Roseville police officer teaches self-defense

Nor-Cal Self Defense takes personal protection to next level
By: Jason Probst, special to the Press Tribune
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Nor-Cal Self Defense

Who: Owner/instructor Rick Randolph is a Roseville police officer, and mixed martial artist

When: Personal Defense Readiness series – five-week course taught at CrossFit Anywhere locations, Mondays, 7-9 p.m., March 11-April 8 (CrossFit Anywhere, 9050 Fairway Drive, Roseville); Thursdays, 7-9 p.m., March 14-April 11 (7700 Auburn Folsom Road in Folsom)


Courses can be customized for students, women and unique circumstances

Most instructors don’t define a teachable moment the way Rick Randolph does. But a recent event at one of his courses at a local high school gave him the happy buzz that educators strive for, getting that visceral thrill when the dots, at last, connect for students.

But in this case, there was no apple laid on his desk, nor a thank you from a grateful teen finally grasping the mysteries of algebra or some other relatively benign topic.

“I did a scenario where I’d come into the room with a gun,” Randolph explained. “I told the kids it was entirely up to them how to respond. I returned with a rubber rifle. As soon as I got in the door, I got slammed low by one kid. The second hit me high, and then the third one, a girl, kicked me in the head several times while I was down. It was amazing.”

As part of the gig, Randolph was clad in a protective suit that allows students to punch, elbow, kick, knee and pretty much throw the kitchen sink, should it be available.

This is the world of Rick Randolph and Nor-Cal Self Defense – one where everyone, no matter what their size, gender or training background, is their own personal bodyguard.

Randolph, a decorated Roseville police officer and mixed martial artist, founded Nor-Cal Self Defense in response to his own revelations about how personal protection on the street is a radically different equation compared to other settings, such as sports or law enforcement. And as a certified instructor under self-defense pioneer Tony Blauer, Randolph has been teaching high school students in addition to hosting five-week seminars, both locally and internationally for Blauer Tactical Systems.

“Rick has come in twice now,” said Linda Dickson, a Granite Bay High School teacher. “What’s neat about Rick is he is very low-key, unassuming, and does street self-defense for the kids. He gives them real-life scenarios, whether it’s walking out of a building, in a shopping mall or on a high school or college campus. He’ll talk about three or four techniques and moves you can use to defend yourself.”

Fellow GBHS teacher Dede Walker said Randolph is able to engage the kids as much due to his mixed martial arts background (Randolph held two championship belts competing in Gladiator Challenge, a West Coast promotion) as anything else, which is quite popular with today’s youth.

“He’s a mentor because of the MMA experience. A lot are listening to him because of he has that competitive spirit,” Walker said. “He’s very open and casual.”

It can be tough to reach anyone, particularly teens, who are used to plenty of people trying to “get through” in today’s fast-paced world. Yet Walker says Randolph is able to convey the importance of the message while keeping it fun.

“He talks to kids and he doesn’t lecture at them. He’s very interesting,” Walker added. “He’s a teacher, and he knows how to relate to kids and engage them, which is pretty tough to do to a high school crowd. It would be awesome if we could have him here for a three-week unit instead of a three- or four-day unit.”

Randolph uses that versatility in teaching across multiple demographics, which is one of the core concepts of the approach. While it’s easy to teach a fit, muscled athletic type some basic self-defense in a gym setting, it’s entirely another to convince a woman to attack an assailant’s vital parts as soon as she detects that’s the appropriate response. That’s part of the protective suit approach, where Randolph drills students in the responses. But as much of the approach is psychological and re-thinking how we classify potentially violent situations, and the responses that should ensue.

“We spend a good half of the time spent on mindset. I’d say two-thirds of it is that. It doesn’t take any skills to fight. I just need to get them prepared,” Randolph explained. “We tell these people all the time, ‘Don’t hit.' Is it appropriate to hit someone in a padded suit class? They struggle with it. We’ve had tears. We’ve also had some amazing moments of people breaking through.  And that’s a great thing to see.”