Technique: The Revival of the Outdated Speed Rock on Social Media

The proliferation of Instagram and Youtube shooting sensations has brought with it a disturbing trend. I have noticed that in MANY of the shooting I’ve seen in the 15-60 second cherry picked drills they decide to post, they use the ‘speed rock’ retention position for contact distance shooting. Then they show you their timer to show how quickly they can complete a contact distance drill. This is an oversimplification of the problems that arise in this contact distance situation. I have to set the record straight because people are actually watching this stuff and considering it to still be legitimate technique. Long story short, it’s not.

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Here’s one IG example so we’re on the same page. Watch his posture as he leans back and back pedals away from the target. Boy howdy, he sure is fast!!! Unfortunately, this is more than a speed shooting problem.

Note: This is nothing against this guy. He's a better shooter than I'll ever be. I just don't want people to think this is viable against a resisting opponent. When you get to initiate a sequence against stationary targets with no free will, ANYTHING will work. Add another human and things get more slippery.

#repost from @truexodus Decided to work with my new @lake_county_knife_and_tool pokey device tonight. Just working a few scenarios in my head. Naturally, when fighting with an opponent with arms and weapons things are a bit different. One of the things people tend to forget is that the bad guy doesn’t know or expect you’re carrying a weapon. So when you decide to act, act quickly and with great violence. Please don’t practice shooting from retention. Remember, I’m not a professional. I’m just a no body preacher trying to develop myself by getting out and using the skills I’ve learned from other professionals to increase the likelihood of my success in a deadly force encounter. #trustandard @rubberdummies @salientarmsinternational @lake_county_knife_and_tool @nevadaammunition @trexarms PS: I don’t care if you don’t like rap.

A video posted by Rubber Dummies (@rubberdummies) on

Here’s the issue…The Speed Rock is a POOR technique!

What is the Speed Rock?

From The Tactical Pistol 1996 “The “speed rock” refined for combative use by Chuck Taylor is a last-option technique for arm’s length situation where there is no room to evade or maneuver. The shooter “rocks” the pistol out of the holster and simultaneously “rocks” his torso back to bring the muzzle onto the adversary’s vital zone”

So, 20 years ago, when folks were still really into the Weaver stance and mullets, this was the state of the art. So why was it a technique worth learning back then? It was the attempt to deal with the obvious real problem of a contact distance fight, in which so many police and citizens find themselves. It was an early beta technique which has evolved to higher percentage techniques. Here is a great article on its history.

It is FAST! You need only clear your duty holster, drop your elbow and bow forward at the hips to bring the muzzle slightly above horizontal, and you can start pressing the trigger as you back away. The more you drop your elbow and sacrifice your base with bowed hips, the more the impact zone will rise on the target. I think this is why the IG-speed shooter guys do it. Showing a timer after a drill like this seems impressive to their ignorant followers. Ignorant, not stupid. I’m trying to educate the ignorant.

Apparently it’s still taught by some very decorated guys from the special operations community. I will remind you that being really good at shooting people with a carbine in a military setting doesn’t necessarily directly translate to a criminal assault at a RedBox in front of a gas station when you’re wearing a subcompact gun under a T-shirt. It’s more than a shooting problem, it should be treated as a combative/grappling problem that happens to include weapons.

That, and Tom Cruise did it in Collateral…

Why it Sucks and You Shouldn’t Practice It



  1. The first and most important issue is the complete sacrifice of athletic base to achieve the position. Hips forward, torso back, weight on heels. Bad. This is the EXACT position you want your opponent to be in when you perform a body lock takedown.
  2. It is demonstrably easier to sustain an impact when in an athletic base (weight on balls of feet, nose over the toes, spine in alignment) than when your weight is on your heels (only people tripping over things backwards do this).
  3. The gun is actually NO FURTHER AWAY than it would have been with good technique. You have sacrificed your mobility and ability to sustain impact for ZERO extra distance. Bad trade.
  4. You can not move backwards faster than someone can charge you.
  5. Pistols suck at stopping people. Question: What does a person do after they are shot? Answer: Whatever they were doing before they got shot. Sacrificing mobility and your base for maybe 2 shots to the lower abdomen before you’re in a grounded gun fight is a bad trade. A motivated attacker will push through you and eat your lunch. Not to mention several attackers.
  6. The upward angle is meant to put rounds into the adversary’s thoracic cavity for a more reliable stop. The problem with this is that a miss at an upward angle means a bullet that can travel extreme distances. To demonstrate my point, watch Aaron Cowan of “Sage Dynamics” advocate stitching the target by breaking the wrist to achieve higher and higher shots. Three problems with this. One, when the other guy is moving, the floaty bent wrist index falls apart and it compromises wrist strength for retention. Two, where would those missed shots land when fired at an upward angle (edit: Aaron’s range is private land and has a large wooded area behind range)? Three, if your other hand is fending or tying the other guy up, you run the risk of shooting yourself in the arms and hands. Shooting yourself in a gunfight still counts.
  7. You’re probably not fast enough to make it work at arm’s length. I’m not. Not from concealment. This technique was designed for people who carry outside the waistband. You will eat so many punches/stabs at arm’s length that the trade isn’t worth it. You need to deal with the adversary’s forward drive and strikes FIRST. Then you get to shoot him.
  8. Since we understand the criminal assault paradigm, we realize that we likely will be engaged in some verbal judo with our adversary as he tries to close distance and find the opportunity to launch his ambush. This will create a cognitive load which WILL slow down our reaction time. So by the time you clear leather, he’s on you and you’re on the ground with your gun out. Bad trade.
  9. You’ll likely not initiate the shooting whether police or citizen. He/They will make the first move. You’ll likely be reactionary. This is the way of things when you’re the good guy. There are ways to spot pre-assault cues which will clue you in that something is about to happen, but good people have trouble being aggressive enough, fast enough.
  10. This won’t work in a confined space or against a wall. Your back has nowhere to go. The technique calls for ‘full retreat’ while shooting from the hip and leaning back. We live in a world of curbs, bumpers, bollards, and walls. That means tripping.

“What Do You Advocate Then, smartass?”

  1. I learned these principles from the Shiv-Works collective. Craig Douglas, Paul Sharp, Cecil Burch, Chris Fry, and Larry Lindenman. I have seen versions of the same postural cues and retention shooting from Active Response Training, Tactical Response, and a boatload of other schools and books. The good technique is so prevalent that I find it hard to believe the speed rock is still a thing, hence the post.
  2. If we make it our mission to try to stay upright, stay mobile, and most importantly, stay conscious, then we have a spring board to drive our technique.
  3. Adopt an athletic base. Hips low, nose-over-toes (weight on balls of feet), strong posture, aligned spine. Ready to deliver or receive forward drive.
  4. When you’re reacting to your adversary’s attack at this distance, it’s foolhardy to attempt to get your gun into play. You have to deal with his forward pressure and strikes/stabs FIRST.
  5. The less-than-ideal target zone of the hips and stomach serve to diminish our opponents ability to fight. As he soaks up rounds with no obvious recourse, his will to fight will fade, and you can improve your position and make more vital-area hits if required.
  6. The dropped elbow retention position is serviceable with good posture. Elbow retracted back as soon as you clear leather, forearm indexed along ribs, slight downward angle to shots. At least we know where they’ll land.

    Greg Ellifritz from Active Response Training demonstrating a retention position along with a fending off-side arm.
    Greg Ellifritz from Active Response Training demonstrating a tight retention position along with a fending off-side arm. Note downward angle of shots, forward posture, and no intersection of muzzle line with shooter’s body.
  7. I feel that an even more defensible and repeatable position exists. It’s simply the ‘count 2’ of the draw I prefer. Elbow retracted straight up and back, thumb flagged away from slide as a standoff, thumb indexed on the pectoral muscle, bunched tight trap muscle. This creates a repeatable downward angled shot path that won’t intersect in your other arm, which is probably fending or tied up with your adversary. It also works in the horizontal plane (read: on your back). Watch Craig Douglas work this position on the range. Video by Ballistic Radio.
  8. You might need to weather the initial storm of the attack. Learn a solid non-diagnostic default position to survive the first volley. Here’s a great article about options.

In Closing

These are the best methods I’ve seen and used in high pressure force-on-force training (which is as close as we can get to a gunfight without losing training partners). If you think I’m full of shit, I encourage you to get a bite guard, some MMA gloves, a blue gun, a buddy, and a grassy field and work it. If you’re near me, I’ll work it with you. Start slowly and ramp up the pressure until you have a competitive ‘gun-fight’ and see which method keeps you on your feet longer and absorbing fewer strikes. Test, refine, repeat.

Oh, and don’t believe everything you see on the internet.

Mark

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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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Review: Defensive Applications of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu DVD

Today I received a package from Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives. Cecil sent me both of his PDN produced DVDs. I’ll briefly talk about Cecil’s training pedigree, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) as a superior combative system on the ground, then about the material contained in the DVD.

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Cecil has been training in BJJ since 1994 under Megaton Dias. He is a black belt and has extensive competition experience and success. You can read his full bio on his website. I only mention it to let you know he is a subject matter expert when it comes to grappling. He also is one of the major innovators when it comes to the integration of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into a weapons based environment. BJJ is tremendous for self defense against a single unarmed opponent. More importantly, as Cecil and his colleagues teach and demonstrate, it is probably the best delivery system for denying your opponent access (and enabling your access) to weapons while grounded. It just takes a critical eye, some adaptations, and pressure testing techniques to see what works.

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The DVD has the usual excellent production value you’d expect from PDN, with the DVD broken down into chapters with summary notes at the end of each. If you get this DVD, have a buddy (or understanding spouse) with whom you can practice. You’ll NEVER own the material unless you get down on the ground and do the work. Most gun people are resistant to the idea and “carry this gun so I don’t have to wrestle”. The reality is rarely that tidy. You might end up rolling around in the mud, piss, and broken beer bottles in an alley over a knife. Having at least a modicum of ground skill is crucial for all gun owners (everyone really). Even better would be joining a local BJJ school and putting in the work. I digress… the DVD…

Topics Include:

  1. Hierarchy of Intent
  2. Conceptual Escape Formula
  3. Survival Posture Unarmed (and against a weapon)
  4. Hip Bridge
  5. Hip Escape
  6. Complete the Escape
  7. Guard Fundamentals
  8. Getting to the feet
  9. VS a standing attacker, when grounded

What makes Cecil a great teacher is his ability to distill two decades of knowledge into an easily digestible ‘essentials’ list that he can fit into a weekend seminar for NON-GRAPPLERS! This video is even more condensed at only about an hour. The Hierarchy of Intent and Escape Formula give a bird’s eye view of ‘the fight’ on the ground. It’s about as old school Jiu Jitsu as you can get, but it’s totally applicable to a weapons based environment.

Cecil has told me that he approaches his teaching to start from a worst case. The reason being that if you can dig yourself out of the deepest hole, everything else is easy. So the instruction starts from the assumption that you have been knocked to the ground, possibly by a sucker punch, and goes from there. The Survival Posture denies even a relatively skilled grappler immediate access to submissions against you, and therefor works well against an untrained person.

Once you’ve survived the initial assault, you need to be able to move while there’s someone on top of you to make enough room to put more of your body between yourself and them. Enter the Hip Bridge and Hip Escape. This gives you a vertical and horizontal escape route to reorient and gain a more favorable position. Once you’ve done this, you can finalize your escape from the bottom and escape or fight as needed.

Cecil then goes over Guard basics. Both closed guard and long range open guard. He then covers getting up.

That’s a lot of stuff to go over in an hour. However, I really think that even an unskilled grappler using this material, and practicing with a partner regularly, can get a functional understanding of these positions and will have a better chance.

I would recommend this DVD to any ‘gun guy/gal’ who recognizes the need for basic ground fighting survival skills.

Next Up: I’ll review his “Surviving the Knockout Game” DVD.

Mark

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Complete Your 2015 Tactical Audit

Well folks, 2015 is nearly behind us. I don’t really know where it went, but it’s December already. Since I have a sizable audience (15 subscribers can’t be wrong!) I’m going to post about the yearly skill-set audit that I have been doing since 2010. It’s a way that I have prioritized my training in the major self preservation skill-sets. It keeps me honest and on-track to guarantee I don’t get goal hijacked. It is crucial for resource constrained people to do these evaluations. Without prioritizing you could let a needed, but less enjoyable to practice, skill slip through the cracks. I really believe it is the shortcut to becoming tactically proficient. I encourage you to do your own list, in whatever level of detail you find useful.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Evaluate your risk profile and decide what skills you most probably need? Pick 6-8 skills and list them from most to least important.

  2. Rank those 6-8 skills based on your relative current proficiency level.

  3. Choose the 3 skills with the biggest difference in rank from the most probable list and your current competency list. Those are the skills you should concentrate on next year.

  4. Write out your plan to improve those important, but lagging, skills.

  5. Do The Work.

Risk Profile and the Priorities List:

Here’s a list of some of the tactical skill-sets you can use in your list. The skills you choose depend on your personal situation. A stay-at-home dad will have different needs than a Tier 1 door kicker, but there will actually be some parallels as well. In no particular order:

  • Fighting Mindset
  • Verbal Deescalation skills/Verbal Agility
  • Fitness
  • Combatives/Empty Hand/Impact Weapon/Edged Weapons
  • Driving Skills
  • Pistol Shooting
  • Rifle Shooting
  • Medical Training
  • A particular Tactic (low light, vehicle, Structure Clearing, etc)
  • Primitive Skills (Fire-starting, Land Nav, etc)
  • Add your own

Consider the big picture of LIFE in this step (or keep it confined strictly to self defense if you’d like). Consider your profession, how much you’re in a vehicle, your neighborhood, your fitness level, etc. Complete a rudimentary risk profile to visualize your biggest threats. Also be honest with yourself and reflect on your real priorities.

I’m a suburban engineer dad who spends a lot of time with his family. Here’s my priority list:

  1. Fighting Mindset (having the will to do violence to those who would do you violence is the basis of all self-defense)
  2. Fitness (no better way to ensure longevity than with a healthy body)
  3. Verbal Agility (Most problems can be solved with good verbal judo, not to mention good verbal skills get you further in everyday life)
  4. Medical Training (You’re more likely to run across someone who needs a tourniquet and a compression bandage than someone who needs to be shot)
  5. Driving (A basic understanding of Defensive and performance driving could easily save you and your family’s lives)
  6. Pistol Skills (You’ll only need to shoot a human on rare occasion, but when you do, you’ll want to be skilled at it)

What am I Good/Bad at?

Now we’ll make a second list, using the same items in your priorities list. This time, organize them relative to each other according to your proficiency. Say, “I think I’m better at X than I am at Y” and make the second list. My list and comments follow:

  1. Fighting Mindset (Being a cancer survivor has made me a master at seeking self preservation, and I won’t let anyone take what I’ve fought so hard for)
  2. Driving (I’m not a performance driver, but I’ve never had an accident and never had a ticket *knock on wood*, though it’s been a long time since driver’s ed.)
  3. Pistol Skills (Not being able to train my body had me putting a lot of work into shooting)
  4. Verbal Agility (I like talking, but haven’t had much opportunity recently. I feel like my conversation skills are dulled)
  5. Medical Training (It’s been several years, but I still will get the training TQs and Bandages out and practice what I know for skill maintenance)
  6. Fitness (recovering from a stem cell transplant put a damper on my fitness plans in 2014/2015)

2016 Priorities

Now we’ll figure out the top three skills we should pursue in 2016. Look for the biggest differences in rank in the priority list vs the current skill list. Mine are as follows:

  1. Fitness (separated by 4 slots)
  2. Verbal Agility ( 1 slot)
  3. Medical Training ( 1 slot)

2016 Training Plan

Now we decide how we want to attack our weaknesses.

For me, fitness is absolutely top on my list. I had the unexpected surprise of a recurrence of my disease in 2014, so my fitness has degraded to the point of pitiful. Since I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing guy, I’m going to sign up at my local MMA gym and start training next week. This will actually serve to increase my fitness level, build a technical skill, and give me an outlet for my creative energy. Martial arts are also meditative for me. Your mind can’t be anywhere else but in the present moment, or else you’ll get punched in the face or choked. I also feel it builds mental toughness.

Verbal agility. I’m going to make it a point to read a few books about communication, but nothing beats flight time. Engaging in conversation frequently is the only way to get good at it. I plan to join Toastmasters this year.

Medical training. I’ll schedule more frequent practice sessions with my medical gear, read 3 medical/trauma related texts, and if a training company comes to my town I’ll try to attend if funds allow.

I also like to make a list of my ‘wants’ when it comes to training and self improvement/exploration. It might be a class I’ve been wanting to take, a goal to read 10 fiction books (I only read non-fiction generally), deadlift 500 pounds, a travel destination to visit, start doing yoga one day a week, etc. Add a few things that are slightly uncomfortable, and a few things you really want to do.

You get the idea. You can get as detailed as you want.

Do The Work

Plan the work, work the plan. Go. Do it.

Conclusion

I have been doing this deliberate audit for 5 years now (proof). Every time I do it, it allows me to re-focus my priorities to assure I’m making the best decisions I can. It also helps me to properly allot my limited resources (time, money, energy). The most crucial thing is that you be honest about what you really need, and what you’re actually good at. This takes some honesty, and you might not always like the path you discover. It takes courage to admit you suck, and even more to do something about it.

If your list includes anything that you’ve never trained in before, fix that first. You need to have some basic training in all of your prioritized skills.

What about the skills that didn’t make the top 3 priorities list? It’s time to put those in maintenance mode. I got the idea of 8 week blocks of training prioritization from Larry Lindenman of Shivworks. Block off 8 week of time to concentrate on your current priority for 3 to 4 days a week and everything else gets only 1 or 2 days a week of practice. This could be cardio, strength, shooting, whatever. You’ll have to scale the time depending on how much time you have to dedicate to training. Just keep it relative. After that 8 week block, switch priority and put everything else in maintenance mode. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

This audit process doesn’t  really allow for things you enjoy doing. So you’ll have to do that independently. I love pistol competitions. Realistically, I don’t need to practice shooting beyond maintenance. But I’ll still do my daily dry-fire and shoot the local match monthly because I like it. You have to keep it fun.

Another tip is don’t let your training/practice impact your personal life. I have made that mistake. I don’t suggest the same for you. Take all of your loved ones into account when allotting time to training.

Let me know if you found this exercise useful. I guarantee that it will save you time and will shorten the path to make you a more dangerous human in the long run.

Be Safe.

Be Dangerous.

Do The Work.

Happy Holidays,

Mark