The Why’s Behind The What’s

“The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth’s inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive.”
— Kurt Hahn

I have been asked numerous times what motivates me to train the way I, (and we), do? Why try to cover so many bases? Develop such a broad spectrum of skills?

Because this question comes up frequently I’ve shared these thoughts with a few folks over the years.

I don’t train because I fear anything.

Or hate anyone.

I train because I want be useful in those moments when folks need help.

I train because I love my life and everyone in it, and I’m not willing to give that up easily.

I train because I want to make it really difficult for anything or anyone to remove me from the life I live.

I train because I want to be an asset, not a liability.

 

Those are some of the why’s that drive what I do. What drives you?

A Few of My Favorite Films

During the holidaze it’s not unusual to experience a bit of the blahs. Here are a few documentaries I like to watch for inspiration. Most are fight sport related. Check them out if you need a little boost.

Choke – (A Rickson Gracie Documentary) is mandatory viewing. I watch this at least twice a year if not more.

 

 

ROLL: Jiu-Jitsu in So Cal which features my coach Chris Haueter is easily my favorite. I watch this or parts of this film twice a month… at least twice a month.

 

 

Jiu-Jitsu VS The World which also features Chris Haueter. You can learn more about Chris  here.

 

 

Anything featuring Karelin will get you motivated. The Experiment was on another level.

 

 

The Highland Games and strongman competition is near and dear to my heart. I simply love every aspect of the games. Stoneland inspires me due to my Scottish heritage and some of my earliest memories are seeing the men in my family participate in feats of strength.

 

 

The Rogue Series contain some real gems, and I get a lot of inspiration and motivation from watching these.

 

 

Anything featuring Ramon The Diamond Dekkers makes me want to throw hands.

 

 

Steve Prefontaine set a standard that others can only strive to attain. Pre’s mental approach to the sport inspires my mental approach to everything I do.

 

I hope you found some inspiration if you needed it, if not just keep it in mind for the time when you do. Happy holidays, enjoy the time with your family and friends.

Embrace the Debrief

I’m in my 20th year as a Peace Officer. During that time I’ve been involved in quite few debriefs, and I’ve noticed something… most people don’t like to honestly, and ruthlessly seek the truth in performance.

 

Before we go further let’s take a look at something I found on Wikipedia regarding the debrief;

Ernesto Yturralde, experiential trainer and researcher, explains: “In the field of experiential learning methodology, the debriefing is a semi-structured process by which the facilitator, once a certain activity is accomplished, makes a series of progressive questions in this session, with an adequate sequence that let the participants reflect what happened, giving important insights with the aim of that project towards the future, linking the challenge with the actions and the future.”

Debriefing sessions can be made directly without the use of “props” or with them as support tools, achieving highly productive sessions. The skill levels of professional facilitators and their visions for each process, will be essential to capitalize on the experiences of experiential workshops, in moments of inspiration, teachable moments that become Debriefing sessions, into commitments for action.

“Emotional Decompression” is one style of psychological debriefing proposed by David Kinchin in his 2007 book by that name.

Experiential learning debriefing is the basis for debriefing in Medical Simulation, used widely within healthcare.[3]

 

See, here is the thing; in every profession where potentially life changing decisions are made there needs to be a systematic approach to the debrief. The debrief must be honest, and most of all ruthless in pursuit of anything that will improve future performance. Now, most folks will say they are down with this approach. They will swear that they want to hear feedback. How to do things better, to have mistakes highlighted so they can be better prepared in the future. After all, our mistakes help us develop training plans. Yet, I’ve been in debriefs that would lead one to believe everything was perfectly executed. “Nobody got hurt”, is heard frequently during those debriefs, as if that means everything was done right. I think it would do some folks well to remember the only reason “nobody got hurt” is because the opponents they faced sucked worse than they did. “You can’t judge my actions now”. Actually yes we can, and we should. You/me/we should embrace that judgement.

 

A debrief is essentially an opportunity for peer review. Our peers and mentors give us feedback. Why wouldn’t we want them to be as ruthlessly honest as possible? It is to our benefit. We must push back against our ego which will kick and scream telling us these people need to walk a mile in our shoes, or stop Monday morning quarter backing us. Crush that ego, don’t be a weakling. They have, and they are not.

 

We must embrace the debrief. After every roll ask your training partner what you need to work on. Every live fire practice, or match you shoot, ask your squad mates what you need to work on. And if you’re ever in a position where you sit in on an organized debrief,  and it is your turn to be in the hot seat? Embrace that moment, and the subsequent growth.

Shotgun Love

Doing some work recently on my home defense skill set. I was reminded of how versatile a shotgun can be as well as my life-long love of this beast. As a 10 year old kid I shot my first clay pigeon using a 410 single shot shotgun on my grandmothers farm in the heart of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It’s a great memory of time with my dad, uncle, and great-uncles. Since then I’ve always loved and owned shotguns. Even this many years later there are few things firearms related that are as fun as an afternoon busting clays with friends and family.

The shotgun has maintained a significant position in the the defensive shooting world for good reason. However, it is interesting to watch things cycle through the defensive firearms world.

This month shotguns are out! Wait, because it is a month later and now shotguns are in! Sometimes it is like the weather in South Florida; don’t like it? Wait ten minutes, it’ll change.

Regardless of what’s hot at the moment, an ounce of lead moving at 1,600 feet per second is always going to make the shotgun a viable home defense option. Particularly for folks on a budget. For less than $500 you can pick up a solid pump gun, and enough ammo to function test your new shottie as well as a box of whatever defensive load you choose to run.

Of secondary interest are tactical considerations like backstops, fire lanes and such. This is just one choke point, and line in the sand in my home. The back stop is a concrete basement wall under the wood floor. A little higher is the tile and concrete entry way floor. Behind me are windows and an exterior wall so when I take incoming rounds I don’t have to worry about my family taking rounds meant for me. The walls on each side create a funnel, once in the stairs my opponent’s have two options: 1) come up the stairs into my muzzle or 2) go back down the stairs and away from my loved ones. There are no other options.

Home defense strategy and tactics is a fascinating study, and something I enjoy pressure testing on a regular basis. If you have neglected the shotgun and/or your home defense practice take some time to visit both again.

The Struggle is the Glory.

“A grappler is the toughest man on the planet” – Conan Silveira, my first jiujitsu coach. 

I remember Conan saying those words during a practice. It echoed the words of my childhood wrestling coaches. It never really clicked until I was a little older, and could recognize the difference between grapplers, and those that had no grappling experience. It’s hard to define. I think grapplers, (whether they train in Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, JiuJitsu, or the thousands of forms of grappling that are unique to each culture), have at some point accepted that they do it for the love. There is never really going to be a lot of money in grappling. Wrestling programs have been, and are being, cancelled on a regular basis all over the USA. Kids that wrestle have always known there is no money to chase. No one is offering million dollar contracts like we see in the NBA, MLB, or NFL. Sometimes there isn’t even bragging rights or external glory. Grapplers are simply tougher. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s a result of the daily grind. You don’t start out thinking you’re going to be tough. You usually start out wondering if you can do any of this. After a few years you start wondering what you can’t do.

 

For grapplers the struggle is the glory. You know you endure more on a daily basis than most folks will endure in a year, if not a lifetime. That’s what makes you different. You are a better version of you because of the struggle. You are not like other people because you know how this works. You’ve already figured out years ago on the mat. That life is improved by almost imperceptible movement, and unrecognized effort. The mental toughness you now have is because you learned long ago to suck it up and drive on. The struggle, and the subsequent benefits of that struggle is the glory. You get to live a better life than you would have otherwise.

 

It’s not just the grapplers that know they’re a breed apart. Thanks to a Gallup study commissioned by the Navy to the tune of $500,000 the Military knows what we already knew. Grapplers are tougher. Men trying out for the elite Navy SEALs doubled their odds of passing the selection process if they had participated in one of these 7 sports; water polo, triathlon, lacrosse, boxing, rugby, swimming and/or wrestling. Not football, basketball, or baseball. Nope. However, there are two core combat sports in there; boxing and wrestling. Next post we’ll get into grapplers that can bang. That’s a whole other beast right there, and one all multidisciplinary athletes should be working towards. For now I’ll close this out with this; Conan was right, as were all of my wrestling coaches. Grapplers are the toughest people on the planet. The skills we build relentlessly pursuing higher performance on the mat, in the end makes us better people off the mat setting us up for success in every other area of our life.

 

 

 

A Few Resources

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as shameless self promotion. My intent is to share a few resources I’m aware of that will allow folks to see some of the material I teach. I get quite a few questions online and in person regarding things that are covered in these clips. I usually end up sharing these clips with folks to help answer the questions. I thought I would compile a few of them in this post to make things a little easier to reference.

 

This playlist contains clips from the Mitigating Recoil block I taught at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

 

A few clips on my approach to blade work.

 

How I approach the problem of dealing with or defending against an edged weapon.

 

A few clips from my block on weapon retention and disarms at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

 

A brief overview on how I approach some of the challenges found in close quarter shooting.

That’s it for now. Hopefully you found this to be helpful. I’ll continue to post information on my YouTube channel here. Let’s do work and evolve this multidisciplinary endeavor to the next level! Performance is out there, chase it!

Living Without A Thermostat

One of the challenges of this lifestyle is taking time off, or scheduling deload weeks so we avoid injuries. Burnout isn’t really an issue since we’re doing what we love. Injuries however, injuries are a constant threat.

 

I’m going to shoot you straight, I don’t really know how to take it easy or take time off. I’ve never been able to to do it properly. Sometimes though, the injury is so great that we don’t have a choice. We have to stay off the mat, out of the ring, weight-room, or away from the range. Most of us are guilty of being all in or all out. We can’t deal with halfway anything. Injured to the degree that we can’t train usually means we’re all out. We don’t go to the gym because it’s too frustrating to see everyone else rolling, working their standup, pushing their numbers up in the weight-room, or improving their times on conditioning work. We’re happy they are progressing, yet not so happy we’re stagnating while we wait for this injury to heal.

 

This a really dangerous time for us. We run the risk of getting out of the habit of doing all the things we do. Six to eight weeks away from the gym is enough time for other habits to sneak in, and take over. If we’re not careful we’ll soon be spending our nights on the couch, watching TV, drinking and eating garbage, and undermining all of our hard work. We can make excuses, we can’t train because we’re hurt. It’s frustrating to sit on the sidelines, etc., etc…

 

Or we can be that team member that still comes to class to watch, take notes, mentally keeping ourselves active in the game. When we help where we can around the gym it goes a long way towards building team, as well as maintaining our habit of driving to the gym several days or nights a week. We’re helping our team, and our team is helping us by keeping us mentally engaged.  Yes, it’s still frustrating because it’s not the same as being out there doing what we love. However, climbing back on that horse is much easier when we haven’t forgotten how to get to the barn.