History – Dieter's Close Quarters Defense


THE CQD® System, that has been successfully utilized for over two decades by thousands of our nation’s premier military and law enforcement personnel, was the culmination of Mr. Dieter’s pursuit to find what is

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System Development

The Quest for Truth


The Close Quarters Defense® (CQD®) System that has been successfully utilized for over two decades by thousands of our nation’s premier military and law enforcement personnel, was the culmination of Mr. Dieter’s pursuit to find what is truly effective for the high-risk fight and has an extensive and complex history.

This history begins with Mr. Dieter’s initial martial arts instruction, which started at age 15, leading him to train diligently under multiple instructors in various systems. As Mr. Dieter progressed in age and broadened his experience, he deeply appreciated the skills he had learned but recognized that many of the components were more choreographed and/or sport based, lacking the intensity and capability of a motivated adversary with criminal intent. When he had to utilize these skills in defense situations, the techniques did not apply.

In 1980, Mr. Dieter served on a local police department, which allowed him to experience the various duties of law enforcement as well as the techniques and tactics taught. He witnessed similar unrealistic methods being utilized in training in preparation for criminal attacks and apprehension. Mr. Dieter also recognized that his firearms training introduced further inconsistencies and contradictions. Their skills were more focused on target/sport shooting and were not applicable under stress, relevant to the high risk engagement, nor did integrated with the unarmed techniques. This prompted him to train more extensively, traveling to numerous schools and camps, entering competitions, and earning several black belts. Significantly influenced and encouraged by a dear friend, he continued his search traveling throughout the Eastern United States. Mr. Dieter then traveled to the Orient, the birthplace of systemized martial arts, to find a master who could answer his questions and teach him the skills of the high-risk fight. He sought a mentor who was not only a good fighter, but also a man of integrity who lived his life with honor.

His quest led him to Hong Kong, Okinawa, and Taiwan. After studying with a number of different senior instructors he found that, though very challenging, rewarding, as well as culturally enriching, the training lacked the high-risk focus that he desired. Finally, an elder master with a very rich lineage and remarkable martial history, who understood Mr. Dieter’s quest told him, “What you’re looking for does not exist. You must develop it yourself. It must be your purpose.”

Upon returning to America in 1981, Mr. Dieter continued to train and teach martial arts, earning additional black belts and achieving advanced degrees in those previously earned, while privately beginning the process of developing the CQD System. The critical component during this initial period was his creation of the Hooded Box™ which validated in a short period of time that his CQD skills were significantly different from his past training. He coined the term Training Scars™ to signify the infractions that occurred under stress by training in both operational and nonoperational skills. He recognized that the specificity and focus of the life and death fight demanded his complete dedication and attention. Mr. Dieter then completely removed himself from his previous training and exclusively committed himself to the CQD System. To guide him throughout this nine-year development and help him remain steadfast to what he envisioned, Mr. Dieter established numerous tenets, a few of which include:

  1. The system must be designed for the high-risk fight.
  2. When skills are used, they must be justifiable and used with appropriate force control in all situations.
  3. All unarmed and armed skills must integrate with no contradictions.
  4. All skills must be accountable and sustainable.
  5. Tactics and techniques must be validated under realistic pressure of the fight.
  6. Skills must be effective in every situation and environment, both in personal defense and professional operations.

As the system evolved, Mr. Dieter knew that these skills should only be utilized with conscience, purpose, and for lawful and righteous reasons. He also recognized the inherent value, capability, and advantages that the CQD skills provided and undertook various measures to keep the techniques private and out of the hands of criminals or those who would use the skills inappropriately.

CQD was utilized operationally when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents recruited Mr. Dieter as a member of the newly formed Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which was investigating cocaine trafficking on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He was locally deputized by the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department (and later by the Caroline County Sheriff's Department) and federally deputized by the DEA. Using the CQD System to fight the drugs that degraded his community, Mr. Dieter worked with a variety of local and federal agencies in training, surveillance, intelligence gathering, search warrant service, room entry, raid planning, debriefing and controlling confidential informants, and high-risk felony arrests. He was also actively involved in patrol, undercover operations, SWAT, and VIP/Informant Protection. During this time he also served as a Reserve Officer for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The force control elements inherent in CQD served Mr. Dieter well. During many dangerous and violent encounters, not one person whom Mr. Dieter trained on the task force was injured, nor was any suspect. He received numerous awards and commendations for his achievements including: the Easton Police Department’s Distinguished Service Award in the field of drug enforcement, community dedication, and tactical expertise; The Talbot County Narcotics Task Force’s Appreciation of Service while serving on the Caroline County Task Force; Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for meritorious achievement; and the DEA’s outstanding contribution in the field of drug enforcement.

Through Mr. Dieter’s involvement in the violent world of drug enforcement, he witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of drugs on families, especially children. This brought him to the realization that although law enforcement is critical, it is only one part of what is needed to fight this problem. Keeping this in mind, in 1990 Mr. Dieter founded a Youth Club and the CQD Hero Training to help children learn good morals and inner confidence. His primary concern in creating the program was the safety of these vulnerable children, at risk to the peer pressure and drug use so prevalent in their area. For his involvement in this very significant effort Mr. Dieter received numerous awards including: the Governor’s Citation for significant contribution to the community and Congressional Recognition for commitment and dedication to the community.

By the end of the nine-year period, Mr. Dieter had developed the CQD System as a fully operational and integrated system organized into Six Divisions, with ten levels and twenty weeks of training. CQD encompasses all aspects of tactical fighting from unarmed, armed, prisoner and suspect control, shooting, Internal Warrior and ethos training, physical exercises and conditioning into a Full Circle approach to the individual and team’s tactical capability. The efforts undertaken in developing CQD resulted in a more efficient and effective way to defend against a motivated attacker, while utilizing the appropriate levels of force. Ultimately the system was adopted by some of our nation’s most elite military and law enforcement personnel, and Mr. Dieter personally utilized these skills in numerous high-risk situations while attached to multiple federal agencies, both domestically and abroad.

Naval Special Warfare



The CQD®/NSW relationship began in 1989 when Mr. Dieter was requested by the elite Naval component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to teach the CQD System. Select personnel visited the CQD training facility for a demonstration, which later led to a one-week training course, after which recommendations were made to other components of this group for adoption. CQD provided operationally focused and customized unarmed, armed, prisoner control, advanced CQD shooting techniques, and team combat skills, as well as Validation/Accountability Exercises and Tac-House™ training, all tailored to meet mission specific tasks. Due to its operational relevance, merit, and referrals from various operators, the training spread throughout this Command from team-to-team in the early 90’s and because of the unique value of the system, Mr. Dieter received continual requests for training. A CQD Tactical Role Player™ (TRP™) training program was instituted that provided the opposing force against operators for both individual and team size engagements. At one time this week-long certification was comprised of over 80 active members. In 1995 the senior leadership formulated mission need statements and training project plans outlining CQD’s adoption at the Command that would establish a formalized training program for all operators. By 1995, over 75% of this Command had trained in CQD at various levels.

Throughout this time period, CQD taught initial and advanced courses to various SEAL Teams on the East Coast. Due to CQD’s success and overwhelming acceptance by NSW's Tier-1 Command and the East Coast Teams, the system was referred to the Naval Special Warfare Center (NSWC) in 1995. The Combat Fighting Course (CFC) cadre attended a one-week training session and upon completion of the course recognized its total operational focus and applicability for SEALs. They began implementing the training and recommended the system for adoption in 1996 and in 1997 CQD became the established training program for the SEAL Teams and was approved by the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC). As the success of the training spread, senior NSW leaders recognized the need and value of having CQD throughout the career of a SEAL operator and in 2000, CQD was officially adopted into Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Phases as well as SEAL Qualification Training (SQT). By providing one to six-week CQD training courses at all levels of NSW, each SEAL operator was interoperable and was able to progress from initial to advanced levels of training throughout their career.

The operators appreciated their unique and specialized skills and through their own words, CQD became synonymous with, and defined, operational training. Mr. Dieter’s tactical expertise was so highly regarded that he was brought in to conduct six-week training courses for missions of national importance, resulting in success. For all of Mr. Dieter’s efforts and continuing service to Naval Special Warfare he was made an Honorary Frogman and awarded the Civilian Superior Service Award by ADM Eric T. Olson in 2002.

CQD has also had a proven, successful relationship with NSW in certifying NSWC CQD Instructors. Each of these instructors have gone through the rigorous six weeks of Instructor Forging and Training to ensure the highest quality training for NSW operators. An added value of the Instructor Training has been its ability to develop core values in the operators’ professional and personal lives. The system and its methods of training fostered high moral and ethical standards, providing proper examples for students, as well as student counseling/mentorship when necessary. These instructors have in turn trained thousands of SEALs and support personnel in one of the most sought after and successful courses in NSW.

The overall benefit for NSW has been tactical integration and continuity on both East and West coasts, as well as the development of individual unarmed to armed skills to the formation of the team, utilized in any operational environment.

For over two decades, CQD has been utilized with great success in all areas of NSW on-target missions including Direct Action Assault; Special Reconnaissance; Combating Terrorism; Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS)/Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO); Special Operations in Urban Combat (SOUC); and land warfare. The CQD techniques and tactics have been the NSW standard for improved community interoperability, providing the Teams with efficient tactics, techniques, remediation, validation and a high level of quality control.

The SEALs themselves, from Team-level operators to senior leadership, have proclaimed on over six thousand critiques, numerous End-of-Training Reports, and operational After-Action Reports that their CQD training directly aided mission success and was a key component in saving lives – both operator and civilian.

Federal Agencies

Unprecedented level
of interoperability


For over two decades, CQD® has had a successful training and operational relationship with numerous federal agencies based on recommendations from former students from the SEAL/SOF community. CQD began training select members of these Agencies in Protective Operations and on a number of occasions, Mr. Dieter was personally tasked to deploy to high-threat locations around the world. During these deployments there were some significant operational successes utilizing all aspects of the system. Furthermore, due to the integrated nature and interoperability components inherent within the CQD System, there were many instances of successful joint operations between these Federal Agencies and SEAL/SOF forces.

As a result of CQD’s operational success, senior leaders within these groups recognized the value of the training and CQD was tasked to provide one to six week training courses as a pre-deployment requirement. The training was able to undeniably evaluate the operators’ suitability for deployment based on technical skill and appropriate use of force and created an unprecedented level of interoperability amongst students with a variety of training backgrounds and skill levels. The success of the CQD training program with these Federal Agencies is validated by over four thousand critiques and numerous senior leader statements and After-Action Reports proclaiming its operational relevance and applicability.

Throughout this time period, CQD taught initial and advanced courses to various SEAL Teams on the East Coast. Due to CQD’s success and overwhelming Federal agencies trained in CQD include the State Department’s Mobile Security Division (MSD), U.S. Air Marshals, U.S. Secret Service, DEA and other Government Agencies.

Law Enforcement

Instilling integrity and
confidence for a
challenging profession


CQD® has an extensive history training law enforcement officers – from SWAT to narcotics/undercover agents and patrol officers – in various federal, state and local agencies.

The CQD System was first utilized operationally by Mr. Dieter, and those law enforcement officers he trained, as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force during the late 1980s. During this period the training greatly aided these officers on numerous occasions with many successful high-risk apprehensions, all accomplished with appropriate and justifiable force.

As CQD spread, components of the system were utilized and adopted in various state and local police departments. The integrated components of unarmed, armed, and suspect/prisoner control skills, from individual to team, allow officers to properly recognize and appropriately respond to compliant, non-compliant and combative threats. Law Enforcement Officers and departments have further relied upon CQD’s Validation and Accountability Drills to uniquely hone the officer’s ability to utilize justifiable and appropriate force. As a result, CQD has been utilized with great success, and under the most stringent use of force applications has had no force control incidents or injuries for either officers or suspects.

Numerous officers and teams throughout the country have come directly to the CQD training facility, as well as Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) have been sent to their headquarters locations. These courses are customized specifically for each law enforcement group and the commitment of time they can allocate to training.