Richard Ryan comes from a long line of gifted athletes. The men in his family were all wrestlers and his grandfather was a champion boxer and police captain who taught defensive tactics for the FBI. As a boy Richard was a shy and lanky kid who suffered from asthma. Determined to overcome his deficiencies he became interested in wrestling at the age of eight. Under the influence of his grandfather he also became fascinated with police tactics and began the study of boxing a short time later.
At the age of thirteen Richard Ryan walked into a Karate school and watched a sparring class. Although he had seen martial arts in movies and television he had never actually seen them live, in action. Interested, Ryan sat through the first part of the class confident that he could compete with the lower belt students using the boxing and wrestling skills. Then two experienced black belt squared off to fight and began to exchange kicks to the head. As he watched them use their legs, Ryan knew that he had to learn this new type of fighting as he had learned to use his hands.
From then on he became captivated by the martial arts. As a teenager he studied Tae Kwon-do and Chinese Kenpo eventually earned his first Black Belt. A few years later after seeing a Bruce Lee movie, he sought out and began the study of Wing Chun Gung Fu, the same martial art Lee had studied as a young man in Hong Kong. Ryan took to Wing Chun like it was made for him, soon surpassing all his instructors in knowledge and skill. In just over two years he had learned the entire Wing Chun system, achieved a full instructorship and was awarded a third degree black sash (third degree black belt) and had become the youngest instructor in the history of the Arizona Gung Fu Academy.
Around that time Sifu Ryan also started training in full contact kickboxing. Seeking to expose himself to as many types of fighters and styles as possible, he formed a hard core sparring association called the Gladiator Club. The club advertised that Sifu Ryan would fight anyone and everyone who would be willing to get into the ring with him. Over the next three years he successfully logged hundreds of matches, taking on all comers. Ryan calls this experience “his personal reality check” because of the many diverse opponents and situations he was forced to confront. The initial years of the Gladiator club found him facing martial artists from many diverse schools, boxers, kick boxers and grapplers. And as he puts it “more than his share of drunks and whackos.” Not everyone came with sportsman-like intentions. Although most fought within the rules, Sifu Ryan often found himself facing opponents who did not play fair. Many of these matches deteriorated into real fights with the gloves coming off and blood spilled. Regardless, Sifu Ryan never lost a fight, retiring undefeated from the experience in 1984 when he finally shut down the Gladiator Club to pursue a higher martial arts education.
However, these encounters had a considerable effect on him. Having to face so many different opponents and styles in extreme situations changed his outlook on real fighting and marked the origin of what was to eventually become a new martial art. As a result of numerous street fights during this period and the Gladiator Club experience, Ryan began to explore new and better methods often taking what he learned and improving on it through endless hours of practice and sparring.
It was at this point that Ryan began to face an internal conflict. He had been a loyal practitioner of traditional arts like Wing Chun Gung Fu but found that much of what he was taught did not translate to the real world or the ring. Several unique experiences followed that lead to Ryan’s break from traditional styles and set him on the path to develop his own art form.
Birth of an Art
While still teaching a modified version of Wing Chun Gung Fu, Sifu Ryan came to the realization that the truth of combat must lay outside the confines of any of the systems he had previously studied. None of his formal training had prepared him for the brutality and diversity that he had experienced in the street or the ring. Disturbed by this realization he suddenly stopped all his formal training, closed down a successful school and moved to a small customized training facility connected to his home. He had decided that in order to evolve he needed to be able to fully devote himself to his own personal study and development. Thus began his pursuit of new and better fighting methods a journey that led him to study a diverse range of both hand-to-hand and weapons combat arts. Over the next five years of his life he devoted himself with incredible intensity to his personal quest – to discover the core realities of interpersonal combat and become the best martial artist he could be.
Ryan broke all ties with the past and the traditional styles he had studied and threw himself full force into the examination of every art he could come in contact and amassed one of the most impressive libraries of books on the combative arts. He survived financially by keeping only enough students to pay the bills and turning all others away.
This angered many who knew him and held fast to the belief that their own arts had all the answers. When they heard that Sifu Ryan was teaching a new system of his own design, some of these people sought to shut him down. Like some cliché Kung Fu movie they sent their representatives to try to humiliate him and force him to close his doors. These people would call under the pretense of wanting to become a student, but when they showed up their intentions were obvious. They would never come alone. Often dressed in full Gung Fu uniforms they would inevitably challenge him to a match with result being that if Sifu Ryan lost he would be forced to stop teaching. For the first year after closing his formal academy, Sifu Ryan fought and defeated every challenger sending them away bruised and bloodied. After enough of them were sent packing the word got out and the threats stopped.
Angered and disillusioned, Ryan formally renounced all rank and titles and severed his connection with all traditional arts of the time and proceeded to throw himself into his personal quest. Over the next half decade Ryan trained incessantly sometimes for more than eight hours a day, working out, sparring, drilling, writing and researching anything that could help him improve and understand the realities of combat. He looks back on this time as “his time in the Shaolin Temple,” because of his self imposed monk-like existence. Influenced by Mohammed Ali, Ed Parker, Bruce Lee, and others, Ryan started keeping journals chronicling every step of his journey – which number more than seventy volumes at the time of this writing.
All Ways as Means
During this time Ryan also began to integrate firearms training into his repertoire. Following his new belief in a more total approach to combat, Ryan stepped out of the confines of his hand-to-hand and traditional weapons combat training and began training in all forms of combative firearms. He mastered the handgun, long-gun, shotgun and assault rifle and become an expert marksman and firearms instructor at the U.S. Marksmanship Academy and eventually the world famous Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. At Gunsite he became the first instructor ever to design and teach edged weapons and alternative force tactics at a school which until then was solely focused on firearms training.
These experiences eventually led to interest in Ryan’s programs by law enforcement and government agencies. Ryan would go on to develop innovative programs for S.W.A.T. and special ops teams, and pioneer the development of reality-based integrated force tactics for civilians and law enforcement. This led him to become the author the vast majority of the Arizona Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (AZPOST) Defense Tactics Law Enforcement Training Manual, currently in use by every law enforcement agency in the state of Arizona – an accomplishment that is unparalleled nationwide.
Pioneering Reality-based Fighting
The intensity of Ryan’s personal quest allowed him to cram 20 years of research and development into a five-year period, which resulted in the birth of the core system that would eventually become the art of Dynamic Combat™. The irony is that Ryan never set out to create a new martial art. His system was originally just a way for him to keep track of what he had learned and developed. But as more and more people came in contact with his art, his student base grew and grew. Regardless, Ryan felt that the quest was the important thing and avoided the spotlight in his early years in favor of further completing his person journey.
Today, Ryan has emerged as one of the earliest pioneers of the reality fighting arts having spent decades in the study of the sciences of physics and kinesiology with the sole intention of developing new and better fighting methods. He is renowned for his vast knowledge of reality combat and understanding of the science behind the arts. He earned a reputation as an innovator and advocate of the scientific approach to fighting – a reputation that is with him to this day.
Richard Ryan is regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on reality-based combat martial arts, self-defense and tactical weapons training. His programs represent a lifetime of research and development, with the singular focus on practical application in real-life situations. His methods are characterized by their realism, effectiveness and the ease at which they can be learned and applied.
About Dynamic Combat™
The Dynamic Combat™ Method (D.C.M.) is the innovative, exceedingly effective reality-based martial art that Richard Ryan invented and refined over the past several decades. It forms the foundation for all his teaching. A comprehensive personal survival system, Dynamic Combat™ addresses all aspects of violent confrontations including in-depth study of all forms of hand-to-hand and weapons combat. Dynamic Combat™ is unique because unlike other arts it is designed from the ground up and based on the correct application of physics and biomechanics. Moreover, its core techniques are designed around the ability to deal with the worst that combat has to offer. Dynamic Combat™ is the martial art of the worst-case scenario, designed to help its practitioner survive the most extreme situations and opponents.
A gifted athlete, artist, inventor and prolific writer, Ryan’s exceptional teaching skills have been appreciated by his many longtime students, law enforcement and government agencies, and thousands of people who have attended his very popular seminars over the years. His dedicated and meticulous search for the fundamental truths of self-defense is an integral part of providing insight into an area of human experience that is often shrouded in mystery and misconception. The success of his programs can be attributed to a lifetime of cutting-edge innovations and his scientific approach to the use of force and individual personal safety. His seminars, presentations, books and videos are brutally honest, direct and highly enlightening, and continue to provide answers for those touched by violence or in the line of fire.
Ryan is the owner and publisher of Real Combat Online (RCO Magazine) a unique online publication that focuses exclusively on proliferation of reality-based fighting arts. His company, Ryan Defense Systems, Inc., offers a wide variety of services to the public, government and law enforcement agencies.