Friday, May 20, 2016

Starting a Training Group pt 4

In Part 3 we talked about the tasks and mindset the group organizer would need to practice. So now lets get down to brass tacks about the precise structure we have found most useful.

It's been my experience that both in our group and others I have seen form that there is a tendency to try to do too much. Both time wise and with regards to content. Often guys want to get together and try to completely recreate a full day of training, or maybe a "short day" of "only" 4 or 6 hours. Ouch.

Not only is that a large block of time for someone to put aside on a regular basis (and these need to be regular if they are to be useful) but without flight time instructing its very difficult to keep people usefully on track over that period of time. We used to do longer days, they required quite the time commitment and I don't feel like we got as much use out of one 4 hour session as two 2 hour sessions a week apart.

"If you want to teach someone nothing, show them everything"
~Shawn Williams

For a group that meets once a month I think 2 hours is the sweet spot. Short enough that you don't need a long break, but long enough to get a lot of focused work in. Its a good size where it doesn't kill a busy persons day with a huge time commitment. If you cant put aside 2 hours once a month, its simply not something your really interested in improving on. Don't focus on the time per block, but on the number of sessions over time. It's long term skill development that matters. 

To form the basic format I start with an idea of what live training at the end is going to look like. Not every session has to have a fully contextual beat down, in fact that is super time consuming and while great for occasional testing not the best for skill development. If, like I mentioned in the last installment, you want to work on escaping side mount like the final evo from ECQC TD2, then start by thinking about what that evolution looks like.

From there the question is what skills does a participant need to have precisely to have a positive outcome. What does a successful evolution look like? In this case you need to be able to effectively hip bridge, and hip escape, form a frame, and get your opponent off of you. Then create space to stand and/or to produce a weapon.

Now you have an idea of what physical skills you'll need, and the bulk of the time will be spent repping those out by gradually building one step on top of the other with layers of resistance and context slowly added and removed. Knowing exactly what movements to use, technical details to focus on, and how to adjust by what you see in the group will take flight time. Be patient. Your on a long road.

With the focus we are using we may choose some positional sparring. Given context a useful exercise for us was one I call the "5 second get up" .  Its just what it sounds like. I grab a shot timer with a 5 sec PAR. I have one guy start flat on his back and another on his knees next to him. At the start beep the top guy drops and tries to keep bottom guy pinned while bottom guy needs to explosively escape. Contextually this can be framed as the need to escape before a second guy arrives or the urgency one needs when blows are reigning down and you cant spend another moment getting beat on. I suggest several of these short rounds each before switching top/bottom. The goal is to get the participant as many exposures to this sliver of the whole as possible.

We have gotten skill work, practiced technique, and amped up with some live training inside a limited scope. Short break and back to the drilling but now work in access a weapon. Sometimes you get the weapon out and use it then get up, sometimes you get up then get the weapon. 

Then we can recreate that grounded evolution we started out working towards.

What follows are some outlines for sessions. As we go I would time parts, Trim where needed, add in other places. Remove and pair down the techniques, and otherwise sharpen the structure. I'm sure most of the terms and such will be gibberish to those who haven't been training with Shivworks Mafia , and that is just fine. 

Default Position in Managing Unknown Contacts (muc) Safety brief and pat down (10 min) Discussion on the Criminal Assault Paradigm (cap) and the focus of the days session (10 min) note: this sessions focus is on the moment we are caught by suprise, initiating is a seprate block Review main elements (15 min) High compressed fence, arcing movement, gradiated verbal response Role play warm up, encroachment (15 min) Review default position and sucker punch drill with partner (20 min) <break 15 min> Driving in from default drilling (15 min) Limited live training (20 Min) limited space for the focus, prefer against a wall, encroachment starts at sucker punch range, focus on short goes and break after entanglement/contact. prefer mixing of partners and a conveyor belt or up/down/out, constant work and lots of reps.
Initiating from MUC Safety brief and pat down (10) Review of focus of session (5) We are looking at a situation in which we are approached by someone we do not know in a enviroment that would support a crime, the totality of circumstances has led us to choose to act first. Note: there are many takes on this, from eye jabs to more a detailed boxing blast, all have there advantages and defeicits, this is imply my take on it for our group. Warm up pad work (15) "diving board" jab/cross Footwork pad work (15) 1-step to cut angle -2 <break 15> MUC role play with pads (20) Encroaching role player is to raise pads during MUC, focus is to throw, step, and hit again. We are looking to develop the hit and MOVE, encourage thinking and options. We can break range to flanks, shoot for takedown, deploy a weapon, or strike again. MUC role play with pads and second guy (20) Groups of 3. No pressure from 2nd guy, looking for focus to make correct choices for flanking and stacking opponents. Live training (20) Focus with rear foot on wall, cannot move until they initiate. Enctoachment issue with helmet and gloves approaches, looking to strike if they get close enough. Focus desired end state is to hit and get off the wall. Short repeated goes. Get multiple reps in before switching.
Standing Grapple in the Weapons Based Enviroment (WBE) Safety brief and pat down (10 min) Review focus of session (5 min) We are looking at navigating a collision of bodies in a WBE in order to acess or denie access to weapons and safely break contact. Warm up, cutting the corner and swimming underhooks (consensual, non competitive) (10 min) Double unders competitive (10 min) Review wizzer to break double unders and drill (10 min) Boney edge, lower level, cut corner, swim Review underhook, overhook, ties and a strategy of getting to underhook/bicep tie (5 min) Underhook / Tie competitive (10 min) <break 15 min> Review and drill strategies from hoo/tie (15 min) Duck under on underhook side Duck under from wrist tie Arm drag Tie ups Partner access non competitive and technical work (15 Min) Can use hard trainers as appropriate. One is trying to access, one trying to deny access. This is a "slow roll", 20%, should be able to use good technique and strategy, not out of breathe and able to speak to opponent. Live training from neutral clinch (15 min) Focus is looking to access weapon and break contact. Note: can break ANS THEN access or access first, keep an eye on breaking in front of opponent.
Attached Edged Weapons Safety brief and pat down (10) Warm up review of IFWA and standing grapple, technical drilling (20) Review hook/tie strategy, need for timing access, nearest hand under control, "cheating IFWA with the short center line fixed blade" where the rules get bent, opening of the folder and more strict access Non consensual competitive access from neutral clinch (15) <break 15> Point driven methodology attached (15 min) Reverse, forward, and punch grips throwing with hips, setting up shots, targeting considerations, nok knives only and review safety with how hard we can hit with them. Train technical to IFWA and then live for 2-3 good hits OR technical depending on group Defense against the deployed blade drilling(30 min) Wrist tie to baseball bat and hip switch to take down or break range (contextually dependent choices) Entangled body lock Live training from clinch (15 min)
Pistol Disarms Safety brief and pat down (10) Review of session focus (10) Worst case scenerio, disproportinate armorment, cover realistic gun holds and ask about anyone being robbed at gunpoint. Role play getting hands into play from hold up (10) Review moving body AND muzzle to get off line of fire, drill from hold up (20) < break 10> Technical disarm drilling (20) Bring into core, extend opponent if possible, set bite, out thumb side. Review 1 and 2 hand holds and different positions. Ring game (20 min) Cicle on ground, 2 enter, each hanve one hand on short PVC pipe. 15 sec PAR (can adjust, shot timer works best). 3 ways to win: 1- push opponent out of ring , 2 - take pipe , 3 - take down with dominate position. Multiple goes, fast pace. Live training (20) 
Fist helmets and SIm guns. Start focus in corner in gun hold, work from role play to get to escape/disarm

That's enough to get you started. You already picked a date for that first session, right?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Starting a Training Group pt 3

We've discussed the need for a crew and some of the challenges we will meet in Part 1 and Part 2. So lets talk about you now. Yes, you.

Someone needs to take the lead.

This is a precarious position to be in. It can have several personal development lessons, and a lot of it depends on where you are in relation to understanding the material you want to work on. In the early days I tried to mainly cast myself as an organizer. I want to get this training in, so I set up the time and place. I bring the gear, I choose an agenda, and we show up and do work. There is some structure like this, but its mainly just setting up the circumstances so that training can happen.

In my experience this approach is highly effective given what you have to work with. Its a fuckton better than having someone with only a rough understanding trying to mimic an instructor and play teacher. There's plenty of that out in the world, and I've yet to be impressed with any of its product. On the other hand I've seen plenty of guys that where honest about their limitations who consistently put in effort and stayed humble come through like a wrecking ball.

As an organizer it will be your job first and foremost to pick the time and place. Do not do this by group discussion. Everyone's schedules wont line up. Someone will make a big deal out of day and time then get a last minute emergency. There will be traffic that day, its my kids birthday, my wife needs a ride to work, and on and on and on. We have lives, all of us, you cant make everyone happy. Pick a time and place that works for you and sounds reasonable. Don't worry about everyone showing up, keep this going and they will have another chance to train in the future. Try to please everyone and no one gets to train.

Any place will do. We have trained in muddy yards, gravel ranges, old abandoned trailers, baseball fields and parks. Today we are proud to train in a world class facility at Stout Training Pittsburgh / Team Renzo Gracie but it took years to get this legit.

Your next job is to pick a topic. I will lay out some guidelines and formats in the next post that will be more specific in this regard. The topic should be a sliver of the overall picture. We need to develop a focus for these sessions for them to be of use. If perhaps at your last ECQC you really struggled getting trapped in side control during the grounded evolution (its like I'm a mind reader! ) then escapes from side control would be a good choice.

Then we come to the day of the event. Get started on time, and keep to the schedule. This may be the hardest part. People are often late. I think personally that's disrespectful. But these are semi formal, and I'm happy they show up at all, so I keep it to myself (I've gotten a lot better!). Just start when the time comes, late people play catch up. Keeping on task is the part that takes some personality. In this sort of semi formal setting we cannot bark orders, and without the participants having payed money we cannot expect them to give their full attention the way they would in a class setting. But we must stay on task. Too much side talk, guys wanting to experiment, these distractions take away from the efficiency of using the time you have. If I'm going to dedicate a block of my busy life to this it needs to be useful, and if I want to respect the time of those I hope to train with I need to deliver. If guys want to hang out after and dick around, or get together for unstructured time to work on something that's great! I encourage that! But when we are getting together to do work we need to bring our focus and get at it.

If you have people who have experience in some areas work with them on presenting the material. Perhaps you set the time, place, and do all the organizing but there is a guy in your group who was an amateur boxer that your going to have present some material during your striking session. It is important to differ to experience and recruit support. We need to be able to promote information sharing and group effort while we keep structure and drive.

I highly suggest using video for review. Video of everything. Get some of the drilling, any demo's, instructional, presentation, and live training. Its been very developmentally helpful for me to take video of me presenting the material and then reviewing that video with my coaches. Over the years it is amusing to me to watch me present a piece on a topic from a few years ago and then watch that same presentation now and see how much I've been able to tune it up and the level of my apparent comfort in the delivery grow. When watching live training if you see a failure point over and over and then go back and see how they where drilling, or if it was addressed (and how!) in the demo can really help us install the techniques better. I prefer for ease of sharing to upload videos to youtube on unlisted links and then be able to send that link where it needs to go. If you set them as unlisted they can only view them with the link, its not searchable, and we can watch it anywhere from any device with internet access without worrying about file types and sizes. It doesnt need to be production quality film making, just good enough to review and learn from.

For the sake of using time wisely  I suggest after training review and feedback be done outside of the training session. I've used a lot of different tools for this. Early on we did email chains, later a friend of mine was kind enough to provide a private section on an online discussion forum he ran. After that forum was gone I had a hidden forum on my website we used. Now I use a private facebook group. Its free, its easy to access, and its easy to add people to and use.

In part 4 I will share the ancient secret forbidden knowledge passed down through esoteric kata based on the movements of pandas giving birth and we will look at formats and some of the exercises we use.

Part 4

Antifragile Training

Monday, May 9, 2016

Starting a Training Group pt 2

In Part 1 we talked a bit about getting together the people to make a group.
So then, who are these lunatics we need to get moving and how do we find them?

This journey for me started soon after my first formal shooting course with some old school gunsite guys with mustache's and funny hats. Those guys where pretty cool, and while we parted ways on a lot of the technical aspects of shooting they taught me some very real and relevant lessons. They instilled in me from the start a strong foundation for safely handling a gun and appreciation for training. It was in those courses that I met a couple guys I really hit it off with. We would hang out, go shooting, grill on the range, and generally have a good time.

At some point we decided that we wanted to do more than shoot. We wanted to do cool stuff. We wanted to know about knives, and fighting with guns. We heard the term "force on force" and it sounded awesome. Long story short we found a guy who advertised that he taught this stuff and we all chipped in brought him out. We had a great time, and decided the next month we would get together and practice this stuff.

The important part here isn't the story of those early days, or the many paths since then to where we are now. The important part is that NOT ONE of those original guys is still training with me today.

Not one.

People get lives, have children, get married, get jobs in other states, have life show up in all sorts of ways. When we are forming a training group it is less important that we find just the right people, or people we think will stick around. The important part is simply that we find people and get started.

Never stop recruiting. New people are the life blood of any organization.Welcome them, be glad for them, without them we have no future. There was a lot of talk early on about having prerequisites, that we wouldn't invite anyone out that didn't have X hours of formal training or got recommended by someone in the group. It was all with good intention, and it would have killed us.

I have had the distinct advantage of hosting courses. Over the years anyone who seemed like minded in a shooting course got invited out. That brought a lot of us together. But the sources of folks who are involved now is greatly varied. Do good work and those seeking it will find you out. That's the premise I operate on. I show up and do the very best I can to facilitate something of value, and I don't keep it secret.

I don't think there is a magic recipe or anything to finding people. The folks that want to do this sort of work are a rare breed. Getting people just to take a real hard hitting course is one thing, getting them to show up regularly to get beat on is quite another. If your going to do this thing you have to commit to it. Understand there will be days where no one shows up. Understand its going to take time and energy. It can be thankless at times, and greatly rewarding at others. Some people will no show on you, others will surprise you with their drive and commitment. Its a long road. Understand its going to be worth it.

Which also leads us into another tricky part. A group needs an organizer. Notice my word choice. I didn't want to teach originally. I just wanted guys I could train with. But without structure what we had was a bunch of guys get distracted, going off course, not using time effectively. We lost some good people in those days, it just wasn't quality use of time for busy people who really wanted to train and not just fuck around. At some point it got more and more formal, and with more and more structure it needed more and more someone to facilitate that. To keep an agenda and keep us on track. This was awkward for me in the beginning, but as the positive feedback loop began it became more comfortable. People where grateful for the work I put in, and that let me know it was ok to take the lead.

Someone has to step up. You don't need to play instructor, you don't need a mastery of the material. What you do need is strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility. You need to be honest about your limitations and rigorous in your ability to review your work. I have found these traits to be the hardest to cultivate. The rest of it comes only with time and practice.

Part 3

Antifragile Training

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Starting a Training Group

The weekend class is the standard format for most firearms and self defense courses, and for good reason. It gives the average practitioner an opportunity to get time in with any of a vast array of high quality professional instructors who specialize in traveling to convenient nearby locations for relatively little time commitment and reasonable market prices.

The issue though, is what happens after the class. What happens between the basic shooting course you take this summer and the more intensive one you take next? Or, for our purposes, what work have you done between the beat down Craig Douglas brought to you and the next time you audit your skillset, or between the course and the time you need to perform.

For shooting skills the path is fairly easy to access. Hit the range, practice the skills you learned, log your progress and score some standard shooting drills and you'll see improvement. If you want to truly get exceptional at shooting start shooting practical shooting sports such as USPSA.

For weight lifting its simple too. Want to get stronger? Get some good coaching on your form, download the Stronglifts app and pick heavy things up and put them back down. You will get stronger. Need a bigger gas tank? Plenty of cardio waiting out there for you.

All our discreet skill sets are fairly straightforward to access. Got a hole in your ground game? Find a legit BJJ school and get to work. Gotta work hands? Boxing. Do some research, find legit schools and get in with a solid MMA program.

But what if what you really need to do is work on your In Fight Weapons Access (IFWA as per Craig)? What if waht really drives you is the need to fight a dude in a car with a simunition gun? Did you go to a practical knife class like the ones offered by Chris Fry and now you need to practice that stuff?

Well, then you need a crew of liked minded lunatics who don't look at you like you have 3 heads when you say you need to work on escaping the bottom of a boot party with a gun in you belt. You need a crew that thinks that sounds like a damn good time! You need a fucking training group! We cannot do this alone.

Its a little bit more involved though than just finding a couple guys to throw down with. That's the first piece of the puzzle, but then where we go from there takes a great deal of work and time. We have to talk about time commitment, study materials, long term sustainability, formats, and more.

Over the last decade or so I've made every damn mistake I can imagine on this path. I've tried a great many approaches, spent a great deal of time trying to get good at stuff that's not functional under pressure, and had friends come and go in this training group journey. For the folks looking to get that started, I'm going to share my experience and thoughts on this process with you over a couple of posts. I'm going to attempt to organize my thoughts on the subject and all the things I've been able to share with others when they ask me about this.

Lets get to work!

Part 2

Antifragile Training