AAR: Citizen’s Defense Research: Armed Parent/Guardian

Happy 2018 Everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I've been concentrating on family and haven't felt the itch to write. I'll be back this year with more. For today, we have GuG's first guest post. The author's name is Jaycel Adkins and he is a small business owner in North Florida. Writer at READY AT HAND on Facebook. Find him on instagram as @stoic.ninja. He's an avid reader, Stoic, Jiu Jitsu practitioner, shooter, and deep thinker. I'm very fortunate to be able to post this review. I really like his take on the AAR as more than a cataloging of topics. I hope you like it too.

PROLOGUE

Even in this age, there still exist videos that stain one’s soul.

The video is in black and white. There is no sound. The angle looks down at the front of a restaurant. The camera bears witness to a 2 year old boy sweeping the sidewalk. A couple passes him. Then a darkly dressed man approaches.

The attack is sudden and violent. A soccer kick to the child’s face. The child falls. The darkly dressed man stomps on the child’s head 13 times. He picks up the child’s dropped broomstick.

Another man, on a scooter passes by on the sidewalk. And keeps going.

The darkly dressed man strikes the child with the broomstick 10 times.The darkly dressed man then picks up the dust pan, turning it’s edge toward the child. He raises it.

Another man, walks past on the sidewalk. And keeps going.

The darkly dressed man brings the edge of the pan down upon the child 8 times.

Another man followed by a group of people emerge from the restaurant and confront the darkly dressed man.

He casually turns and walks down the street, before the group gives chase.

The child remains on the ground…

 

BLOCK I: SEMINAR

“Appropriate actions are measured on the whole by our social relationships.” – Epictetus, Handbook 30

The above scene is from a series of videos shown during the first block of instruction in the course, “The Contextual Handgun: Armed Parent/Guardian” taught by John Johnson and Melody Lauer of Citizens Defense Research. This course is their answer to the question:

“What if my children are with me when I get into a shooting?”

The course begins with a four hour seminar via lecture. Powerpoint slides labeled:

CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING,

DEFINE THE PROBLEM,

REACTIONS v. RESPONSES,

TYPES OF ATTACKS ON CHILDREN,

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM,

GEAR,

MINDSET,

PRIORITIES v. TASKS,

PERCEPTION v. REALITY,

KNOW THE LAW, ETC.

are presented and explained in depth by both John and Melody.

And there are the videos.

The conclusion that one arrives at during the course of the Seminar is that the problems an average parent/guardian faces in a violent encounter are many, complicated, and unique enough that they must be trained for rather than merely reacted to. How do criminals, intent on committing a crime against you, view your children? Video examples shown during the seminar show a level of cruel indifference. How much does a child’s presence affect the parent/guardian’s attention, mobility, tactical options, gear, training? A lot.

What are the particular types of attacks that are focused on children? What techniques and strategies can you deploy preemptively and during an attack, in order to increase the odds of your loved ones and you surviving? What risks to them are you prepared to accept?

The context the seminar portion lays out, leads to the next two blocks of the course. First, a baseline of skill with a handgun. Second, followed by a day to provide strategies and techniques that students can employ to protect their loved ones caught in a violent encounter with you.

BLOCK II: FUNDAMENTAL CONCEALED PISTOL SKILLS

“And yet a bull doesn’t become a bull all at once, any more than a man acquires nobility of mind all at once; no, he must undergo hard winter training, and so make himself ready, rather than hurl himself without proper thought into what is inappropriate for him.” – Epictetus, Discourses I.2.32

The fundamental tool that the course focuses on to solve encounters that have gotten to the point of life and death in the presence of our loved ones, is the handgun. Block II is spent on how to successfully draw a handgun from concealment and put rounds accurately and swiftly on target.

Anyone who has taken a handgun course from a good instructor is familiar with what is covered in this block of the coursework. Draw, presentation, sight alignment and picture, trigger press, strong/weak hand, shooting at various distances, and safely holstering the handgun.

Building on the seminar portion of Block I, what is immediately apparent is the close focus on fast and accurate firing of rounds from a concealed holster. Particularly doing so one handed. The natural reason being that your non-firing hand will likely be occupied managing your loved one.

As a relatively new shooter, shooting one handed under the stress of a timer, at A-zone sized targets was a revelation. And not an encouraging one. Shots were missed. Instruction was provided by both John and Melody throughout the courses of fire.

Fitting with the purpose of the course, the Block II final course of fire is the FBI Qualification. Fortunately, as a result of both John and Melody’s tutelage, I was able to shoot a passing score.

BLOCK III: TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES FOR ARMED PARENTS

“With regard to everything that happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it.” – Epictetus, Handbook 10.

Day two, Block III, is spent on learning a series of tactics and techniques to engage in a gunfight around loved ones and be successful. John and Melody present a series of problems and then demonstrate and coach a series of solutions to overcome them. Problems that are covered include:

Problem 1: Over penetration of rounds. Problem 2: One handed draws from concealment with a young child in your arms. Problem 3: Controlling movement of loved ones while drawing to fire. Problem 4: Abduction dilemma, criminal has possession of your child in hand. Problem 5: Efficacy of Central Nervous System shot. Problem 6: How good of a shot are you, really? At what distances? How quickly? Problem 7: Shooting on the Move, counter-intuitively away from your loved one. Problem 8: Drawing on an already drawn gun.

I will speak briefly about one of the problems. If you seek more in depth knowledge, I recommend that you take the coursework.

Block III began with a ballistic gel test to demonstrate how far certain ammo can penetrate. The importance of this goes to the problem of a natural desire to shield our loved ones with our bodies when they are in danger from an attacker. What one realizes, to great dismay, is the likelihood that rounds that penetrate us, could likely go through us and strike those we love. Our bodies are a chimera for cover.

Another problem is how to control our loved one’s movements to prevent them from stepping in front of our muzzle during a lethal force encounter that can suddenly present itself. Melody Lauer demonstrates one leverage technique as a solution:

The course ends with the TAP/G Qual, which consents of shooting the FBI Qual while dealing with a loved one in hand. I was able to pass the Qual, barely.

The focus on accurate and timely fire is complicated by the shooter having to manage their love one. What you quickly are made aware of is the line seperating when you can to when you cannot make those hits reliably. In an actual life and death event, that line can bring untold tragedy if you are on the wrong side of it.

This was the most valuable lesson on the 2nd day for myself. Knowing, at this moment, what I am capable of and what I am not: in terms of shooting skill.

EPILOGUE

“The following assertion of the philosophers may perhaps seem paradoxical to some people, but let us examine nonetheless, as best as we can, whether it is true that ‘we ought to combine caution with confidence in all that we do.’” – Epictetus, Discourses II.1.1

10:30pm.

Manchester Arena, United Kingdom.

A concert by Ariana Grande has just finished.

10:33pm.

A suicide bomber detonates himself in the foyer.

In the maelstrom that followed, a homeless man by the name of Stephen Jones helped survivors.

When interviewed by ITV News about his actions after the bombing, he replied:

“It had to be done, you had to help, if I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, walking away and leaving kids like that.”


I am a bachelor. I have no children. I am an only child raised by a widowed single mother.

I find the phrase ‘sheepdog’ to be pretentious at best.

But I like to think I would not be a victim of a ‘bystander effect.’ Namely doing nothing when help is needed; waiting for others to act; sherking the impulse to do the right thing because of fear or even worse: social embarrassment.

What are the ‘appropriate actions’ for my ‘social relationships,’ often to strangers? What level of ‘hard winter training’ is needed to build the ‘capacities’ to successfully win a life and death encounter? How does one ‘combine caution with confidence in all that we do’ so that we can live with the decisions made in a violent instant, for all the years that come after?

Why did I take this course?

Ultimately, to have the skill to do what my personal ethics demand of me.

What did I learn from this course?

The bold line separating my skills from my ethics.

And ultimately, where to go from here.

2018 Training Schedule

  • Establishing a Dominance Paradigm with Tom Givens, William Aprill, and Craig Douglas
  • Edge Weapon Overview with Craig Douglas of SHIVWORKS
  • Pistol Shooting Solutions with Gabe White

Further Reading

Author with his scored target.



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Course Review: Multidisciplinary Optimization Course at SBG Athens, Georgia

IG post

“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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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