Course Review: Multidisciplinary Optimization Course at SBG Athens, Georgia

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“I’m not interested in selling you a fear-based approach to self defense.”

Paul Sharp

Imagine my excitement when I read on Instagram that the one and only Paul Sharp of Straight Blast Gym and Sharp Defense fame would be coming to Athens, GA to put on an 8-hour version of his MDOC coursework.

The two day, eight hour seminar was hosted at Straight Blast Gym, Athens. Even though the seminar was intended only for the SBG tribe, I was able to beg my way in by asking nicely and producing a credit card.

Paul is on my short list of trainers who I will do everything in my power to train with when they travel to the Atlanta area.

What is a Multidisciplinary Optimization Course (MDOC)?

Since I don’t have Paul’s definition available, I’ll take the liberty to attempt a summary. MDOC teaches the student to navigate the initial criminal-interview process, weather a physical clash (either preemptively or defensively), gain control of the opponent, and then disengage or neutralize as needed. The physical skills taught use a streamlined MMA (mixed martial arts) delivery system that are robust enough to work even in a weapons based environment (knives and guns) with multiple opponents in play.

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This was an interesting course for me to take because of the students. All of the other students in the course were members of SBG Athens. They all had varying levels of BJJ, Judo, and MMA with minimal formal firearms training. The situation is usually reversed when I’ve seen this material in the past. There are usually lots of gun folks. It changed the dynamic of the course.

Going into the course, I was curious to see how Paul would tailor the course to the student base, and how the students would integrate their existing skillsets with the more ‘street’ oriented material. I think they all did a great job, and I saw a lot of lightbulb moments for the students.

“This bad guy is a black-belt in getting what he wants using his verbal skills and victim selection skills. Don’t get pulled into his game.”

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Topics:

  • Discussion of how bad guys do business
  • How do we deselect ourselves? How do we fail the criminal interview process?
  • Managing Unknown Contacts (talking to people we don’t know in public)
  • Preemptive striking to seize the initiative
  • A default defensive position into…
  • A boxing blast, a clinch (standing grapple) to a position of control…
  • A few strikes and throws from control positions
  • Dealing with two attackers at once using the control positions
  • Impact weapon defense (once the knife has already stuck you/worst case)
  • Firearm defense at contact distance
  • Working off of a wall (no maneuver room)
  • Putting it all together

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Things I took from the Course

I’ve seen this material in various packagings from Paul and the Shivworks Collective since 2010. So the material was a good refresher, but it wasn’t novel for me. That said, I got a lot of teaching points and tidbits from Paul’s presentation that will be useful for me going forward. Most are points that Paul brought up, and some are my comments when hearing Paul’s lecture. I’ll list a few key points.

  • Mindset Lectures are the depressing (and necessary) dark side of the self-defense world. It’s possible to get students to grasp the ‘mindset’ side without dwelling on negativity. What are you willing to fight for?
  • It’s not about who’s in front of you (the bad guy), but who is behind you (your family, friends, and getting home to them). So don’t focus as much on fear of the bad guys, but love for your people. It’s healthier.
  • In polite-society, we have trouble being assertive and appearing to be rude. Practice and repetition make you better at it. It’s OK to be rude.
  • If you have a base in sports grappling and striking, all you need to do is ‘throw some dirt into your game’ and you’ll win most fights.
  • Give the bad guys credit. They are running a calculus of benefit/cost of interacting with you. They also suffer the same physiological effects when preparing to spring their ambush (pre assault cues). Learn them and you can see a problem before it materializes.
  • Sports MMA people have the skillset to survive in the gym, why wouldn’t that apply in a street context?
  • Words mean things. Saying, “I’m Sorry” is bad if you don’t mean it. Try instead, “I apologize”. Placate an aggressor, but don’t completely relent to their dominance.
  • Posture and Body Language is a critical selection criteria. Own the ground you walk on. You only have to look like a hard target for a few passing seconds to fail the selection process.
  • Children abduction point: Teach kids to scream “This isn’t my dad/mom!” to draw attention. Teach your kids to listen to their gut. Don’t ignore when a child recoils from a certain person. Don’t tell them to ‘be nice’. Instead, shrug your shoulders and say “kids will be kids”, and keep an eye on that person. They haven’t yet had their innate danger alarm suppressed.Recommended Reading from Paul:
    The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift

Thank you to Rory and Adam Singer of SBG, and all the students for welcoming in the outsider and making me feel like part of the tribe.

If you’d like to train with Paul, his email is straightblastgymillinois@gmail.com

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Range Master – Tactical Conference 2016

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Last October, the announcement went out on Facebook that the Range Master 2016 tactical conference was sold out. It was to be another missed opportunity for me to attend a historic meeting of the minds. Out of the blue, Lynn Givens (wife of Range Master’s Tom Givens) told me that I was coming. She and Tom invited me to attend completely free of charge. I would later find out that I had been the first recipient of the Range Master – Todd Louis Green Scholarship. This is an honor I’m not sure I deserved. This morning (3/15/16), we learned of Todd’s passing after a valiant 10 year battle with cancer. Donate to his charity here. It was an emotional weekend for me, and one that I won’t forget.

The schedule and topics for this year are here.

I attended:

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  • Tom Givens – Defining the Threat

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  • Craig Douglas – Experiential Learning Lab (photos prohibited)
  • Tom Givens – Shotgun Fundamentals

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  • Tom Givens – Active Shooters: an Overview

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This was a tremendous opportunity for me and a rare chance to see my friends in the community. The real gold of these things is being around all of the great minds and being able to meet up with friends (old and new). Literally the best in the business presented and attended. I am the little fish in the pond, and that’s where I’m comfortable being.

Thanks to The Tactical Professor for always being a great driving buddy.

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I encourage you to try to make it to one one soon, and I hope to see you there.

Photos and Videos below.

Here are the videos I captured:

Here are some more choice photos I was able to take.

Range Master 2016

 

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AAR: The Complete Combatant

I was lucky enough to be able to attend The Complete Combatant 8 hour course at Fusion MMA in Marietta, Georgia this Sunday. The course was taught by Coach Brian Hill and several assistants. Brian has decades of martial arts experience and has trained and holds teaching degrees in Karate, Jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, Tae kwon Do, Mixed Martial Arts, Kickboxing, Pistol, Rifle, Precision Shooting, Sword and Edged Weapons. His relaxed and attentive teaching style and deep understanding of martial arts make him a competent instructor worthy of your training dollar. I’ll post a few pictures and share a few of my thoughts and impressions.

Coach Brian explaining the Thai plum and knees

This is a very ambitious 8 hour course. The topics introduced could fill a 40 hour training week. I personally think that the most valuable part of the day was Coach Brian’s morning lecture. A discussion of criminal actors, their disinterest in abiding by the laws of polite society, and how we can prepare and deselect ourselves as prey was the opening topic. A ‘meta-strategy’ was framed early, with a whiteboard discussion of decision making and options at each given point in an assault. As can be guessed, we have the most options as we are mobile and controlling interpersonal space, and quickly lose options based on our physical position, level of entanglement, and tools being used. Coach Brian also made the very good point the most problems aren’t shooting, stabbing, or fighting problems, but talking problems. He encouraged the class to avoid ‘the monkey dance’ of chest thumping and machisimo, and disengage at every opportunity. A battle avoided is a battle won.

Some standing grappling. The headbands were from a previous drill where both partners were blindfolded to learn to grapple ‘by feel’. Alternatively: we are Karate masters, you choose.

There was no shortage of physical drilling and practicing technique. I was sidelined and didn’t participate in most of it, but I had fun watching the students learn. It was very much drinking from a firehose in terms of the amount of techniques introduced in short order. There was a mix of MMA guys and gun guys in the class, and Coach Brian paced the class accordingly. I think the MMA guys learned some things about their gear, like how nylon holsters are a waste of your money, and the gun guys learned they should put in some time to become more physically fit and maybe get on the mats regularly. I’m sure all of the students took away something useful from the course. I did.

Retention shooting discussion

Topics:

  • Introduction to the ‘meta-strategy’ of self defense
  • Discussion of each students daily carry and priorities
  • Dealing with unknowns and maintaining space
  • Basic standing and grounded striking and defense
  • Basic standing and grounded grappling in a weapon based environment
  • Edged weapon basics
  • Tourniquet use
  • Entangled standing and grounded firearm use
  • Scenarios
  • Others that I forgot, I’m sure
Using the guard to maneuver on the ground

Thanks to Brian and Shelley of Fusion MMA for letting me hang out. Now, get out there and train.

DD

 

Course Review: Basic Threat Management

Being mentored by someone as accomplished as Claude Werner (The Tactical Professor) definitely has its perks. Last Monday, we took a trip to a local gun club to get some work done. The two objectives of the day were to get baseline times and scores before I start his yet-to-be-released dry fire program (I’ll keep you updated on the developments) and to demo his Basic Threat Management coursework. We discuss course flow and clarity of drills, etc. This post is about my thoughts on his Basic Threat Management 3 hour course.

I don’t pretend to speak for Claude, but we discussed his reasoning for designing this course and I couldn’t agree more. It is an easy task to google dozens of bad defensive gun uses with negative outcomes that come down to poor threat management. Often (read: Usually) the marksmanship shooting problem isn’t that complicated. It comes down to decisions, vocalization, and identification. Many mistaken identity shootings could have been prevented with some vocalization and a flashlight. Here’s one example of a man shooting his daughter as she sneaked back in after a late night. I wonder how a, “Who is it!?” and a flashlight might have changed this tragic event?

This course is designed for newer shooters and is packaged in a very doable 3 hour block. There isn’t any complicated shooting problems, no timers, just simple task-loading that puts just enough stress on a new shooter to have to work through it and think. Ultimately they feel challenged, accomplished, and empowered. They leave with a sense that they don’t know it all, but they have some things to work on and know what they can practice when they go home. The 3 hour course is a great length for new shooters. Attention spans falter and flinches develop after about 150 rounds and 3 hours for most people. Claude has identified this and works with it.

As with all of Claude’s courses, he starts with a baseline course of fire to evaluate the student’s fundamentals based on some sort of standard, usually derived from a law enforcement standard.

The meat of the course revolves around the following:

  • Challenge – For the average gun owner, the gun comes out when they hear the bump in the night or are confronted out and about. A vocalization and a low ready is an important skill to learn.
  • Engage or No Shoot – Decide if you need to shoot the target based on identifiers called. Requires thinking with a gun.
  • Stand Down – Either you realized it was a family member, or you shot the bad guy until he stopped. It’s time to lower the gun and decide what to do next.
  • Police! – If the po-po shows up while you have a gun in your hand, you had better know how to interact with them. Hint: Turning around with a gun in your hand isn’t the right answer.
  • Flashlights – Learn how to use a light with a gun in your hand, and learn how to shoot one handed.

After Claude and I parted ways, he gave me the drills and I took them home to demo with my family who were in town for the holidays. I had my Sister, Brother-in-law, Mother-I-L, and Father-I-L. All of which are relative novices. I ran them through the drills and they were challenged and had a great time. They all said they learned something and that they were looking forward to more training. Mission accomplished!

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My Father-in-law, who hasn’t shot a pistol since Vietnam. He’s never shot one handed and never shot with a light in his hand. I’m proud of him!

If you’re interested, or are willing to spread the word, Claude is teaching this class on January 12 at Norcross Gun Club. Tell him Growing Up Guns sent ya!

Bonus: My sister smokin’ a fool, right before the police show up…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhPx6C0OSjM?list=UU9V4ymRxGkQSt3AhmKTwkuQ]