal Judo Canada. Today, Darcy provides Verbal Judotraining to thousands of law enforcement professionals across Canada.  Darcy also travels from coast to coast providing Verbal Judo courses to all levels of government, educators and healthcare professionals. He also travels extensively across the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. Under Darcy’s direction, Verbal Judo Canada now has offices in Edmonton, Ontario, Atlantic Canada and shortly, Quebec.

Darcy’s strength has hinged on his ability to successfully apply tactical communications techniques not only in one’s professional life but also in one’s personal life. The skills used to calm an angry client or diffuse a difficult staff member can also be used during challenging family situations. Darcy empowers his classes with a skilful mix of insight and humour, something he jokingly refers to as ‘entertrainment.’

Darcy received a Police Science diploma from Grant MacEwen University in 1987 and then graduated from the University of Alberta in 1992 with a B.A. (Criminology) degree. Darcy has worked in the criminal justice system for twenty years. He currently resides in Edmonton with his wife and three children, Grandma Betty (and a dog named Buddy).

William King

William King

Director, Australia , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Verbal Judo was introduced into Australia in 1993 by Will King, who at that time was a sergeant with the Western Australia Police Service, and held the position of Senior Instructor with the police Tactical Training Unit. Unable to find any specific training in Australia in relation to tactical communication, Will traveled to the USA at his own expense and completed an intensive training course with the founder of Verbal Judo, Dr George Thompson.

Inspired by the credibility and power of the training in communications, on his return, Will introduced Verbal Judo to the Western Australia Police Service. After 2 years of training, studying, and utilizing the material, he returned to the USA and spent several months studying with Dr Thompson to further his knowledge and expertise in Verbal Judo.

“If only I’d had Verbal Judo 20 years ago,” was one of my initial thoughts whilst sitting in my first class with Dr Thompson back in 1993. In fact that’s a comment I hear regularly throughout my courses. At last, I had found a system that works – under all conditions, with all people. As a life skill the specificity and scope of Verbal Judo is immense. I can tell you, it saves a lot of worry, heartache, and stress. If you have the opportunity to attend, or your organization arranges averbal judo course, DO IT!” – Will King, Director

In 1995, Will was awarded the position of sole Australian associate and trainer for The Verbal JudoInstitute, Inc. USA, and commenced offering Verbal Judo courses and seminars to organizations and businesses throughout Australia under the business name ‘Verbal Judo Australia.’

In 1997 Will left the Police Service due to the popularity and increasing demand for his courses and seminars in this unique training, and became the Australasian Director on behalf of Dr George Thompson, the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute Inc, USA. Verbal Judo Australia is the sole provider of Verbal Judo training throughout Australasia.

Will has been invited as a guest speaker for training seminars throughout Australasia and the USA, and the subject of local and national newsprint articles and the current affairs program “Today Tonight” in Victoria. Over 20,000 people have received this training nationally.

William King

Trevor Lawson

Director, Australia , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Trevor was introduced to Verbal Judo in 2011 while in his role as the Security Training Coordinator for a Major Victorian Healthcare network. Trevor was trying to find a communication system that would equip his team with the right skills and strategies they would need to deal with the many difficult and violent situations they face on a daily basis.
After studying all of the books and literature on Verbal Judo, Trevor took the next step and attended a training session with Master Trainer and then Director of Verbal Judo Australia, Will King and was blown away by what Verbal Judo had to offer those that have to communicate with others on any level.
The Verbal Judo system not only assisted his Security workforce in gaining the cooperation of the difficult and aggressive, but also gave other frontline staff the knowledge, skills and self awareness to modify their behaviour when interacting with public under stressful conditions.

As a frontline Security professional with over 20 years experience and an instructor in Management of Aggression strategies and customer services skills, Trevor knows that the Verbal Judo principles work. His passionate, motivated and dynamic approach to teaching will provide your team with the skills they need to do their job safely and professionally.
As a student of the Chinese Martial Art Wing Chun, Trevor knows first-hand how the ability to give way to another’s energy helps in both physical and verbal conflict.
Trevor has conducted training sessions across a wide variety of areas, including: education, local Government, Health care, compliance, customer service, banking & security as well as many more…

All sessions are conducted in an informal, interactive and enjoyable environment to ensure all participants get the most out of the experience.
Trevor was trained by Will King, who brought Verbal Judo to Australia in 1993, and in 2016 took over the role of Director of Verbal Judo Australia after Will’s retirement.


Don Gold

Director, Africa , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Based in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa and having taught Verbal Judo in many African countries since 1994, Don was trained and certified in the USA by Verbal Judo Founder, Dr. George Thompson.  Involved in defensive tactics training for over 40 years with 25 years of police service, Don was a founder member of the SA Police Special Task Force and their first handgun & unarmed defensive tactics instructor. An experienced investigator, undercover & close protection officer and IED technician, he was also chief police reservist in the KZN Midlands with the rank of Lt. Colonel.  As Director, Minimum Force Institute of Africa, Don presents Verbal Judo, conflict avoidance, resolution & management and Flashpoint! gunfight survival courses to government and private sector clients, including municipal, provincial and national police agencies, nature conservation bodies (World Wildlife Fund and SA Wildlife College, Kruger Park), casinos, universities, schools and SA Airways.  A lifelong exponent of Kimura Shukokai karate with more recent exposure to eastern grappling, blade & stick systems, Don teaches confrontation avoidance techniques based on natural instincts and skills. He has coached many SA practical shooters, including 1998 USA IPSC Champion, Clint Rafferty.  Chairman of the 2013 Africa Policing Summit, Don more recently gave a presentation on police officer safety to the SA Parliamentary Police Portfolio Committee. He has written articles on defensive tactics for local and foreign publications and travels extensively both to learn and to teach.

Bo Munthe Biography Photo 2013

Bo Munthe

Director, Sweden , the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Bo was originally trained and certified by Dr. Thompson and continues his work in Scandinavia to promote the Verbal Judo daily. His skills as a presenter are enhanced by his martial arts background to truly create a Verbal Judo Martial Art of Mind and Mouth Harmony philosophy.

After spending 19 years in insurance and banking businesses Bo Munthe went in to full time Martial Arts training as a professional instructor. He started his Martial Art training 1958. He is nick named the “Grandfather of European Ninjutsu” (today known as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu).

Bo introduced this ancient Martial Art to the following countries; Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Holland, Spain, Greece, England, Scotland and Ireland between the years of 1975 – 1985. He travelled numerous times to Japan for training in the Grandmasters dojo. In 1985 Bo was awarded Bu-Fu Yukosho in Gold from the Grand Master for his diligent work of spreading the art of ninjutsu. Bo holds the grade of kudan (9 dan) in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. He is also graded to kudan, 10 dan in Jiu Jitsu and 10 dan Tai Jutsu and awarded the title Soke, all in 2005 by Jiu Jitsu International. From the Swedish Budo federations he got the highest award for his work in Swedish Budo, 1997.

Bo has been working since the mid 1980’s with violence prevention for the working groups in jeopardy of threat and violence in the workplace. He has founded his own system, called VAKSAM®, as a tool for creating safe workplaces and work environment. He is using his more than 50 years of Martial Arts experience to create mental awareness, body knowledge, harmony for and an awareness of security for staff and employers.

Michael Freeman Biography Photo 2016

Michael Freeman

Instructor, the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Michael Freeman began his career in law enforcement as a Criminal Investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and was hired by the ODEQ in September of 1994 as a regulatory inspector in the Hazardous Waste program. Mr. Freeman helped build the agency’s criminal investigation program shortly thereafter, in addition to assisting with the formation of the Oklahoma Interagency Environmental Crimes Task Force.

Mr. Freeman met Dr. Thompson in 2006 at a conference in Boise, Idaho, and saw the value of Verbal Judo not only for law enforcement but for anyone who deals with the public on a day-to-day basis. He subsequently became certified as a Verbal Judo instructor, adapted the program for environmental regulatory agencies, and since then has taught the course all over the country to a variety of audiences.

Mr. Freeman holds an Advanced Law Enforcement certification from the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, and teaches an accredited continuing education class on environmental crimes several times each year. He is a certified Equal Employment Opportunity investigator, a Certified Computer Examiner (CCE®), a member of the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners, and has spoken around the country on various environmental and law enforcement topics. He is President and owner of Trilogy Financial Solutions, LLC, an Investment Adviser registered with the Oklahoma Department of Securities, and is a financial counselor trained and certified by nationally-known author and radio talk show host Dave Ramsey. He is a first-degree black belt in American Tae Kwon Do. Mr. Freeman lives in Moore, Oklahoma with his wife and two children.

Mike Siegfried Biography Photo 2017

Mike “Ziggy” Siegfried

Instructor, the Verbal Judo Institute, Inc.

Mike “Ziggy” Siegfried is a dynamic speaker who focuses on class involvement and adult learning concepts. He is known for finding the latest cutting-edge videos, data and content and integrating them into his presentations. Through this engaging approach, Mike delivers the tried and true concepts of Verbal Judo in an exciting and insightful manner which explores the connections between Verbal Judo and principled based policing. Mike was mentored in Verbal Judo by Senior National Instructor Steve Wopershall over the course of several years. Mike will be forever grateful to Steve for his support and friendship.

Mike is the primary instructor for the California specific Tactical Communication Instructor Course authorized by the Verbal Judo Institute and the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Mike serves as a subject matter expert on POST tactical communication committees. Mike has spent the last 25 years working as a full-time peace officer in San Bernardino County, California. He is currently assigned as a patrol Sergeant in Fontana. Mike is a published author in Police Magazine, the FBI National Academy Associate Magazine, Police Recruit Magazine, and Campus Security Magazine.