About Our Directors

Ernie Kirk

Ernie Kirk (KMU West Chester, PA) is the President of Krav Maga Universal and a 5th Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga. He was among the first group to become a licensed instructor in 1997. He was the first person from this group to become a “Train the Trainer” instructor and the first to receive his Krav Maga Black Belt. He was formerly Head of the Advisory Board for Krav Maga Worldwide and has trained with top Krav Maga instructors from all over the world including several weeks of advanced training and certification in Israel which has gained him the role of Wingate Institute liaison for North America.

Ernie is trained in tactical pistol and carbine, has worked extensively with military and law enforcement agencies in small unit tactics, room entries, downed vehicle tactics, techniques and procedures. He has also completed courses in Direct Action Denied Area Operations, Close Quarter Combat, Hand-to-Hand Combat, Simunition Scenarios, Empty Hand-to-Weapon Transitions, Resister Control and Handcuffing, Weapon Retention, Combatant Control, and Control of Aggressive Subjects.

Ernie is a former schoolteacher who has been training in the Martial Arts for over 30 years. He is a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido, a Black Belt in Goju-Kai, Combat Karate and Judo and holds an advanced brown Belt in Aikido. Besides having Kickboxed for 15 years, he is also experienced with knife defenses and attacks, the kuboton, and restraint and control techniques as used by various police departments.

Ernie Kirk is a Certified Contact Weapon Defense and Control Instructor. He has trained Army rangers, US Air Force personnel, police departments from around the US, UK and Colombia, SWAT teams, Home Land Security, Federal Air Marshals, Secret Service, and the Tactical Officers Association. He has been featured on the Discovery channel, New York Times, Blind Date and worked on the television show HACK.

Recently Ernie has been contracted to teach the Homeland Security Philadelphia Office. He also teaches the instructor cadre and military personnel at Fort Dix military base in New Jersey. Ernie Kirk’s Krav Maga Universal curriculum has been approved and taught at the Air Advisory Academy for military personnel preparing to deploy to the middle east.

In addition to operating his very successful Premier Martial Arts school, he also conducts frequent seminars and workshops for businesses, organizations, local domestic violence centers and police officers.

Tom Whitaker

Tom Whitaker (KMU Collinsville. IL) KMU Regional Director. 3rd Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga & Sr. Instructor for the Wingate Institute in Netanya Israel. Former Boxing & Kickboxing Champions. Member of the Israeli Martial Arts Organization.

Tom Whitaker has been training in martial arts since 1980. He has trained in many arts over the years including boxing, kickboxing, karate, TKD, and various Filipino, Apache, and Military style knife fighting arts. His martial arts achievements include black belts in Shorin-Ryu Karate, the Premier Martial Arts system, American Karate, and Krav Maga. He has also trained and attained instructor certifications in various stick and knife arts. In addition, Mr. Whitaker has won several boxing and kickboxing championships over the years; including the St, Louis Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship and the USA-KIA United States Heavyweight Kickboxing Championship. In the mid 90’s to early 2000’s, Mr. Whitaker served as Head of Security at Excalibur Night Club in the St. Louis area; where he gained real world experience in the realities of violent encounters such as weapon attacks, group brawls, multiple attackers, and ambush scenarios.

Paul Landreth-Smith

Paul Landreth-Smith (Tyler, TX) KMU Director. 1st Degree Black Belt in Krav Maga.

Paul has been training continuously in Martial Arts for 30 years and holds Senior Black Belt grades in Tae Kwon-Do (ITF) and Kickboxing. He also has trained and graded in Aikido, Jiu Jitsu, Tai Jitsu,and BJJ. An experienced competitor won National Titles in Tae Kwon-Do and Freestyle kickboxing as well as competing in full contact Boxing, BJJ and MMA. Paul took this training and competitive experience and applied it during 4 years as a doorman and then 18 years in Law Enforcement where he brings realist experience to his self defense classes. A member of the elite West Yorkshire Police Armed Crime Tactical Team and later SCO19 London Metropolitan SWAT unit he has operational experience of Counter Terrorism, hostage rescue, covert operations and high risk interdictions as well as working in VIP protection. He also was an instructor for the units and played an active role in developing and training officer safety defensive tactics

After moving to the USA Paul is a certified alumni of Masada Tactical VIP protection program, a Texas State Level 4 Personal Protection Officer, NRA Firearms instructor and co-Owner of Elite Firearms and Self Defense a company devoted to making gun owners more competent in their defensive use of firearms.

Paul's Krav Maga training began in 2005 with Ernie Kirk and due to his various geographical locations he has training with and become a certified instructor with Krav Maga Global and Krav Maga Alliance. His first loyalty has always been to Mr Kirk and now assists Krav Maga Universal with general coach development duties as well as leads the KMU LE division and KMU EMS program.