Although there were many similarities in the content, the lead instructors could not have been more different.
John Murphy of FPF Training is loud and high energy. You often hear him before you see him. His booming voice, which he calls his “superhero power,” precedes him. Although he served 10 years in the USMC, students in his class are shocked to learn he was not a drill instructor.
Brian Hill of The Complete Combatant is quiet and reserved. As my wife pointed out, he is stealthy. He could sneak up on you and have you on the ground before you knew what happened. He is probably the most soft-spoken trainer I have observed.
These surface differences in demeanor notwithstanding, Murphy and Hill have something in common that is far more important to their work as instructors. Both simply and passionately hate bullies and abusers. They are driven by a desire, deeply rooted in their respective biographies, to help people avoid suffering in ways they themselves have.
Kathy Jackson, the legendary Cornered Cat, once told me the central characteristic she has observed in the best firearms instructors is a deep concern – one might even say love – for their students.
I saw this in both Murphy and Hill, especially as they concluded their respective courses.
Murphy was visibly emotional – or perhaps just had some dirt blow into his eyes? – during his sendoff as he expressed the hope that, should the need arise, he had contributed to our ability to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Hill, not surprisingly, remained more reserved in his concluding remarks. Although he professed no concern about whether we go on to take responsibility for our own safety, his tone and expression suggested otherwise as he insisted, “We fight for love and life.”