Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NCAA stars have better chance to go pro

In the past few weeks, a flurry of MLS roster rule amendments were announced. With the overall goal to improve the depth and quality of the league, the news is certainly a positive development for senior college soccer players round the country.

These tweaks have surely caught the attention of those collegiate stars seeking a professional contract. With the roster size growing and the reserve league coming back, it’s a good time to be on the lookout to start a soccer career.

Raising the roster sizes from 24 to 30 is the first of many minor changes already implemented by MLS before the young offseason began. Many of the details are yet to be hashed out completely, but for those fringe college players, the Jan. 13 SuperDraft date became an even bigger chance to land an MLS contract.

Along with the increased roster size, the decision to bring back the reserve league will keep players match fit, gives players a chance to impress coach and technical staffs in games and push players for starting spots in the first team.

One of the most recent examples of the reserve league bearing fruit is Colorado Rapids striker Omar Cummings, who has been in tremendous form for the last two years. But the former Cincinnati State and University Cincinnati man might never have gotten an opportunity were it not for the reserve league.

A third-round draft pick by the Rapids in the 2007 SuperDraft, Cummings spent most of his rookie year playing in the reserve league. By the end of that first season, the Colorado coaching staff took notice of Cummings, making 11 appearances for the first team.

The rest is now history – Cummings entered 2008 as a regular, and come season’s end, had started to form his now-famous strike partnership with Conor Casey.

Now that the 2010 college soccer season is in its last stages, seniors around the nation are continually working hard, looking to build a case for selection in the SuperDraft and perhaps follow Cummings’ route to the bigs.

Not only is the resurrection of the reserve league a big move for those with professional aspirations, the addition of two new teams creates more roster spaces around the league with the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps trying to fill out their inaugural teams.

Only a few games remain on the NCAA Tournament schedule, and with each passing weekend, the number of teams left will be halved. Some players’ college careers may expire, but the beginning of their professional careers could begin at the Draft Combine.

For those who earn an invitation to Florida during the first week of January, the Combine will provide scouts, general managers and technical staffs one last look at the prospective MLS rookie class in 2011. And those looks now offer those prospects the best chance they've had in a while to have a successful career.

Olsen gets DC United coaching job for next season

When D.C. United and U.S. national team midfielder Ben Olsen retired as a player almost exactly a year ago, it was noted that his Major League Soccer club was looking for a head coach.

"I am in no way ready for that role," Olsen said at the time.

Well, he'd better be ready now.

As of Monday, the 33-year-old Olsen is the youngest permanent head coach in MLS history, getting the job after a 12-game stint on an interim basis at the end of last season. United gave Olsen a new three-year contract.

"This last six months really proved to me that I have the capabilities of leading this group going forward," Olsen said, "so probably sometime in the last six months, I decided this is the route I want to go."

Long a fan favorite during his playing days, he was the MLS rookie of the year in 1998 and helped United win the MLS Cup in 1999 and 2004. He was the MVP of the 1999 championship game, a two-time league All-Star, and played 37 games for the U.S. from 1998-2007.

He became an assistant coach for United after announcing his retirement in November 2009, then was promoted in August, when the team fired Curt Onalfo in the midst of a 6-20-4 season, the worst record in MLS in 2010 and worst in United history. The team went 3-8-1 under Olsen, and United president and CEO Kevin Payne publicly ruled out the possibility of retaining him for 2011, citing a lack of experience.

"I knew all along he was bluffing," Olsen said with a smile, drawing laughter from Payne, before adding: "I was hoping he was bluffing."

When Payne decided to offer him the job, Olsen said, "I was surprised. I was. I was fully prepared to ... go back into an assistant coach role and continue learning the trade."

So what changed?

Well, for one thing, Payne said Monday, he was persuaded by Olsen to keep an open mind. United held what Payne characterized as "serious conversations" with "at least a half-dozen candidates" — he declined to name any of them — before he and general manager Dave Kasper decided to stick with Olsen.

"Particularly in recent weeks, we more and more often got back to saying that a lot of the really critical qualities that we thought were necessary, Ben had in abundance," Payne said.

As for whether Olsen is ready for his first full-fledged head coaching job, Payne said: "There's no question that Ben already has grown. ... He has an enormous amount to learn before he gets to the level of the elite coaches in our league. But I think he knows that, and he'll learn those things. ... Good coaches learn something every year. Every day, for that matter. I think Ben will be one of those guys."

Olsen and Payne both painted a rosy picture of where things stand for United, which they insisted had too much youth and too many injuries to overcome last season.

"We're not as far off as our record indicated," Olsen said.

"I don't think the playoffs are out of the question next year. It's something that can be achieved. In this league it's unique in the sense that you can change in a couple of months. I want to make the playoffs, but I want to make the playoffs in the right way. We have a way of playing here at D.C. United, maybe not as of late, but certainly over the span of this club that I want to get back to -- the commitment, the energy, the passion all need to come back into this club. On top of that, we need to play with a little flair. We need to entertain people who come and pay their money to see us."
Ben Olsen upon being named head coach of D.C. United.

Payoff Charges Rock FIFA

The World Cup 2018/22 races were thrown into more confusion on Monday with various media sources linking three key FIFA executive committee members who will vote on Thursday to payoffs from ISL, the international sports agency, before its collapse in 2001.

Ricardo Teixeira (former FIFA president Joao Havelange's former son-in-law and the boss of Brazilian soccer), Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz (president of the South American soccer confederation Conmebol) and Cameroonian Issa Hayatou (president of the African soccer confederation) were the three named in reports in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, German paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and on the BBC's "Panorama" show.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Real Madrid's 'intentional' red cards under review

It seemed pretty obvious that with acts of blatant time-wasting Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were intentionally trying to their second yellow cards late in the 4-0 win over Ajax Amsterdam.

The victory clinched a spot in the Champions League knockout round for Real with one game to play in the group stage. By getting their second cautions, the duo is suspended for the meaningless game and start the second round with a clean slate.

Neither player protested the red cards and Ramos shook hands with Scottish referee Craig Thomson before leaving the field. Dutch broadcaster NOS showed footage of Madrid coach Jose Mourinho speaking to Alonso on the sideline before he picked up his second yellow.

UEFA said its disciplinary unit will look at the incidents after receiving Thomson's official report. UEFA’s disciplinary code allows for suspensions of more than one match in cases of unsporting conduct.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Good & Bad News of Soccer on TV in 2010

The good news is that the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands drew almost 10 million more viewers than the final game of the 2010 World Series. On the other hand, the combined audience for MLS Cup 2010 on ESPN and Galavision was less than one-eighth the audience for the final game of the Stanley Cup hockey finals on NBC.

Paul Kennedy of Soccer America looks at the viewerships of the finals of 2010's major sporting events

2010 Super Bowl
106,500,000 million viewers (CBS)
Note: The Saints-Colts game was most-watched television show in history, beating out the final episode of "M*A*S*H" in 1983.

2010 NBA finals (Game 7)
28,200,000 million viewers (ABC)
Note: Game 7 between Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics was the most-watched NBA game since Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to their sixth championship over the Utah Jazz in 1998.

2010 World Cup final
15,545,000 viewers (ABC)
8,821,000 viewers (Univision)
24,366,000 viewers (Total)
Note: The game was the most-watched World Cup game ever on ABC and the most-watched final on Univision.

2010 Masters golf tournament (Day 4)
17,100,000 viewers (CBS)
Note: The golf tournament ended on Sunday with a three-way sudden-death playoff.

2010 World Series (Game 5)
14,950,000 million (FOX)
Note: The San Francisco-Texas game was the least-watched deciding game in World

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Keys to Rapids Title Run

No team wins a championship without talent, endurance, determination, spirit, luck, good coaching, and various other intangibles. For the Colorado Rapids, other elements of their play proved indispensable as they captured their first MLS championship.

Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney analyses how the Rapids won the title.

'IT’S A MINDSET.’ Colorado’s unorthodox methods of scoring goals in the playoffs mirrored a resolute stubbornness that imbued players with mutual confidence and belief regardless of results. Down a goal to Columbus on aggregate in the conference semifinals and trailing by a goal again in the final, both times the Rapids prevailed. When it squandered opportunities to subdue San Jose with a second goal, it preserved that precious 1-0 lead to the final whistle.

Only once did the Rapids come back from a goal down to win in the regular season – against the Galaxy in the 29 th game of a 30-game season – yet captain Mastroeni believes that even if that feat hadn’t been attained he’d have been confident it could be done in the playoffs. “Coming from behind it’s not so much the result at the end, but the belief that you can get the result,” says the 34-year-old midfielder who played 13 seasons and 312 games before reaching his first MLS Cup.

“Too often in this game it’s too easy to be down a goal or two and just quit. We finish every game 90 minutes, it doesn’t matter if we’re on the wrong end. It’s a mindset. You lose a lot of games in the season but you learn from those games. You realize you’re not far away from getting the result you want. We did it late in the season against LA and against Columbus, to come back, and today was another example of that.”

Moments after Kandji’s bank shot, he hobbled off injured, leaving his teammates to fight off desperate FCD attacks with 10 men. Keeper Matt Pickens broke FCD’s hearts with a stunning, diving parry of John’s blistering low shot, and defender Drew Moor cleared an attempt that might have been going wide but presented danger nonetheless.

“I just reacted and thankfully I came out on top,” said Pickens modestly in the locker room just before shaking up a bottle of champagne, one of more than a dozen to be sprayed and poured on Mastroeni, surrounded by his teammates, as he danced and laughed with the team’s new trophy.

A few of his teammates praised not just the save, but an excellent season for which he’d received scant praise. “Matt was someone who deserved much, much more credit,” said Jeff Larentowicz, the ex-Rev whose own contribution drew heartfelt acclaim amid raucous, joyous horseplay in the locker room.

“That’s a compliment to Drew and Marv [Marvell Wynne] who played in front of him all year. They took all the defensive accolades but Matt was always there, and tonight our jaws dropped, because it was an unbelievable effort.”

Early in overtime, center back Julien Baudet had replaced left back Anthony Wallace, dinged up and slowed by a hamstring strain. Moor moved to left back. In the final minutes, as FCD crashed the goalmouth again and again, with Pickens’ save and Moor’s block and a few howitzer headers from Baudet and Wynne, the Rapids held on.

“It was the longest 10 minutes ever,” said an effervescent Kimura, saturated in bubbly and exuberance. “Even after the 10 minutes passed in overtime, but still they had extra time, added minutes, and we had no idea what’s going on. It seemed like they were never going to blow the whistle. They had a couple of good chances, but Matt Pickens, Julien came in and did well, Marvell and everybody did their job. That’s why we got it.”

Emenalo’s rise catches attention of Roberts

Boston University soccer coach Neil Roberts was not surprised at the success of former Terrier Michael Emenalo as a player and administrator for clubs in Europe. But Roberts was caught off guard by Emenalo’s rise to assistant coach at Chelsea FC.

Frank Dell'Apa writes how Roberts watched Emenalo grow from a young player into a coach at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

“We stayed in touch, we made contact once a month,’’ Roberts said of Emenalo. “We were in touch in early September and we got to talking about football, which we very seldom have a chance to do. You could tell he wanted to get into coaching — it was in the back of his mind. He was doing the scouting for Chelsea and, once a week, he was on the field with the team going over the opponent for the next match. He really enjoyed that one day on the field.’’

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ellinger a key reason for team's success, head coach's growth

When Schellas Hyndman decided to leave SMU and become FC Dallas' coach in June 2008, he knew he needed someone on his staff familiar with Major League Soccer.

So he called longtime friend John Ellinger, who had just spent nearly three seasons as Real Salt Lake's coach, and asked him to be his top assistant.

"Schellas was looking for somebody that had been in the league," Ellinger said. "What's helped a lot is going through things like the expansion draft, the protected list, the draft, and stuff like what worked and didn't in Salt Lake. I think he's appreciated that."

Hyndman has a great deal of respect for his top lieutenant.

"He's been tremendous. He got me acclimatized to what's going on in the league," he said. "I was here with a college background and great soccer knowledge but didn't know if it could translate into this level."

Before he became Salt Lake's first coach, Ellinger was a key figure in shaping the future of American soccer.

As coach of the under-17 national team for seven years, he helped establish and run the acclaimed residency program in Bradenton, Fla., developing some of the nation's brightest young talents. He worked with future World Cup players Landon Donovan , Oguchi Onyewu and Michael Bradley, among others, as well as FC Dallas players Heath Pearce, Dax McCarty and Eric Avila.

But he wasn't exactly the players' buddy back then.

"I was scared of him, really scared of him," Avila said. "He didn't talk, didn't say much. He kept everything to himself and that just scared me."

"He was pretty intimidating," McCarty said. "Whenever he spoke, it was silence. You could hear crickets."

Now, though, the players have a markedly different relationship with Ellinger.

""You're grown up a little bit and now you can just talk about whatever you want with him," McCarty said. "He's a great guy, a fantastic coach and a guy I definitely feel comfortable hanging out with."

Ellinger realizes his relationship with his players now compared to those days is completely different.

"It's like night and day," he said. "When you're in residency, you're a father figure because they're a lot younger and they're afraid to death of you. Now we're in a different environment. They're more mature. Now it's more of a closer personal relationship as an assistant coach than before."

From Boston University to Stamford Bridge

Michael Emenalo's appointment at Chelsea is a great testimonial for the collegiate and professional game here in the United States.

Jide Alaka writes about the journey of the former Boston University and Major League Soccer standout that has now led to Stamford Bridge.

Emenalo played college soccer in America at Boston University from 1986 to 1989. He led Boston University to a 54-17-11 record over his four years, scoring 36 goals along with 32 assists. Emenalo was named All-New England all four seasons. He was inducted into the Boston University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

From there, he moved to Belgium to turn out for Molenbeek, Eintracht Trier in Germany and Notts County in England before returning to the USA to take up coaching and academy work at the Tucson Soccer Academy. He started out as a volunteer coach with Virginia Tech University in 2004. He was under Oliver Weiss who led the team into the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005.

Emenalo was a pioneer player in the revamped Major League Soccer (MLS) where he was one of the allocated players. He spent two seasons with the San Jose Clash. After that, he played in the Spanish Segunda with Lleida who then had Juande Ramos as coach. He continued his football sojourn to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he met Avram Grant in 1997.

Football philosophy

Emenalo's coaching philosophy has always been about enlisting young talents.

That was one of the reasons he joined the Tucson Football Academy in the USA.

On the academy site, Emenalo wrote: "Pre-formation" training; which ensures that the player, at a formative age, is presented with the right soccer information and training before bad habits, and inexperienced coaching set in.

"Specifically, the pre-formation training will consist of teaching, first and often, the individual techniques and comfort on the ball that will enable a young player to keep ahead of the curve. It is our collective experience that a young player cannot excel in soccer unless he/she can completely master and dominate the ball. To gain that mastery, it is crucial to start early.

"It is also our intention to recreate the "street soccer" credential (which, in the distant past, was the championed way for kids to hone their individual skills) by providing a safe, fun and culturally relevant environment that encourages more spontaneity and freedom of expression with the ball."

Zips coaches of past, present get shot at dream

Both are builders and both are dreamers, although Ken Lolla might lean more toward the former and Caleb Porter more toward the latter.

Marla Ridenour of the Beacon Journal writes of the two giants in the college soccer game, and their ties through Akron University.

The goal that consumes them feels especially tangible today as the two coaches begin pursuit of their schools' first NCAA Division I men's soccer championship.

Should their teams reach the final four, known as the College Cup, or meet for the title in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Dec. 12, it could be the birth of a sports legacy for the University of Akron.

If it hasn't already.

''Maybe Akron is the new cradle of coaches,'' Porter suggested last week, borrowing the moniker first attached to Miami University's famous football graduates in 1959.

UA will be well represented in the 48-team tournament, which opened play Thursday, with coaches of two of the top three seeds having Akron roots.

No. 1 seed Louisville is coached by Lolla, who spent 13 seasons at Akron from 1993-2005. No. 3 seed Akron is directed by Porter, who succeeded Lolla and took the Zips to the College Cup championship last season before losing to Virginia on penalty kicks.

Akron (18-1-1) hosts West Virginia today at 4 p.m. at Lee R. Jackson Field. Louisville (16-0-3) hosts the College of Charleston at 7 p.m.

Both programs have reached unprecedented heights under Porter and Lolla, friends who run into each other on the recruiting circuit and share a mutual respect.

Before Lolla arrived at Louisville, the Cardinals had never been to an NCAA Tournament. This season, they're making their fourth consecutive appearance. In 2007, Lolla doubled his team's win total from five to 11. The Cardinals' four years of double-digit victories have never been previously achieved. Picked to finish second in the Big East in a preseason poll, Louisville won the league's regular season and its first tournament title. This year, the Cardinals are ranked No. 1 in the nation and carry a 19-game unbeaten streak.

Taking it a step further

Akron had more of a tradition when Porter took over. The Zips had reached the NCAA title game in 1986 and been to the NCAA Tournament 21 times, six of those under Lolla, whose Zips reached the Elite Eight in 2005.

Under Porter, the Zips are making their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance, having also reached the final 16 in 2008.

Coaching their respective teams for five seasons, Porter has gone 86-13-9 at Akron, Lolla 56-28-16 at Louisville.

Although Porter acknowledges the foundation Lolla left, Porter doesn't think Lolla believed Akron could become a perennial national-title contender.

''One of the reasons I was excited about this opportunity was I knew there would be a strong foundation to build on. At the same time I felt I could take it a step further,'' Porter said last week. ''I never felt that [the elite eight] was the pinnacle Akron could be at and I think Ken maybe did.

''I felt I had a formula and a blueprint to take it even further — through changing the style of play, through recruitment and through scheduling. We've done that. He deserves credit for building the program to where it was, but I think we've elevated it. That's rewarding to see that happening.''

Lolla said he never felt there was a glass ceiling for the Zips' program.

''No. I always felt, especially the last season, that we had everyone believing we were capable of winning the national championship,'' Lolla said in a telephone interview last week. ''Caleb's run last year was a continuation of what we were doing. Caleb is doing such a wonderful job there.''

Not an easy decision

When Lolla left Akron in December 2005, Louisville was going into its second season in the Big East Conference. He hooked his star to a university where basketball, and to a lesser extent football reign. In 2009, Louisville's athletic budget was $51 million, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. In 2010, Akron's is about $24 million. Lolla said Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich has committed to building a soccer-specific facility, but with no timetable. Akron opened its renovated field this fall.

But leaving Akron was not an easy decision. Lolla's wife Tina is from Canton, and neither knew anyone in Kentucky's largest city.

''Overall, the resources are greater,'' Lolla said. ''There's no question at Akron I had support there, it's actually grown since I left. Give credit to Akron for recognizing what a successful program it was.

Mourinho hails 'fantastic' Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has hailed Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson as "fantastic" and believes that they have a number of things in common.

On the occasion of the LMA Hall of Fame Dinner 2010 in London in which he was the Guest of Honour, Mourinho told Madrid's official website of his admiration for the Red Devils boss.

"Alex Ferguson is fantastic," said Mourinho."We belong to completely different generations, but it doesn't seem so when we are together because we have many things in common.

"Every time we face each other, whether I win or he does, we end up embracing and having a little wine to celebrate our great friendship."

The Portuguese also expressed his gratitude towards former England boss Sir Bobby Robson, saying: "Bobby Robson gave me a great opportunity to work with him when I was practically a child in the world of football.

"I was able to work at great clubs with great players and I learned a lot. It helped me prepare better for the career I wanted to have as head coach. Naturally, I will never be able to forget him."

Spirit & Belief lead Rapids to MLS Cup


“We are as blue collar as you get but we have a great deal of spirit and belief. The way we played tonight wasn’t always great, but the guys dug in and they truly believed in themselves from the coaching staff to the guys sitting right there on the pitch.”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hyndman is proof that coaching matters

Since its inception in Major League Soccer in 1996, FC Dallas has been a largely irrelevant franchise.

Sure, they've made the playoffs a couple times, most recently in 2007. Yes, they've had some outstanding players, such as Jason Kreis and Kenny Cooper.

The name change from the Dallas Burn, coinciding with the opening of Pizza Hut Park in 2005, was cool, too.

None of that, however, mattered much until coach Schellas Hyndman arrived in 2008 after 24 years and 368 wins at SMU.

When he took over, FCD was a bickering, broken franchise.

Now Hyndman's preparing to lead FC Dallas into the MLS Cup on Sunday against Colorado , having dispatched the league's top two regular- season teams – Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles – in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Coaching matters.

JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR of the Dallas Morning News writes of how Schellas Hyndman changed the culture and level of expectations for FC Dallas.

A franchise is much better off having a good coach with average players than an average coach with good players. Hyndman, known for his consistently strong teams at SMU, advanced to the NCAA Tournament 23 times in 24 seasons.

The lure and challenge of coaching at the professional level while remaining in Dallas proved too much to resist. Especially since the request came from club owner Clark Hunt, who captained one of Hyndman's teams at SMU.

When he took over, FCD was 4-5-8. They went 4-5-4 under Hyndman that season. Last season, FCD went 11-13-6 as some players continued to struggle with the transition in Hyndman's first full season.

FC Dallas went 12-4-14 this season, including a league-record 19-game unbeaten streak.

Goalie Kevin Hartman led the league with a 0.62 goals-against average and was sensational in a 3-0 win over Los Angeles last week. David Ferreira, a 5-foot-5 dynamo, leads the team with eight goals and 13 assists.

Finally, they understand what Hyndman needs and wants from them. Everyone, as my pastor often says, is on one accord.

Change is rarely easy.

People enjoy familiarity, which is why most of us are brand-loyal whether we're talking bubble gum, laundry detergent or video gaming systems.

Hyndman, though, forced change upon the team.

He demands accountability from players. Those who produce play and those who don't sit, which is why Jeff Cunningham has started just 13 of 27 games, though he leads the team with 11 goals.

Coaches struggle for respect when they don't hold their best players to an even higher standard than everyone else.

Those who accepted Hyndman's obsession with attention to detail and his approach to the game thrived and remain with FC Dallas. Most of those who didn't are no longer here.

"It was a lot of work because I came halfway through the year and I couldn't do much with the team," said Hyndman, "because the players were the players.

"It has taken awhile to get my type of players and change the culture to a winning culture. When we added players, we wanted to add good people. We never talked about their soccer skills because that's why we liked them, but we wanted players with good character, who were committed and loyal."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Former American College & MLS Standout Names to Chelsea Staff

Former Nigerian international and MLS veteran Michael Emenalo, who played college soccer at Boston University and for the San Jose Clash, has been appointed first-team assistant coach for Chelsea.

Emenalo, 45, has joined the club in 2007 under the regime of manager Arvam Grant and has formed a good liaison with current manager Carlo Ancelotti. "Michael Emenalo is doing a fantastic job as head opposition scout and he is already working very close to me," Ancelotti said.

Emenalo played for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup and for San Jose made 56 regular-season appearances in 1996 and 1997. He played in Spain and Israel before retiring in 2000.

Ray Wilkins, a former Chelsea player, left the club last week after reportedly after being told his contract would not be renewed.

Hyndman mixes martial arts and coaching

Schellas Hyndman is not only the 2010 MLS Coach of the Year, but he's also a well-traveled martial arts master.

Steve Davis writes about Hyndman's fascinating life story.

All the while, even in Brazil, Hyndman doggedly pursued martial arts training. By his late 20s he was coaching at Eastern Illinois, simultaneously teaching a popular martial arts-based self-defense class and fighting professionally on the side.

Along the way toward earning a 10th-degree black belt, Hyndman also earned two master's degrees, one in physical education and one in psychology. SMU hired Hyndman in 1984 after Eastern Illinois appeared in college soccer's Final Four. In Dallas, he built SMU into a college soccer power while also running his own successful martial arts school.

Hyndman teaches Toide, an Okinawa style similar to the more familiar Aki Jujitsu. It's a "combat art," heavy in debilitating blows and holds, dangerous and destructive. Hyndman never accepted students under 18, reluctant to combine such knowledge with youthful immaturity. He has provided classes for police and military personnel.

"It's very hard, very disciplined. It's to protect you for life. It's also to hurt, maim or kill an opponent. It's designed to protect you and your family … not to get a point in a contest, or a pin, or a submission."

Avoiding a fight is a central tenet of most martial arts teachings. On the other hand, Hyndman won't shrink in the face of a challenge.

"I have that understanding in my life," he said. "I'm not going to take it from any human being. No one will talk down to me or treat me in a way I shouldn't be treated. It won't ever happen."

Hyndman, 56, has no compunction about telling a colleague, co-worker or subordinate when he believes they are out of line. He won't dance around an issue, and it may be that edgy disdain for insincere pleasantries that inspire some of the stories.

Most people who know Hyndman respect his candor and enjoy being around him; indeed, he is generally jovial and sociable. Still, everyone has heard the stories of pugilistic exploits.

"Yes, I know the stories are out there," says Hyndman, acknowledging that there is some truth to them. Some are undeniable, like videos of pain management demonstrations, where blows to his chin and groin are dismissed nonchalantly.

"It's something I don't really talk about," Hyndman said. "People who know me, they know my abilities. … But I don't want it to be an intimidating factor for people."