12 Sept 13

This from a Tom Burris, recently retired from the LAPD:

EOW – September 9, 2013

On Sept 9th the world of law enforcement training, martial arts, and the Los Angeles Police Department lost a true icon and treasure.

Robert Koga, retired LAPD Sergeant/Detective, and the founder of the Koga Institute, lost his battle with Mesothelioma, at age 83.

In the fall of 1973 I began my quest of studying Administration of Justice for my law
enforcement career at Rio Hondo College, in Whittier, CA. I came across two training manuals in the school book store by Mr. Koga. Each dealt with the Koga Method of Arrest Techniques and Baton Techniques. They both became part of my then new “cop” library.

Shortly there after I was attending a school related conference in Anaheim, CA, of the American Criminal Justice Association. At the conference I was surprised to learned that Mr. Koga was the featured speaker. Actually it was a demonstration of the Koga Method of Arrest and Control.
Well, being a 6’-02”, 210 pound, 18 year old, I was “volunteered” to be the “suspect” for his demonstration. For an hour, Bob demonstrated control holds, handcuffing, and takedowns, with ease as I was thrown around the mat. His command presence, demeanor, and physical skills, were impressive.

I made my decision that I needed to learn the “Koga Method.” That started my several years of training with Bob. Originally, Bob created the “Police Self Defense Instructor Training
Association.” That organization morphed into the “Koga Institute.”

To this day I still have a stack of certificates of training from several of his courses.
Bob was a true gentleman and a very easy going guy. He counseled and guided me as I was beginning my career with the LAPD. Actually, Bob’s last day at work before retirement was Friday, March 2, 1979; and I started my 31-plus year career with LAPD at the Academy Monday, March 5, 1979.

After his retirement from LAPD, Bob led the Koga Institute and provided training in the Koga Method across the United States and around the world. His training schedule was non-stop year round.

While on the job I heard countless stories from senior officers who were recruits when Bob was an Academy instructor. There were officers still repeating the stories of Bob’s abilities.

Until the late 1950s and very early 1960s the LAPD’s uniform regulations had officers wearing their service revolver in a cross draw holster. And the baton was wood with grooved fluted at one end and a leather thong to wrap around the hand.

Bob saw a need to change this arrangement for improved officer safety. Eventually, Bob’s work caused a change we see today. An officer’s service weapon in a holster on the primary side of the equipment belt. This made a greater improvement for officer safety and weapon retention.
Another improvement Bob made was the baton being made without flutes and the removal of the leather thong. A rubber grommet was slipped on to one end to act as the grip by the officer. This gave an officer quicker employment of the baton.

Bob’s vision and hard work has resulted in this being a standard of uniformed law enforcement personnel across the United States.

With all large organizations some changes do not go over very well. As a new officer I actually came across a few “older” officers who bemoaned the changes. One saying the removal of cross draw holsters was the worse thing the Department ever did. I think the generations of officers since then would probably disagree.

Robert Koga was a pure martial artist, a visionary, an exceptional instructor, a gentleman, and a friend. I will miss him!

/Tom Burris
Sergeant, retired
Los Angeles Police Department