Paul Gomez 1971 – 2012

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” —Ernest Hemingway

Paul (Photo credit unknown. Used with respect.)

Trainer Paul Gomez recently passed from this world unexpectedly and far too soon. Paul was well known in the training community for his top-notch courses and involvement with many other premiere schools and trainers. His loss is a palpable blow to our community. The Facebook pages of associates, profiles of friends, and forums where Paul was known have brimmed over with fond reminiscence, great stories, and awesome photos of Paul, attesting to both how respected, and cared for, he was by students, colleagues, and friends. We are all saddened, and will be saddened again each time we turn toward the familiar, only to find the space hollow and lacking.
I associated with Gomez for nearly ten years, through the internet community, in passing at first and then personally via email and on the phone. I don’t think I realized, until now, how much influence the association and distanced friendship had on me, in everything from my pistol work to medical practices to my taste in music, film, literature and ugly shirts. It occurs to me now that there are few days in which I don’t do something, read something, listen to something or otherwise act on or based in something I learned from Paul Gomez. From the Leather Arsenal IWB my pistol rides in, to the Hawaiian shirt on my back, to the Cowboy Junkies on my iPod. It will always be a regret of mine that I never met Gomez face-to-face, and never had the opportunity to train with him. The assumption that the opportunity would come was always there, and now, that assumption is wrong. I have true sorrow at that.
I didn’t talk with him enough, I am terrible at keeping up with people, but I truly enjoyed and always learned from the (too short) hours spent on the phone, and the email exchanges on everything from bowie knives to sporks. Gomez was a customer, before I’d really hung up a shingle, and I am still proud that something I worked on found a place in his tools. I benefited from his work, writing and friendship, and felt honored by his counsels. Shortly after the first Self Care in the Tactical Environment class, Gomez called to ask how it went, and we talked shop about teaching medical skills, and he passed on some excellent ideas and advice – There was no competition, not an iota of the proprietary bullshit “I teach this genre of class, I’m the best at it, I’ll share nothing” attitudes that infect this community, simply interest and helpful enthusiasm for the work of putting high value medical skills into shooters minds and hands.
Gomez’ dedication to refining and delivering valuable, life-saving, information was immense, and the amount of time he spent giving freely is incalculable. Paul was happy simply learning and sharing knowledge. Sharing some time with him was to know that infectious joy of talking shop, and seeking answers. I remember Paul taking the time to photocopy this article or that book, and mail the pages, even loaning me a few books (that I returned woefully late, though with nary a snarky word from Paul about it) from the shortest spark of conversation.
Through various internet forums, in particular Total Protection Interactive, and most recently via Facebook and his YouTube channel, Paul put a remarkable amount of knowledge out there for anyone willing to receive it and do the work to make good on it. That knowledge is still there for the benefit of anyone who takes that time. I can think of no greater way to remember the man, than to make the best use we can of what he left behind.

Gomez Training International (Note the Articles section)
Gomez on YouTube – A great collection of knowledge on video

I’m going to miss Paul. We all will. We’re poorer for his loss, and are truly diminished across many fronts. The loss to the firearms, tactical and personal protection training community is enormous, and obvious. More the communities he participated in and the days of friends will be a little dimmer without his humor, extensive historical and cultural knowledge (earning him the moniker of Encyclopedia Paul-itanica) , travel observations and truly excellent taste in music helping round things out. I can only imagine the loss to those who knew him personally, and were close to him. My thoughts, and the thoughts of everyone here, are with his family, children and loved ones.

Vaya con Gnome, sir. Thank you for it all

4 responses to “Paul Gomez 1971 – 2012”

  1. Kyle says:

    I am going to get one of those tactical gnomes mitt AK in his honor and put it in my backyard under a dwarf Japanese Maple.

    What a great guy. When I saw that he had passed I immediately logged on to TPI. I have barely engaged with the site for some time, sticking to merely reading, but nearly every thread I reviewed in which I had a comment, Paul had dropped either some knowledge or witticism.

    I only spoke with him on the phone once, in 2006, when I was attempting to get him up for an AK class in the Seattle area. I wasn’t able to swing a facility, so it fell through, but we talked for a good hour and a half about trainers in the Northwest, AK operation, and he asked me some tremendous questions about how I do things as a southpaw.

    An extremely inspirational, challenging, and positive guy. The world is diminished without him.

    • BFE Labs says:

      “and he asked me some tremendous questions about how I do things as a southpaw.”
      That was one of Paul’s real strengths. The man could ask fan-fucking-tastic questions. Questions that would lead me to re-evaluating my own answers, questions that drove new and different questions, just the best of questions. There is such a thing as a stupid question, and if that has a direct opposite, that was Paul’s kind of question.

      I need one of those gnomes too. I just remembered I have an “Everything I know about AK’s I learned from a Garden Gnome” shirts packed away somewhere. Gotta dig that out and start wearing it.

      • Kyle says:

        Exactly. Never even a hint of “I do it this way, it’s more robust, try it/do it,” always a “How did you arrive at that? What advantages do you feel that it has?” And then some great information that you haven’t thought about or quite thought about it in that fashion.

        “Learning is a good thing, but more often it leads to mistakes.
        It is like the admonition of the priest Konan. It is worthwhile
        just looking at the deeds of accomplished persons for the purpose
        of knowing our own insufficiencies. But often this does not
        happen. For the most part, we admire our own opinions and
        become fond of arguing.”

        – Hagakure

  2. house says:

    RIP brother…I will miss our discussions about lesbian folk singers and AKs.

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